Even before this pandemic struck the world, people have been struggling to regain positivity. From the widespread of negative news from media outlets and others to people’s general mindset leaning towards negativity. The world can feel like a dark and bleak place, especially now.
Because so many of us are in these kinds of environments day in and day out, it’s easy to think that the world is always going to be like this. There is no way out of this and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do about it. The reality is that’s not the case.
You can work to change your environment, further your own mindset, understand yourself better, and more.
There are several ways for you to regain positivity. Even in situations like these where things don’t seem like they’re getting better. Here are a handful of ways you can do this.
Regain Positivity Through Knowing Yourself
Even if you know yourself pretty well, we are still making small changes in our lives. All of us are growing in our own way and that in turn changes who we are to some extent. Over the years I’ve come to learn that even picking up the most smallest of habits can cause a ripple effect.
For example, one way that I’ve been able to get back into writing – beyond doing my client work – is by answering questions on Quora. I spent time deliberately putting together detailed posts just like I would with these articles. Even though those posts are shorter they put me into the tonne of voice I use for these posts.
And not to sound too narcissistic, I do like the style that I’ve been forming over the years of writing.
My point in all this is that an activity that takes me about 30 minutes every day contributes so much to my life. All the same, taking about 30 minutes of your time to check on yourself and understand an aspect of you can have ripple effects too. I challenge you to ask yourself deep questions, check yourself, learn about your opinions and values all over again and more for 30 minutes a day.
What’s nice about this is that you don’t need to spend this time sitting around doing nothing. Do some menial task and allow your mind to wander. Or do something more engaging like writing and let your thoughts spill out.
The more you know yourself, the more you’ll know what makes you happy.
More importantly than that, you’ll also know what sources are derailing your mood. From there, you can make changes in your life to mitigate those problems. I know for myself, spending more time watching America tear itself apart is not going to do much for mood. And so, I make a point of only peeking at it once in a while rather than constantly.
That said, I bet many people are constantly indulging in these things hence why people have such hatred and negativity around various issues. Particularly in everything pertaining to America’s handling of this pandemic.
With this in mind, it’s important that you get a balance. Understand your limits of how much of something good or bad you can handle and ensure you don’t go overboard with it.
Find Positive Pockets Where You Can
These days we live in carefully crafted communities. Social media is an echo chamber of our opinions and views. The people that we spend time around at work and in our personal lives. These are all formed based on our own views of the world and continue to affirm that.
It sounds like a great thing, but it creates various development issues depending on the environment being created. A politically charged environment such as this one can lead to people revealing their political views. Some of it can be tolerable, while others can border on disturbing to frightening.
In other situations, environments can prevent people from quitting drugs or smoking or other terrible habits. And my guess is if you’re trying to regain positivity, the environments that you’re in are impacting you on some level.
If that’s the case, it’s important that you make changes to those environments. While finding environments with different views to you are helpful, the main priority for you is to find environments you can go to where you feel welcomed and appreciated.
Some places to start are on the social media platforms you frequent. Make a point of following and consuming content from people who make you feel good.
Have Higher Expectations For Yourself
Another angle to happiness has to do with fulfilment. I get all kinds of questions from Quora but some of the ones that have come up have some age element to it. From 18 year-olds asking about what habits to have when they become adults to people asking me if they’re too old to do something.
I feel the reason people ask these questions has to do with our own expectations of ourselves at various points in time of our life. While that can be great, they can be unrealistic and detrimental to us as well.
It reminds me of someone I chatted with back in college who said I’d be married by 25. The truth is, at 25, I was still sorting out my life. I’m almost 29 and I haven’t even gotten into the dating world at all. While it might be sad, many of us think that way because we have warped expectations.
People expect to have their career sorted out by their early 20s. Married by 25, have a house by 30, and maybe by early 30s, they’re going to have kids.
The thing is life doesn’t always work that way…
I live in an apartment with my cousin, haven’t dated a soul since I was 16, and I’m at a point where my job can support myself for the most part. Does the lack of a house, car, spouse, family, and a more prosperous career make me any less fulfilled? I’d argue no.
Instead of holding yourself to those standards, change them and make your own. It’s okay if you haven’t dated anyone in a while. It’s okay that you don’t have your life all sorted out. We have these benchmarks there because it’s easy for us to have some general timeline.
Create your own timeline and strive to work towards those benchmarks. Set yourself goals that you truly care about and achieve them. No matter how long it takes. Take measures every month and assess your progress. Even with a pandemic going on you can still set great goals and achieve them.
And above all, ignore what other people tell you or expect from you. You don’t need to conform to their standards. Only yours.
When you have a plan, you set yourself expectations.
Expectations that you can achieve and want to achieve. Make sure that this timeline is something you want to fulfil and take it one step at a time. To help with that, ask yourself right now these questions:
- What do I expect for myself to achieve this month? This year? Next year?
- What is my progress in the aspects of my life? How can I maintain these expectations for myself while pursuing other things?
- What makes a better person in my eyes? What kind of expectations can I create for myself to achieve that same status?
Have Lazy/ Do-Nothing Days
This is a personal favourite of mine for obvious reasons. It’s an opportunity for you to sit around and do absolutely nothing productive at all.
Or maybe a little.
Either way, these are days that I call Lazy or Do-nothing days. And while these can seem counter-productive – especially if you’re running a business – I’d argue that having these from time to time can help people a lot.
During the times where we are constantly hustling, it’s easy for us to get absorbed in our work and forget about the other aspects of our lives. From my own experiences, these can lead to stress, anxiety, and a whole host of other problems.
I see these particular days as an opportunity to reflect and letting your subconscious mind take over during the day while you do something mind-numbing like binge Youtube videos or play video games (something that I frequently do during those days).
Having the opportunity to take breaks is helpful and regains positivity because it moves you away from those negative emotions. It gives you time to breathe and appreciate the leaps and bounds you’ve made in life.
Practice Realistic Positive Thinking
This has been something I’ve preached about as well and that is the idea of realistic positive thinking. This has been something I’ve been developing in myself ever since someone brought up the fact I’m always optimistic and thought that Canada was a massive positive propaganda machine to manipulate everyone into thinking that way.
The reality is that Canada isn’t like that. It’s more of a me thing.
However, that pushed me to think more about the right kind of positivity that I should be pushing. After all, there is some toxic positivity out there as I eventually found out.
This brings me to what realistic positive thinking is all about. It’s a thinking process that’s best described as positive leaning but still accounting for the world’s comings and goings. This is the type of positivity that I encourage from people as it is still optimism, but it pushes you to be aware of the surrounding issues and to seek other opinions and views.
This is important as companies and we as people have cornered ourselves into an echo chamber where we mostly hear our own thoughts and opinions. As soon as there is some opposing views or views that conflict with our own reality, it causes us to be uneasy, uncomfortable, and even spark hatred or anger.
Realistic positive thinking is the idea of choosing to be positive but understanding that our answer isn’t the final word and that we’re right. It’s giving the benefit of the doubt that we might be wrong about some things and that’s okay. We’re allowed to make mistakes. What matters is once we realize it’s a mistake, we make changes and grow from them.
Regain Positivity By Doing Activities Outside
One big source of positivity for me these days is going to the gym. I love going to the gym for a whole host of reasons. Not only does it help me to achieve one of my big goals, but also exercise of any kind is therapeutic. You don’t need to be going to the gym every time to get the benefits of being outdoors either.
Go for a walk around nature. Bike around the city. There are all kinds of activities that you can do to regain positivity.
Regain Positivity By Being There For Others
The guiding hand is a selfless act that is fantastic for you to regain positivity. And one thing to remember about this is that it doesn’t always have to be you giving out money to the needy or supporting non-profit organizations who help those in need. There are many small things that we can do in order to help people. I’ve even outlined some golden rules for helping people out a while ago.
This method regains positivity in a big way as it allows you to sink into helping others. For me, it’s an opportunity to set aside my own biases and opinions and focus on what is the best way for me to help someone out. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small.
I find that these individual acts are more impactful than say donating money to a good cause. Yes, there are many non-profits doing great work out there, but you don’t always know where that money is going to and even whether it’s going to that cause directly. After all, many non-profits are operated by a lot of for-profit people and those are paid positions. A small portion of your money could be going towards those individuals.
Instead, when you are doing something yourself for someone else, it’s more authentic and impactful. While it may be small in the grand scheme of things, I feel it’s more helpful to the world rather than donating $2 to a charity.
Manage Negative Emotions Better
When people are experiencing negative emotions to the point that it’s a problem, many tend to think of methods to eliminate those emotions. The reality is – and this is using my realistic positive thinking here – that negative emotions are a necessary part of our lives.
I know that it sucks, but after spending years rewiring myself and developing myself, I know that we need this sort of stuff despite our initial reaction.
That being said, we are able to learn how to better manage our negative emotions. It’s along the same lines as fear. We all experience fear in various forms, but there are some people who know how to deal with it and push through in the end.
So what are some ways for you to manage negativity and regain positivity in your life?
Well, changing environments is a big contributor to better management. When you change your environment, you’re changing the norms that that environment establishes and influences over you. This aspect goes back to the power of association. It’s the concept that who you spend most of your time with will determine key habits.
Environments follow a similar pattern in that the areas that you frequent will prompt certain ways of thinking. These environments can also be influenced by the people you spend time with. For example, this past year, I feel I’ve grown closer to my cousin due to the fact that part of our living room is devoted to our computers and computer desks. Since we’re around each other a lot, we get into various discussions and learn about one another.
Another area to manage negativity is by having a better grasp of yourself. When you know more about yourself, you’ll have an understanding of why you have certain negative or positive emotions. This can help you in mitigating their effects and influence over you as you’ll learn the sequence of events and what causes you to act in that way.
Consider Your Health And Eating Habits
One other aspect that people tend to forget about is their own health and eating habits. While there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that eating certain foods will make you happier, there are ample of studies where neglect of specific vitamins can have effects on your mood.
For example, a lack of tryptophan can cause us to feel depressed and angry. Scientists even uncovered that this was some of the reasons wars were started. Tryptophan is a nutrient found in meat. Also, keep in mind that the effect of these deficiencies tends to take hold after weeks of it not being addressed rather than within days or hours.
While this particular method overall isn’t going to cause a huge boost in regaining positivity, it’s still worth checking what you are eating on a regular basis. There are still foods that can make us feel terrible then and later on. Things like processed foods, sugars, trans fats, and refined carbs all have effects on our brain to some extent.
With that in mind, if you tend to lean towards that unhealthy side, I would encourage you to make some small changes in your diet. Again, it’s not much, but at the very least you’re not making the situation harder on you by trying to be happier in life while gorging on M&Ms and McDonalds.
Regain Positivity By Avoiding Inflating
What I mean by inflating is making problems, and bad events larger than they actually are. We all have problems and other things in our lives that need to be addressed. These are the things that push us when we find a solution and work on it. They give us purpose.
Problems are a sign that we have a lot of growing to do and it’s a good thing.
However many people don’t see problems that way. Worse, they make them bigger than they actually are. Many feel suppressed by these issues and then feed on that helplessness to drive themselves deeper down. I know that feeling all too well as it’s happened to me multiple times over my life.
My advice to you in regards to this is to spend a little more time in your head and properly assess the problem that you’re faced with. What’s even better is if you can break that problem down into small actions that you can take every month.
When I doubted myself about starting a business, I gave reasons for me to continue and broke down a few steps that I can take to put me in the right direction.
How I was able to grow my business followed the same pattern. I took that problem and broke it into steps like identifying revenue streams that are reasonable for me to work on and start building in that area. It’s how I started to work on Upwork and grow this writing business.
When I doubted my ability to lose weight, I did the same thing. Step 1: go to the gym three times a week. Step 2: follow the workouts and note any kind of progress there. Whether it’s weight loss the next day or next week, increase in weight, or a boost in ability to perform the exercise properly or with little guidance.
I know that we like to dramatize our problems, but the easiest way I find is to provide logic when necessary and to define your solution in the easiest way possible. Narrow it down to a habit that you can develop – that you want to develop – that will solve your problem.
Regain Positivity And Grow
You can regain positivity easily when you think more about it. More often than not, we tend to trap ourselves within a negative mental prison that we build ourselves. Little do we realize that we have the key in our pocket all along and that we can get out of it any time we like.
That said, the process isn’t so simple as that, but by practicing these methods and sticking to them can help you to see the world in a more positive light.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon