Positive psychology tells us that in order for us to flourish, we need to think and feel positive at least three times as often as we feel negative, on a regular basis.
That's easier said than done. Staying positive can be a challenge. Particularly at the moment when there’s a real heaviness among us. Yes, we’re easing out of lockdown and some things feel familiar again. But there’s definitely a sense of ‘meh’, fatigue, and overwhelm lingering.
The anticipation of ‘getting back to normal’ has added an extra pressure. We'd been waiting for 'normal service to resume' and not that it has, it's not quite what we thought.
You're not bouncing back into the world full of energy as you expected and this leaves you feeling a bit, well, odd. This added pressure, tied with expectation and comparison certainly does not help in getting into a more optimistic mindset.
Reflecting on your positive vs negative thoughts and feelings is a useful way to bring awareness and intentionally ramp up the volume on your positivity.
If you want to stir up a more positive mindset, here are some things you can do, feel and say to introduce positive practices into your day. Try one or two to focus on and see if you notice a difference.
Things you can do
Reminiscing - Think of a happy time when you felt free, energised and full of life. Remind yourself of what felt good. What were you doing? Who were you with? What was happening in that moment? What was positive about that experience? Can you bring any elements of that memory into the here and now?
Kindness - Random acts of kindness help boost your energy and feel good factor - these don’t need to be huge expensive things - small, thoughtful ideas such as telling someone you’re thinking of them has the double bonus of making their day, plus making you feel good too.
Things you can feel
Three good things - To increase your inner happiness, write down three good things that went well each day for at least a week and reflect on the role you played in them.
Visioning - Envisage the best version of your future self - what would you be doing? Where would you be? Who are you with? What would be important to you? Capture this vision in great detail - this helps enhance your optimism and provides focus for working towards that version of yourself.
Gratitude - It’s an oldie but a goodie and costs nothing. What are you grateful for right now? Who are you grateful for? What has happened today that you are thankful for? Noting these things shines light on the positive that has happened each day.
Things you can say - the most important bit
Think before you speak! - Our language plays a significant role in how positive (or not) we feel. Much of our language goes unnoticed and we default to words, phrases and terminology that has become our norm without really registering if it’s true. Look out for the words you’re using sub-consciously and try putting a more positive spin on them. A few examples:
‘I’m so busy, I have no time’ becomes ‘I’m doing lots of things I love. Other things just aren’t a priority for me right now.’
‘I’ve had such a s%£$ day’ becomes ‘Parts of my day have gone well, some not so well. Tomorrow is a new day.’
‘I can’t go on’ becomes ‘I recognise I need some help.’
‘I’m so stressed’ becomes ‘I would like to prioritise more time for my well-being.’
Practice 'Active-Constructive’ Responding to others - Again, how we phrase things matters. Begin to notice how you respond to those closest to you - are you using encouraging, positive language or do you default to negativity? For example, when your partner says they’ve fixed the leaking tap, how do you respond? ‘It’s about time’, or ‘fantastic, well done’.
Become aware first, and you can then start to introduce new positive ways of communicating.
Notice your self talk - if you’re talking negatively to yourself on repeat, that is going to have an impact. Can you begin to reframe the inner critic to something more empowering and supportive? It will make all the difference.
Beginning to be and feel more positive is a practice. If we’re more likely to flourish when we think positively, first we need to become aware of thoughts and feelings, and the impact they are having. This is the first step to starting new behaviours. If one of these practices resonates with you, try that first for a week and notice if you see a difference in how you feel.
Gemma Brown is an associate certified coach with the International Coach Federation, working with people to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.