The Power of Positivity
Sometimes, it may feel as if we are just going through the motions between class, work, sports, chores, errands, appointments, and what can seem like a million other responsibilities. Once we get caught up in this mindset, we may not take the time to appreciate all that we have. However, we have the power to change our thinking. Thinking in a more positive manner can help us lead more positive lives. What if we talked about what we get to do versus what we have to do? This simple switch can turn a hassle into an opportunity.
We may dread our school work and say, “I have so much homework to do today.” But we don’t have to think that way. Instead, we can think, “I have a lot of homework to do, but I get to have a quality education–a privilege that is denied to so many.” Or “I have to go to the dentist” into “I get to go to the dentist because I am lucky enough to have access to health care.” Sure, everything may not always be fun, but often times there are a lot of privileges hidden within our routine chores and habits. Changing our perspectives can change our mindset which actually has positive effects in other aspects of our lives.
Positive thinking has more power than we realize. In fact, our brains feed off of positivity. When we think optimistically, our brains produce serotonin. This naturally occurring chemical makes us happy and improves our overall well-being. And the more we practice positive habits, the more natural they become thanks to “plasticity”. Our brains are constantly forming new neural pathways. When we learn a new coping mechanism or gain a new perspective, we are creating new connections, essentially “training” our brains to think more positively! The effects of this kind of thinking over time are far reaching – even having the power to boost our immune systems and strengthen our heart health!
Now, training our brains isn’t always easy, it does take work. To know exactly what we need to change, we need to be aware of ourselves and our environments. First, we have to evaluate our own relationship with positivity – do we tend to focus on the good or bad? how often do we find ourselves complaining? what are our stress levels? what affects our mood? is our self-talk positive? Positivity is a scale and we all fall somewhere on that scale – answering these questions can help us discover where we are currently and where we want to be.
Then, we can take some time to think about the energy around us – do we have healthy friendships and relationships? is our work environment supportive? do we have interests and hobbies that energize us? do we receive uplifting messages from the media? It’s important to be mindful of our surroundings to better understand how they affect us and assess what changes we may want or need to make.
We can invite more positivity into our lives in a number of ways. Here are some tips that might help:
- Practice reframing: When you find yourself complaining or focusing on the negative in your daily life – intentionally reframe those things in your mind so that they are more positive. It’s something small that can make all the difference.
- Talk to a friend or family member: Spend some time simply just enjoying the people around you. Talk with a loved one (and don’t be afraid to put your phone down and have a good conversation), grab something to eat, have a good laugh. Anything to enjoy the people in your life!
- Journal: In times of stress or anxiety, consider taking time to journal. Not only can it be a healthy way to declutter your mind, but a positive way to connect with yourself and your thoughts. When stuck, try writing a list of what you’re thankful for!
- Take a walk: Don’t underestimate the power of the great outdoors. Get outside, take a walk (releases endorphins!), enjoy the fresh air, watch the sunset.
- Partake in an act of kindness: This does not have to be some grand gesture but find a way to make someone else smile. Compliment a stranger, buy a friend a cup of coffee, call your relative just to say hi. Doing something to brighten someone else’s day, just might brighten your own.
- Ask for help: If you are really struggling, reach out for help. There are so many people and resources available if we ever feel like we can’t do this on our own.
In reality, not everything in life is positive. There are infinite things that can happen that are out of our control. While we cannot change what happens, we can change how we respond to it. Ultimately, you have to find something that works for you! Keep in mind, this may look different for different people and it may look different for you on different days. Keep trying different things out – you just may be surprised!
As leaders, we have a responsibility to not only find the good but to make the good. Positive thinking may not only light up your own life but allow you to be a light for others. This short video shows just how wonderfully powerful we can be in each other’s lives with this kind of positivity. Be someone’s “lollipop moment” this week!
*Meet the Author*
Caroline is a senior in college who loves dogs, the beach, sunshine, and traveling!