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We have all obtained the well-meaning information to “stay positive”. The greater the challenge, the more this glass-half-full wisdom can come across as Pollyannaish and unrealistic. It’s tricky to get the motivation to focus on the positive when positivity seems like nothing more than wishful thinking.
The true barrier to positivity is that our brains are hard-wired to look for and focus on risks. This survival mechanism served humankind back when we were hunters and gatherers, living daily with the very real threat of being killed by someone or something in our immediate environment.
This was ages ago. Currently, this mechanism breeds pessimism and negativity throughout the brain’s tendency to ramble until it finds a threat. These “threats” magnify the perceived likelihood that things are moving –or will move –badly. After the danger is real and lurking in the bushes later on, this mechanism serves you well. After the danger is imagined and you spend two weeks convinced the job you’re working on will flop, this mechanism leaves you with a soured perspective of truth that wreaks havoc on your life.
Keeping positivity is a daily challenge that requires attention and focus. You want to be intentional about remaining positive in case you’ll conquer the mind’s tendency to concentrate on threats. It will not happen by accident. That’s the reason why positivity is the ability that I will be providing extra attention in 2016.
Positivity and Your Health
Pessimism is trouble as it is bad for your health and as result your body. Different studies have shown that optimists are emotionally and physically healthier than pessimists.
Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania completed extensive research on the subject. Seligman worked with researchers from Dartmouth and the University of Michigan on a study that followed people from age 25 to 65 to observe how their degrees of pessimism or optimism affected their general wellbeing. The researchers found that pessimists’ health deteriorated far quicker as they aged.
Seligman’s findings are similar to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic that found optimists have diminished levels of cardiovascular disease and more life-spans. Whatever the fact that the particular mechanism where pessimism affects health has not yet been identified, researchers at Yale and the University of Colorado found that pessimism is joined to a diminished immune response to tumors and disease.
Researchers at the University of Kentucky went so far as to inject optimists and pessimists with a virus to quantify their immune response. The researchers discovered optimists had a much stronger immune response than pessimists.
Positivity and Performance
Keeping a positive attitude isn’t only good for your health. Martin Seligman has also studied the connection between positivity and performance. In 1 study especially, he measured the degree to which insurance salespeople were optimistic or pessimistic in their occupation. Optimistic salespeople sold 37 percent more policies than pessimists, who were twice as likely to leave the company during their first year of employment.
Seligman has analyzed positivity over anyone, and he believes in the ability to turn pessimistic thoughts and tendencies around with simple hard work and know-how. But Seligman doesn’t just think this. His research demonstrates that individuals can transform a tendency toward pessimistic thinking into positive thinking through simple procedures that create lasting changes in behavior long after they are found.
Here are 3 things that I will do this season to stay positive.
1. Separate Fact from Fiction
The first step in learning how to focus on the positive requires understanding how to stop negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more energy you give them. Most our negative thoughts are just that — ideas, not facts.
When you wind up contemplating the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking. Whenever you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your own thoughts, you will be more logical and clear-headed in analyzing their veracity. Assess these statements to determine whether they’re factual. You can bet the statements aren’t accurate whenever you see words such as never, always, worst, ever, etc.
Do you lose your keys? Of course not. Perhaps you overlook them frequently, but most days you do remember them. Are you likely to have a solution to your problem? If you are that stuck, maybe you’ve been resisting asking assistance. Or if it really is an intractable problem, then why are you wasting your time beating your head against the wall? If your statements still look like facts after they are on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you can trust, and find out whether she agrees with you. Then the truth will definitely come out.
If it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat trend inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts as ideas by separating them from the truth can permit you to escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive brand new perspective.
2. Identify a Favorable
As soon as you end up from self-defeating, negative thoughts, now is the time to aid your mind learn precisely what you want it to focus on — the optimistic.
This will come naturally after some practice, but you want to present your drifting brain a little bit of assistance by knowingly choosing something positive to take into account. Any positive thought will do to refocus your mind’s attention. When things are going well, and your mood is very good, this is relatively straightforward. When things are going badly, and your mind is saturated with negative thoughts, this might be challenging. In such moments, consider your everyday life and identify one positive thing that happened, however modest. If you can’t consider something from the present day, reflect on the previous day or even the preceding week. Or perhaps there is an exciting event you’re awaiting you can focus your attention on.
The purpose here is that you need to have something positive that you are prepared to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative. Measure one stripped off the energy from negative thoughts by separating fact from fiction. Step two is to replace the negative with a positive. The moment you’ve produced a positive concept, draw your attention to this idea as soon as you find yourself dwelling on the negative. If this proves difficult, you can repeat the process of writing down the negative thoughts to discredit their validity, and then allow yourself publicly appreciate positive thoughts.
3. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Taking time to consider what you’re thankful for isn’t only the”right” thing to do; it lessens the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that individuals who worked to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy and less stress due to lower cortisol levels.
You cultivate an attitude of gratitude by taking time out each day to concentrate on the positive. At any time you encounter negative or negative thoughts, use this as a cue to change gears and think about something positive. With time, a positive attitude will get a system of life.