Keeping yourself in a positive frame of mind is hard … if you let it be.
I wrestle with it every day.
I want to be in a positive mindset, but sometimes – the path of least resistance leads me to be negative.
It’s easy to be cynical. The world is full of so many frustrations.
But when I am fortunate enough to catch myself red-handed at being negative, I do have a couple of tricks that help me turn my disposition around.
Everyone benefits when you’re in positive state of mind. But no one benefits more than you yourself.
The real trick is to put yourself in a mood conducive to positive thinking. A good mood. These five tips will help you through this process:
Yup, that’s it. Simply force yourself to smile. In the same way you force yourself to get out of bed in those wee early mornings of winter where all you want to do is continue sleeping in the warm comfortable bed rather than put your feet on that cold floor and start your morning preparations so that you can meet whatever obligations face you for that day.
Smile. Like stretching. Hold it for a minute – square on your face. As your mother always told you when you were little about making scary faces at people “your face will freeze that way”.
I promise you that after a minute of forcing a smile, you will actually feel like smiling.
Don’t ask me why. Why isn’t important. Just do it.
In the same way you forced yourself to smile, just break out in a forced laugh. It works the exact same way. And it’s good for you to. Nothing to laugh about? Laugh anyways. Just do it.
Granted – you do have to be careful about where – you can’t really just break into a laugh if you’re in a meeting and being told information you don’t like. But once you have a moment alone – break out into a good hard laugh.
A word of warning though - you should never do it in the washroom stall in a public bathroom either.
Once you have gotten past points 1 and 2, step three actually comes more easily.
3. Listen to yourself
Absolutely. Hear your own words (or thoughts in your head) and ask yourself “If I were someone else – would I want to be around me right now?”.
This usually is enough for me to shake myself out of the negative mindset. But if not, I move on to step 4.
4. Go find somebody else and tell them a joke
Anyone who works with me has probably experienced this. Suddenly I will simply appear at a colleague’s desk or office … and I will tell them a joke. They often look at me strangely and I walk away … because usually I am the only one who enjoys my jokes.
Did you hear about the pirate filing his health benefit claims?
After being on the high seas for several years, he arrives home and heads to his insurance company to pay his medical bills.
“I see you have a hook for a hand, how did that happen?” asks the adjudicator.
“Arrgggh … I was in a sword fight, and the bugger cut it off”, answered the Pirate.
“I see you have a peg for a leg?”
“I had to walk the plank and a shark bit it off”, replied the Pirate.
“hmmm, I see…. And the patch on your eye?”.
“Seagull poop”, explained the pirate.
“Seagull poop? I didn’t know it was dangerous enough to cause you to lose an eye?”
“Argggh … it’s not”, explained the Pirate. “It was the first day with me new hook!”
5. Turn obstacles into challenges
This is the tough one. This is the one that requires the most practice. This deserves to be the topic of a whole book. I’m certain many volumes have been written on this topic. But in short, the times that cause us the most frustration are those times where we feel we are not in control of meeting our obligations. You can identify these situations because you find yourself using the term “they”.
When you find the cause of your problems appear to be “they”, then it is time to empower yourself. You need to use instead terms like “I” or “we” to regain control.
Once you catch yourself saying something like “They really messed this up”, you need to answer that sentiment by, “here is what I / we are going to do to resolve this problem”. Then list your options as to what you can do to remedy the situation.
Don’t let “they” put obstacles in front you. Instead accept that obstacle as a challenge that you will address.
It is amazing how assuming control of a situation injects a positive confidence into your mindset.
In short, the first four are easy. And they do work. They can be applied at the drop of a hat. But the fifth tip is really more of philosophy that I am simply sharing with you. Should you choose to attempt to turn obstacles into challenges, understand that it is an effort you will likely not achieve perfectly the first time you attempt it. But with practice … you will find … over time … your thinking start to change.
Negative people blame others for their woes.
Rightly or wrongly. It doesn’t matter.
But a person successful in maintaining a positive mindset is one that accepts the cards they are dealt, and takes control of how the hand will be played.