People move toward positivity, plain and simple. Everyone likes a positive person, someone who is upbeat and cheerful, who rolls with the punches, and has a can-do attitude. So, what if you aren’t that type of person? Are you doomed to walk the streets alone, to spend your life as a solitary, cut off from the enjoyment of meaningful relationships?
I used to think that positive people were obnoxious. Think Legally Blonde: I was the stuck up, grey law school girl looking down my nose at the pink, bubbly chick getting it done. So when I started reading all of the evidence indicating positive people have a longer health span, are healthier in general, and are more productive I had to overcome my own dour disposition and admit that not all positive people are fake, silly, or stupid. Maybe, if this positivity thing has so many perks, I might even like to (gulp) become one of the happy people.
Is positivity something a person just has a talent for or can it be learned? I can tell you from experience that positivity can be learned. Even the most cynical person can learn to be positive with the right amount of effort. Here’s how you start:
Cultivating Positivity for Pessimists
Look at the bright side. There are two sides to everything. Nothing is ever all bad (or all good). In order to be more positive in daily life, make an effort to find the good in everything. Even things that don’t seem to have anything good about them can be good lessons if you are open to them. Many successful people reference mistakes, tragedies, and failures as their most fortunate events. If you don’t see the bright side at first, keep at it. After a bit of careful thinking, a glimmer of the good will show through.
Be patient with yourself. Negativity is the human brain’s default position. This tendency to see everything wrong with the situation before seeing the bright side probably served us well in the past to protect us from threats. This means that positivity is going to take some effort. It won’t happen overnight. Keep at it and be kind to yourself. Getting upset with yourself for not making good progress won’t help your cause. Don’t worry, you will see small returns on your effort right away and these will build over time.
Don’t worry if you feel fake at first. If positivity is foreign to you, you might feel ridiculous when you start making cheerful changes. That’s okay. When was the last time you tried something new and were good at it right away? There is a bit of a learning curve in positive thinking, just like everything else. Start small, maybe by pausing during the day to appreciate the sunshine or changing your vocabulary.
Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. You’re not trying to be a people pleaser here. The goal is to create an authentic sense of well being inside yourself. This means taking time out for self-care and elevating your state of mind. Try saying “Thank you” in place of “Sorry”. It’s my new favorite feel-good life hack. For example, instead of “Sorry I’m late,” say, “Thank you for waiting.”
It isn’t all about sunshine and rainbows. If you continue to feel fake, maybe you need to change your approach. Think positive like, “Oh, this is a happy mistake, look at the opportunity it created,” not necessarily, “Wow, everything is SO great! I love everyone!” Remember, there are always two sides. Recognise the bad with the good.
Eat right for a better mood. It is hard to feel positive if you are in a low mood. If you are eating junk, your mood will be junk. Over 60% of your brain is fat. Choose quality, healthy fats to build a better brain and boost your mood. Also, 90% of the feel-good hormone, serotonin is produced in your gut, so it is important to pay attention to food sensitivities and foods that damage the gut (processed grains, sugar, unhealthy fats). For more on what a healthy diet looks like, see my physical health and nutrition blog at https://nourishmewellness.com/blog.
Get moving. Exercise raises endorphins, which improve your mood. Moving also helps to clear your mind, especially if you find opportunities to exercise outside. Find something you like to do and stick with it. On the days you don’t feel like it, get up and get going anyway. Commit to at least 10 minutes. Likely, once you get started you will feel better and want to keep going.
Hang with positive people. Find a group of people who are positive, upbeat, and fun to be around. Be sure you resonate with them. Hanging with inauthentically happy people can be annoying, increase your feelings of being fake, and have a negative effect on your attitude. If you’re having trouble finding such people in real life, try finding them online. There are several groups focusing on positive support on Facebook. Try my women’s wellness group Nourish Me Tribe to see if it is a good fit for you!
How do you cultivate positivity in your life? What are your obstacles against positivity? Does positivity feel inauthentic to you? Drop your questions and comments below!
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