Thursday, June 21, 2012

Aggressive Positivity

I don't know about you, but I sometimes struggle with negativity. I get a bad case of "nothing will ever go right again's" and it can ruin a day, suck the joy out of life, and leave me with no motivation to do anything at all. I'm working to make optimism my modus operandi. To that end, I've developed a philosophy of Aggressive Positivity--fighting negativity anytime it rears its ugly head. 

Below are some points to use in becoming aggressively positive. Before we get to that, let me say this. Optimism, or positivity, does not mean being a Pollyanna and refusing to acknowledge the things in your life that are wrong or negative. When you suffer a loss, or have anger, or sadness, or frustration, feeling those emotions is critical to processing them. The positive, or proactive response is to feel the uncomfortable (but not truly negative) emotion, and then focus your mind on the positive side of the situation. With practice, you can find the positive in anything, even if the actual experience is not good at all.
  1. Be positive. And be positive. And be positive. There is nothing that a positive attitude cannot improve--either in the situation or how you deal with the situation. In all things, look for the good. When you feel down, write what's bothering you, and then what can be good about it. If a loved one has died, make a list of anything positive--things you learned, experiences you loved, problems you are relieved of, or suffering that the person is freed from. If you are sick, list the people you've met from the illness that have been uplifting, of the new perspective you've gained, of the closeness you've built with family members that often comes with illness. You can choose positivity even in the most negative of circumstances.
  2. Fight the negative. You don't have to ignore negative things. You don't have to put on a smiley face when you want (or need) to cry. Processing emotions is a positive action. If you have a loss, cry for the loss. Go over the things you'll miss. But once you start to dwell on what's missing in your life, it is time for balance. Look for the positive. Especially if you have dealt with depression in the past, fight negativity as if you were at war. Negative thoughts damage your immune system, cause you to limit yourself, and leave you thinking small. Discouragement from negative thinking saps your energy, so it takes more work to do less. Any time you have a negative thought, counter it with a positive one, even for major life events. "I'm so lonely since I divorced" can become "I was willing to make a difficult decision. I will go to my friends and make new ones to get me through the transition. In the meantime I will enjoy the peace now that I'm not always arguing with my ex." It isn't easy to fight negative thinking and replace it with positive thinking, but those who expect great things from themselves don't always get to have an easy life--they have a great life!
  3. Know what you believe.  Do you have a philosophy of life? Do you believe good conquers evil, that you get out of life what you put in? Do you believe in God, in the importance of being kind, in sharing? Write down the major tenets of your beliefs. Now be sure you are living them. Positivity means freeing yourself to live by your beliefs instead of letting "real life" dictate what you do. What would you change if you had total freedom? Make that change a reality. I tremble a little even as I type this, because I have some big dreams and big things I want to transform in my own life. But the truth is you do have total freedom--you can choose to reorder your priorities, change you diet, your schedule, or how you respond to the difficult people in your life. The changes may not be comfortable, and some may take time to put in place, but you have the freedom to do it--do you have the courage? When you choose to look at life with a positive lens, living life according to your beliefs and  making changes that are good for you becomes simple. If you believe life works, then living life with integrity and purpose means you can't fail in the areas that really matter.
  4. Take care of yourself. Be as healthy as you can be, because positive, long-lasting accomplishment cannot happen in the face of self-destruction. Your life is a bigger project than any Olympic games. So be like an Olympic athlete--take your day-do-day routine seriously. Eat well--focus on really enjoying the good-quality food you eat as well as eating in moderation. Get enough rest. Most people don't get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation affects your ability to think, and predisposes you to a host of problems, including depression, lowered immune function, and clumsiness. Turn off constant exposure to violent programs, bitter conversation, or other llfe-sapping entertainments. You are a treasure--treat yourself with respect.
  5. Seriously find humor in everything.  Laughter is one of the cheapest and healthiest treats you can give yourself. It releases endorphins, can give your abdomen a workout, relieves stress, and causes a cascade of positive hormonal functions in the body. Regular laughter rewires your brain to seek joy. Find reasons to laugh as often as you can. When you can't find anything to laugh about, laugh anyway. If you are in the midst of loss, laughter may provoke tears, but that is also a natural energy release, and is healthy.
A positive outlook increases your enjoyment in life, improves your health, and greatly improves your ability to do the things you want to do. These five points will help you live a positive life doing the things you want to do and enjoying them! 

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