Someone once said, “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort!”
I mean, let’s be honest. Sometimes positive people are just plain annoying. Don’t you sometimes get irritated when people are, well, just a little too happy?
While we’re on the subject, I have a confession. I’m pretty sure I am one of those annoyingly happy people. I mean, things just don’t shake me as much as they should. I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, that must be awesome!” Well, it is. That’s why I want to share what I’ve discovered about this mindset that some people may feel is unattainable. It really isn’t. You can get there, too! Let me explain how.
For so long I’ve taken my positivity for granted. I haven’t given it much thought. Recently, I have come to realize that knowing the “why” is actually very important, probably even crucial. It’s important to figure out for myself, and it’s also important to share with others. In my search for answers, I stumbled across a few intriguing facts.
Most people are aware of the research that tells us how people with a positive attitude live longer, do better in stressful situations, and have greater satisfaction in life altogether. But did you know that people with a positive attitude also have a special ability? We’ve all heard of the “downward spiral,” that slippery slope many fall prey to when crisis comes and their ability to deal with whatever life throws their way goes out the window. It seems people who maintain a positive attitude have learned a special power to create an “upward spiral.”
Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, calls the upward spiral part of her “broaden and build” theory:
“The broaden-and-build theory describes the form and function of a subset of positive emotions, including joy, interest, contentment and love. A key proposition is that these positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoire: joy sparks the urge to play, interest sparks the urge to explore, contentment sparks the urge to savour and integrate, and love sparks a recurring cycle of each of these urges within safe, close relationships.”
Fredrickson suggests that positive emotions produce optimal functioning in an individual and have the uncanny ability to “create improved psychological and physical well-being over time.”
It’s a compounding effect. Positive people are happy, so they develop new skills. Those skills lead to new success, which results in more happiness; and the process repeats itself. This drastically contrasts with the result of negative thinking, which narrows the mind into one perspective, drives people to hopelessness, inactivity and despair, often resulting in poor choices, loss of job, health, relationships, and often, ultimately premature death. After an afternoon of researching something scientists have been studying for hundreds of years, I was sold. Positive thinking is the way to go! If thinking positively leads to more positivity, and positivity leads to success, I definitely want in on it, don’t you? To put it simply, the number one thing to do when you’re feeling, well, not-so-positive, is this. It’s a simple phrase that has helped pull me out of the temptation to feed that negative train of thought when it starts its path in my mind: When you’re heading toward a downward spiral, remember, the upward spiral is possible. When you’re feeling down, look up!
If you’re anything like me, knowing the why is half the battle. However, it always helps to figure out how.
Here are five tips to help you find your positive attitude. I call it improving your “Attitude Aptitude.”
- Input equals output. The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice. When you talk to yourself, what are you saying? What are you reading, watching, listening to? Is it primarily positive or negative? If you aren’t balanced or slightly on the positive side, weed out the things that aren’t helpful to you. In the end, they aren’t worth the sacrifice.
- Apathy creates atrophy. Apathy is the enemy of fulfillment. If you are apathetic about something, narrow down the “why” behind it. Are you feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated or unmotivated? What are the negative thoughts that are feeding those feelings? What would help? What are the opposite thoughts and feelings that could actually create upward traction and success? Think on those things! Otherwise, your apathy will get the best of you.
- Positive speech is powerful. Words have power. The tongue holds the power of life and death. Don’t let it bring death to your mind. Let your inner voice bring you life.
- Believe the best. Instead of believing, “Everyone hates me, I stink, I can’t do anything right, I’ll never change,” start believing the exact opposite. Tell yourself, “Everyone loves me, I’m the best! I got this!” It sounds corny, but it really does help. Do it until it becomes second nature. Then, positivity will start flowing out of you, and your countenance will eventually change.
- Strength is born from struggle. Everyone has struggles. Believe me, I’ve been there. Just because you encounter a positive person doesn’t mean that person hasn’t had life happen. Know this. If you are looking from the outside at someone else’s life, feeling discouraged because they seem to have it all together—it’s not true. No one has it all together. Everyone has struggles. But you can learn to keep sending your mind on an upward spiral, no matter what happens around you or to you.
Remember, the difference between someone who is negative and someone who is positive is not necessarily what they’ve been through, it’s how they’ve learned to respond—and then have chosen to respond. Consider these questions: What do you want your end result to be? How do you want to live? How do you want to be perceived? As weak, fragile, emotional and negative? Or as strong, capable, adaptable and positive?
Take your downward spiral and turn it up. It’s like the old saying goes, “Turn that frown upside down.” Are you annoyed with me yet? Okay, that last one was a bit much, maybe. I’m keeping a positive attitude anyway—and I promise, you can, too. It’s possible and it’s worth it!