How to Stay Positive Even in Tough Times
Being Positive in Tough Times
Whether it be personal matters, such a divorce, or something more universal, such as a tough economy, in difficult times being positive can seem hard for some at first. But the effort it takes to stay positive can really pay off as you may find yourself more at peace and less stressed, happier, coping better, and possibly even have better health and achieve more than those who are not as positive. Here are some tips for how to stay positive no matter what is going on in your life.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Everyday write down at least five things you are grateful for and why you are grateful for them in a Gratitude Journal.
Writing in a gratitude journal helps keep you focused on the good things, which helps reduce stress and increase a sense of well being. It also helps you become aware of opportunities that you may have not noticed if you were more focused on the negative things instead.
Just as it is easier to walk in the direction where you are looking, it is easier to go where you are "looking mentally" as well. So if you are looking at the positive in your life it is easier to head towards more positive things. And if you are focused more often at the negative thoughts it's easier to head towards more negativity. Negative thoughts happen, and at times they need to be examined to help us get unstuck from them...but you don't need to dwell on them. A gratitude journal can even be used to help turn those negative thoughts around.
The journal can be anything from a simple, spiral bound notebook to a journal specifically made to be a Gratitude Journal or any journal that the look and feel of it seems special to you.
Find the Good in the Bad
Another way to stay positive in tough times is to take a cue from Anthony Robbins and ask yourself, "What's good about this?" Make an effort to recognize the good even in what seems bad and you will discover a whole new point of view and possibilities as well. For example, if you lost your job you can see it as an opportunity to apply for that other job you wanted even more or to start your own business.
Debbi Ford, author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, calls this sort of thing, "finding the gold in the dark." It's about extracting valuable lessons, wisdom and knowledge from challenging or even painful experiences and using it as a source for healing.
Fill Your Surroundings with Good Things
Surround yourself with what you love, what makes you happy and feel positive. Little things like favorite photographs of loved ones, a pretty picture on the wall, fresh flowers, etc. can give you a boost when your glance falls upon them. By the same token, let go of the things surrounding you that bring you down. If it's broken, ugly, brings up bad memories...make piece with it and let it go and give it new life by taking it to a charitable thrift shop where someone with a fresh view of it can make it something wonderful.
Create an Uplifting Life Soundtrack
Listen to songs that make you feel good. Create your own "Positive Life Soundtrack" ... a personal playlist of songs that lift you up and listen to them often. Upbeat music effects your brainwaves and actually syncs to the music, and releases endorphins. Positive lyrics cultivate and re-inforce that positve mood and attitude you are trying to create.
And here are two links to some lists of positive songs that others have put together.
Read Uplifting Books
Read books that inspire you and lift you up. Consider getting audio books as well so you can listen to them anywhere, such as when you travel in your car.
I used to work in a bookstore and I'd moan every time a new Chicken Soup for the Soul title came in. There are around a hundred (if not more) of Chicken Soup for Soul variations. Chicken Soup for teenagers, couples, gardeners...and even for chiropractors. But these books really do make you feel good when you read them. And each story is bite sized so you can get it in bite sized doses here and there throughout your day or week.
Another option is to read biographies. Most well known people (celebrities, politicians, successful business owners, etc.) have gone through tough times in their lives. Reading how they have overcome great odds, sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds, finding out that they weren't always just "lucky" to have what they have, gives us courage and conviction that we can overcome our own troubles too.
Some other types of books to consider are poetry, quote books, self-help books and even enjoyable children's picture books.
Be with Positive People
Surround yourself with other positive people and spend time with them. Conversations with positive people can refresh, restore and renew your emotional reserves. Take the time to thank these people for their positive outlook on life and let them know how it has helped you. Positive thinking seems to be contagious...the more you are around it the more you get it.
Let Go of Negative Thinking
It isn't always about "thinking positive." Sometimes overcoming or letting go of the negative is much more important, and can bring you to a "neutral" place that then enables you to move on to something happier. Letting go of negative thinking isn't always a simple matter though. A lot of times because we don't know effective ways to let go of negative thinking we just ignore it, or push down the negative feelings that accompany the thoughts...we try to "pretend" them away. And usually, especially in the long run, that just makes things worse.
One of the more effective ways of dealing with negative thoughts is to evaluate them honestly. Such as asking how true the thought is. Is the thought exaggerating in any way? (Hint, if words like "never" or "always" are part of the thought...it's exaggerating.)
My favorite method for letting go of thoughts is something known as The Work and you can find all the details on how to do it for free at www.thework.com. The creator of this method, Byron Katie, has written some books too. I've found other method's such as The Sedona Method and exercises from the book Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David D. Burns helpful as well.
Make Your Own Discoveries
Make your own list of things that make you feel positive and strengthen your positive thinking. Think about things that have both short and long term effects (both are useful, even necessary maybe, but long term is even better in my opinion). Have fun and enjoy.