We all have those times where we find ourselves upset, and that’s when the knee-jerk reactions kick in. But, have you ever taken the time to decide how you will calm yourself to the point that you can offer a thoughtful response instead? Maybe it’s time we all give the idea some thought.
The habit of a negative response
I remember, as a teacher and then a principal, there were some teachers who always seemed to be picking at the negatives. Why doesn’t this work better? Why is that the way it is? Who decided on that stupid rule?
While there may be nothing wrong with asking these questions, in and of itself, the people asking never offered possible solutions. They would just point out, constantly, what they thought was wrong. With anything. With everything.
What I didn’t know then, but am well aware of now, is that negative thinking can become a habit. According to Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, 80% of everyone’s thoughts contain some sort of negative thinking. So, not only is ‘looking for the negatives’ a part our evolutionary heritage, if we remain unaware of the issue the pattern will continue and can grow. Before we know it, we’ll be scanning the landscape for things that are wrong and we’ll have compounded the problem.
And the negativity spreads. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, and Michelle Gielan, author of Broadcasting Happiness, have taught us well that we can catch someone’s mood, or frame of mind, faster than the germs that give us their colds infect us. Actually, 40% of people get stressed when they notice the same in their romantic partner.
Changing to a positive view of your landscape
Just like you have the ability to change any other bad habit, you can take steps to improve your thinking pattern.
- When you find yourself having a negative thought, try to replace it with a positive. Instead of “My arms are so fat regardless of the number and consistency of exercises I perform” try “I’m really lucky to have two arms attached to my body that actually work for me.”
- If you find yourself imagining a negative situation, bring yourself back to the present. If you’re imagining a situation, then it’s really a figment of your imagination. Focus on what is happening right that second and remind yourself that that negative situation doesn’t really exist. “That’s not even true! Stop imagining things!”
- If you notice that you use negative words, try changing your statements to ones of positivity. Instead of “I can’t do that” try “It may be hard for me but I’m going to try my hardest.”
- Where are the places you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts? Try posting positive quotes or motivators where you can easily access them. Next to your mirror, in your closet, beside your work computer, in your wallet, or on the top of your sun visor in your car. These, and other similar, places will give you a fast reminder of the positivity you are trying to bring back into your life.
There are limitless options available for you, and a whole world waiting for you to embrace life with positivity and joy.
Now is the time to begin!