- Education and Science»
- Psychology & Psychiatry
Seven Tips for Staying Positive
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. Thoreau
by Vicki Parker
A dear friend gave me a card over the holidays. It quoted Ghandi:
"Live like there is no tomorrow. Learn like you’ll live forever."
His implication was that I had mastered this. But my life hasn’t always been filled with such positivity and conceived mastery. In fact, there have been many times I wasn’t sure I could muddle through life at all, much less, master it. There have been storms against which a down coat could not warm me.
But something changed. Not once, but twice. And then three times. There may be a fourth time. I’ve been left alone in the quicksand more than once and had to fight my way out. Here’s my secret to getting back on level ground.
- Stay positive. Positivity is a mind set. You control it. You turn the dial on the volume. You set the pace. You determine how you will share it. The main point here is this: it starts with YOU. The movie "Lorenzo’s Oil" is one of the saddest true story movies I’ve ever seen, but of that movie I derived a quote to live by: "Life is a struggle. Victory and defeat are in the hands of God, so let’s celebrate the struggle." Life is a journey and not a destination, so you must find your joy in living day-to-day. You may not reach your goal. You might fail or an obstacle might dash your plans. But don’t let it dash your hopes. The joy of life is in the decision to make the journey to begin with. If you don’t succeed, try again. Falling down doesn't make you a failure; staying down does. Learning to accept defeat and move forward fosters a chin-up, can-do attitude.
- Once you have adopted a positive mind set (which merely requires the commitment to do so), realize that negativity will always hurl itself forthright your direction. You cannot change that. All you can change is your response to it. The military creed "improvise, adapt and overcome" are words to live by. Just because something didn’t go as you planned, it doesn’t render it un-meaningful. Maybe the event was not enjoyable, but events have purpose when we search them. It is up to you to find the meaning in your life and it’s usually hidden under a rock. That means you may have to cover a lot of territory turning up stones - you’d better enjoy the exercise.
- If you still find it hard to hear yourself above the noise of emotional pain or loss, analyze what’s weighing you down? Do you hate your job? Are your friends or family causing strife? Is a partner mistreating you? All of the above? While you cannot run from negativity, you can make conscious decisions to minimize it. Life is short. Some people are so charged with negative energy that they can suck you into their black hole and there you can linger wondering how you crossed the barrier from sanity to insanity to begin with. Negativity IS insanity because tere’s just no reason for it to begin with. I have suffered through relationships that weighted me down and not even realized that was the cause because I was trying so hard to make things work. Some things just aren’t meant to work. There is wisdom in knowing the difference. You can’t move in a positive direction unless you recognize something may have you in a negative holding pattern.
- Don't allow yourself to believe that positive thinking will just not work for you. Consider this: people cannot survive in a vacuum. We need other people. Our path’s cross for a reason. Realize that you weren’t just thrown into a boat with seven others to white water raft a raging river. You ARE in the same boat with the REST of the world and it is up to YOU to develop relationships with those people. Living in isolation, whether forced by someone else, or unintentionally self-inflicted, will lead to a negatively charged environment. All the people you encounter in your life may not become bosom buddies, but each of us have something to bring to the table. If you make it a point to reach out, your efforts may not even be reciprocated half the time. But they will EVENTUALLY. Here’s the hitch! You must GIVE of yourself in order to RECEIVE. Once you’ve been burned, what do you do? You start pulling back and become reluctant to let go again. BAD MISTAKE. You’re not giving for yourself. You’re giving for someone else. And if you stop giving, the irony is that you were never really giving to begin with. True giving expects no returns. But true giving gets the biggest return on your investment in life.
- Listen to your heart and soul. They work in tandem with the mind. As my son was growing up I used to tell him, "We evolve to the extent of our own imaginations." History has proven it. The Egyptians imagined the pyramids and then they built them. Americans and Russians imagined landing on the moon. And then did it. Sadly, someone imagined building an atomic bomb, and did it. Think positive and you will live positive. There’s an old saying "when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." You can throw that saying out with the bath water. Instead, when you get to the end of your rope, turn life on it’s head. Feeling depressed or overwhelmed IS being depressed or overwhelmed. Instead, convince yourself you can handle the obstacle with grace and clarity. In thinking you can do it, you do it. In wanting to be it, you become it.
- A truly positive person surrounds themselves with positive things and positive people. Turn off the negative noises in your head and fill it with music instead. Music is everywhere. And there is something tailored for everyone. I, personally, can’t handle country music. But I can handle an amazing amount of music from several generations before me and my contemporaries. There are an incredible number of singer/songwriters who dwell on positive things. Make it your goal to find them and sing along. Life is a song (love is the dance.) Start singing and dancing. You will not be able to avoid the wellspring of positivity that flows from it.
- Finding humor in the face of adversity can be your best friend. Make it a part of your game plan. It isn't always appropriate, but when tastefully and gainfully employed, humor can really cut back on an aching heart's overtime. Think ahead to that point where the situation you are in will look humor in the eye and back down. Then time travel forward. That doesn't mean you must ignore the appropriate pain of the moment or circumstance. It simple means that you choose not to dwell there. Pain is something you pass through. A dwelling place is somewhere you live. Your dwelling place should be your sanctuary and a place of peace. Pass through pain but don't let it stop you in your tracks. Surround yourself with thoughts or people or memories - whatever it takes - to put pain in it's place.
When you can't have what you want, it's time to start wanting what you have. Kathleen Sutton