2020 has been a whirlwind of new challenges and hardship. In a year that has been filled with sad, dark, and sometimes depressing days, it’s difficult to imagine staying positive amid such chaos. But it is possible and is arguably necessary, especially this year. One of the most important coping strategies for living a peaceful life is positivity, no matter what happens. Negativity is not only unhelpful, but it also serves to drag you down and prevent you from living as your best self.
- Focus on the positive. Thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are all closely linked and thus influence each other. In other words, your emotions can change based on what you choose to focus on. One effective way to break out of a negative thought cycle is by choosing to focus on something positive. For example, is the glass half-empty or half-full? Well, it depends on how you choose to view it.
- Practice gratitude. When we are feeling down or hopeless, it is easy to focus on all the things that are not going well. Gratitude is a purposeful practice of thinking about what you have in your life right now. Practicing gratitude teaches us that despite our missteps or mistakes, there are still people in our lives who love and care for us and things in our lives that we can look forward to. Journaling, creating a gratitude box or jar, and meditation can go a very long way toward tapping into the power of positivity.
- Be kind to yourself. Sometimes the things we say to ourselves are things we would NEVER dream of saying to other people we care about. Words are so powerful and can influence the way we view and feel about ourselves. It is important to mind your words and your language because, contrary to popular belief, words can hurt immensely.
- Shape your environment. Our environment has a very big impact on our mental health. While there are many things in our immediate environment that we are not able to control, there are some things that we can. One of the best first steps you can take is one small act in the morning. Admiral William H. McRaven’s author of Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World based on a 2014 graduation speech he gave at the University of Texas that went viral discusses the importance of your environment. He said, “if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. If by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that’s made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
- Take care of your physical and mental health. Staying hydrated, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercise helps you manage the ups and downs of life. It is much harder to stay positive if you’re sick, tired, stressed, or in pain.
- Dream big. Goals and dreams are successful in their infancy. What could be a better way to remain positive than keeping your eye on the prize at all times. Goals and dreams give you purpose and help invoke drive, motivation, and many other emotions that inspire you to get to work.
- Don’t take it personally. There are some people in our lives that can really mess with our positive vibes. Remember that when negative people try to bring you down. It’s not about you; it’s about THEM. Take it with a grain of salt and keep moving about your day. You can not control others; you can only control how you react to them. Make the choice not to buy into the negativity.
Always remember that it’s about progress, not perfection. The above strategies are just suggestions to get you started. You have everything you need to live a more happy and peaceful life. It is not possible or expected that we stay positive 24/7 365; the goal is to try.