12 Months of Change: How to Focus on the Positive
By Sara Butler
Question: When you look at a rose, what do you see? Some people recoil because they can only see thorns, but some smile because they see the rose and all its beauty. Are you a thorn person or a rose person? It’s deep, right? But it’s still a good question because it can provide insight into whether you need to spend a little time in 2022 learning how to focus on the positive.
Let’s face it, with the world as it is, we could all use a little positive thinking. It can be very easy to get bogged down and focus only on the negative things surrounding you in life, but if you can change your mindset, then the whole world can open up before you. You’ll improve your confidence, your mood, and even reduce your risk of chronic illnesses that are exacerbated by stress (such as high blood pressure).
As part of a monthly series to affect healthy change in your life, here are some practical tips that you can use to turn 2022 into the most positive year yet!
Start the Day Right
You know those days when you wake up late, spill coffee all over your computer, and have an argument with your kid about what they’re wearing to school? It’s not a great way to start and can set you up for disappointment since you started your day with negativity. But there’s a better way!
Set the tone for your day by starting with a positive affirmation. Get in front of a mirror and say something nice to yourself. It could be something as simple as “Today is going to be a good day” or “I’m going to be amazing today.” Although the concept was satirized on Saturday Night Live by comedian Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character -- “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me” -- there’s something there.
Whatever you think you need to hear to lay down some positivity first thing in the morning is a good thing and can improve your outlook for the entire day.
Note the Small Stuff
No day is going to be perfect. There will be obstacles and things that make you feel as if you’re Artax the horse from The Neverending Story, succumbing to the Swamp of Sadness. Your way out? Take note of the positives, no matter how small.
When something happens in your day that challenges you, focus on the good things about it, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. A good example is getting stuck in traffic during rush hour. You could rage and focus on how you’re going to be late for work, an important meeting, or an appointment, but you should instead think about something else, like having more time to listen to the podcast you’ve been bingeing on in the car.
Drop Some Beats
Music can transport you -- and help you to feel a little better. So why not use it to your advantage when you’re trying to change your outlook to a more positive one? If you are in a funk, then maybe it’s time to get funky and turn on your favorite upbeat song. Sing along, dance around, and do whatever feels right. You may be surprised by how much it can lift your mood and make you feel a little bit better about what lies ahead.
Discover the Humor in Difficult Circumstances
Even dark situations or events that test you can have something about them that may be funny. It’s important to remind yourself that even frustrating or terrible situations will make great stories to tell your friends and family later. Finding humor in the situations you suffer through over the course of the day will help you to feel not as overwhelmed.
OK, so staying positive is advice you probably hear a lot -- but that’s for good reason! How you talk to yourself can have a real impact on your day and your mindset. You should think about how you speak to yourself and consider if you would talk to someone you love that way. If you wouldn’t, then it’s time to replace the negative messages you send yourself with more positive ones. Instead of thinking about how bad you are at something, think instead about how you’ll get better with more practice; great athletes, for example, don’t practice what they’re good at, they practice on improving their weaknesses.
Live in the Now
You cannot focus on the challenging situations that you encounter during your day or it will drag you down. Instead, try to focus on the moment you’re in right now. Forget what happened five minutes ago or what could happen five minutes from now, instead, take each moment as it comes, and chances are it won’t feel so overwhelming to you. It’s important to understand that a lot of negativity people experience comes from events that have recently occurred or their worst-case scenario of a future event. Stay in the moment and try not to dwell on what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. That’s not to say you can’t work to change the future, but an imagined worst-case scenario shouldn’t consume your head space.
Surround Yourself With Positivity
It’s important to find people in your life who help to support you and are positive. Their positive outlook, affirmations, and stories can help to impact your thinking. If you hang out with a bunch of negative people, their influence will simply reinforce your negative outlook and you’ll become one of them. Conversely, seek out those who have a bit more of a positive view and you can work together to make the world feel a little brighter and happier. It’s not uncommon to attract people who are similar to you, so being upbeat is likely to attract more people into your friendship circle.
It’s not as difficult as you may imagine to implement these tips into your daily life -- remember, you have to live in the now! Take each day as it comes and you may find that the more positive thinking you do, the easier it is to keep thinking positive and reap all its benefits. Remember -- see the roses for their beauty, not for their thorns.
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