Wednesday, January 28, 2015

on staying positive



A new year inevitably means new year's resolutions. I haven't had strict "resolutions" for the past few years, because my resolutions are always pretty much the same: keep exercising, keep reading, and keep budgeting. In fact, my Book List/Currently Reading tab began as a way to keep track of the books I read at a time when I had fallen out of the habit of reading for fun. Ever since I took off the pressure of making "New Years Resolutions", I found that I was more successful at achieving my three simple goals. I just used the new year as a time to remind myself to stick to these three lifestyle choices.

However, I did want to add in another mini-resolution for 2015: staying positive.

I know that positivity is kind of a buzzword within the blogging community right now and I think that it's a great thing that a lot of people are talking about it. For one thing, it's a great reminder when you see another person post about positivity. More importantly, it's fun to see how others keep themselves focused on staying positive, because we all have different activities that put us in a positive headspace. Getting a range of ideas for staying positive only gives you more material to work with!

Here's what I do to stay positive:

- surround yourself with positive people // I have seen this one on a number of lists and for good reason. I am definitely someone who sucks up emotion (particularly negative emotions) like a sponge, so if I am constantly around negative people, then I become negative too. I think that more people see certain emotions as being particularly contagious: Sara Ahmed writes that "Anxiety is sticky: rather like Velcro, it tends to pick up whatever comes near". I think the same can be said for positivity as well, which is why I try to surround myself with people who are intentionally positive.

- force yourself to refocus // I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to falling into negativity. For various reasons I also tend to lean more towards negativity than I'd like to admit. To combat that tendency, I started keeping a special notebook in which I write down five things I am thankful for each day. I heard on NPR's "The Science of Happiness" that the happiest (i.e. the most positive) people were also those who were the most grateful. It's easy to forget the many good aspects of your life when you are hitting an emotionally low point. However, I've found that manually changing my perspective and making myself write down the good things in my life has made me a more positive person.

- learn to think long-term // Sometimes the things that make us more negative are situational. Often times this means that you can't always remove yourself from the person or situation that is causing you to be more negative. This could be something like loss of a job, family issues, or financial issues. What helps me during moments of situational negativity is to remember to think long-term. Whatever the situation is, it will not be that way forever. In the meantime, take care of yourself and do as much as you can to keep yourself positive - whether that be teaching yourself a new skill, pouring new energy into hobbies, or even exercising. Taking your mind off the problem and looking toward the future definitely helps to but some things in perspective.

How do you keep yourself positive?


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