Sometimes positivity gets a bad rap. It’s been argued that positivity is fluffy, not based in reality, and doesn’t make a difference. But, positivity isn’t about being naive or pretending the bad stuff isn’t there – let’s face it. That’s just an exercise of denial.
Positivity is the act of choosing an optimistic perspective and positive emotions such as gratitude, empathy, joy, and love. Positivity takes work. It takes intentionality, awareness of our own thoughts and habitual practice to choose positive thoughts.
In fact, I believe it’s easier to dwell in negativity. It takes little effort and feels indulgent. Negativity can even create a false sense of connection with other negative people through, “Oh, what’s the world come to,” and “Isn’t she so awful,” type gossip and victimhood.
It’s important to point out that indulging in negativity is not the same as experiencing a negative emotion. Being positive also doesn’t mean you don’t experience negative feelings.
Negative emotions are a part of life. It’s normal to feel disappointed, sad, angry, and so on when bad things happen. It’s important that we process these emotions – that we experience them, and let them move through us.
But, indulging is negativity is a whole different beast. Negativity is about choosing thoughts that color your perspective of the world. It’s the difference between thoughts such as, “I’m sad I lost the client,” (a negative emotion) versus, “I’m terrible at this. I’ll never amount to anything,” (negativity).
In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shares his research showing how having a positive mindset gives you a competitive advantage. In short, we become more successful when we’re more positive and happier.
So how do we become more positive? Here are three simple, but not necessarily easy, ways to begin your positivity practice.
- Meditation. Meditation helps you focus your mind and most importantly, builds awareness around your thoughts. Awareness is the first step to any change you’d like to make. Regular meditation can also foster feelings of calm, contentment, and reduce stress.
- Forgiveness. Forgiveness is not condoning bad behavior or denying the hurt. It’s the act of releasing feelings of resentment and anger in your heart so you can be free. A regular practice of forgiveness can help you release negative emotions towards yourself and others.
- Choose your circle. As Jim Rohn is famously quoted, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Choosing to have a strong and healthy social circle with other positive people can greatly support you in your positivity practice.
The benefits of positivity are vast – improved health, increased motivation and energy, lower stress, lower rates of depression, longevity, and higher performance and so much more.
Positivity is a worthy goal – are you up for the challenge?