Written by Nigel Ford, who’s writing career has spanned several newspapers, magazines, a novel, and endless freelance articles. Neil is comic, an addictions counselor with throes of experience, and an adventurer – both in life, and in writing.
1) Eliminate negative influences from your life
This is the big one. Negativity breeds negativity. A lot of people are surrounded by negative influences because it’s what they’ve become accustomed to. Perhaps they were raised in an abusive family, leading them to seek out abusive or codependent relationships.
People have a tendency to ‘rub off’ on each other, or absorb certain traits and qualities from those they’re surrounded with. It only makes sense that being surrounded by negative people will result in you developing a negative mindset!
You can try: spending less time with those people who don’t have an overtly positive effect on your life.
2) Check your internal dialogue
A lot of people are harassed by an internal dialogue that’s inherently negative. The problem with this is that most folk aren’t even aware of their internal dialogue. It’s such a subtle constant in life that they don’t realize the effect it has.
To check your internal dialogue, simply pay attention to the things you think before you speak. Oftentimes, people who struggle with depression and negativity have a different train of thought than they express. This can make it difficult, even for themselves, to realize where the source of the problem comes from.
If your typical response to a problem situation is “this sucks,” or “I don’t want to deal with this,” you might not verbally announce that. However, the thought sticks with you. Your enjoyment of whatever task you’re faced with is diminished, because the first thought that arose was something negative.
Clearing the negativity from your internal dialogue can have a huge effect on developing a positive outlook. Try and change “this sucks” into “I’ll learn something new.” Turn “I don’t want to deal with this,” into “here’s a new challenge I can overcome.”
You can try: being aware of your thoughts before you speak. Even if you have to fake it to make it, change your thoughts into something positive before acting.
3) Appreciate the small things
Positivity can come from something as simple as a cup of tea, or the warmth of the sun shining through your window as you read a book in the living room. For those lost in the throes of negativity, they often overlook the simple beauty of life. Instead, they’re swirling with thoughts about how the sunlight is too bright.
There is beauty to be found in everything, if you let yourself see it. To be able to appreciate small things, though, you need to make sure you’re ready to accept them! If your internal dialogue is still babbling with incessant negativity, you’ll find it very difficult to enjoy something like a cup of tea.
You can try: making a list of things you enjoy every night before you fall asleep. In the mornings, make a list of small things you plan to enjoy in the day.
4) Practice mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware at all times. This means being aware of your surroundings, your feelings, the influences affecting your mind and body – everything. It sounds simple, but being truly mindful is difficult for anyone who has been raised in our society.
The best way to practice mindfulness is to meditate! Find a practice that suits you. Meditation aimed around mindfulness is not about reaching some sort of nirvana. It’s about removing external distractions until you feel the essence of your Being. Sounds like some new-age riff-raff, but mindfulness has helped successful people accomplish many goals by eliminating distractions.
You can try: when you wake up in the morning, focus inward instead of outward. Instead of worrying about the day ahead, enjoy what you already have – your body, your bed, your possessions. Do not think about them consciously, lest you give negativity the chance to arise. Simply feel what it is to be, and do not attach labels or identity to any thought, action, or object. In a state of pure mindfulness, negativity does not have a chance to exist.
Negativity is a draining, downward spiraling trait that can drag even the most optimistic people towards rock bottom. Practicing these methods can help you eliminate negativity entirely and live a more positive life.
It’s good to develop a positive outlook, yes….however, I see people who refuse to acknowlede (or act on) negative situations because they only want to “think positive”. Or, they believe that just thinking “healing thoughts” will remedy critical situations, whether socio/political, familial, etc.
So, it seems important to acknowledge the difference between a positive orientation in general, and the kind of “faux positivity” which is actually a cop-out, and/or a refusal to face up to and act in situations requiring it.