By Shefa Ali
This week I uploaded and posted a question on Instagram that I got asked by a friend recently ‘Shefa, are you really that positive all the time?’
I often get asked several versions of this question “Where does your positivity come from?” “Can I learn how to be positive” “How do I stay positive even when things are going wrong?”
There are several things that come to my mind when these questions come up. I grew up in a very positive house hold, not once ever have I seen my grandmother or my mother have a negative attitude towards anyone or anything, so that definitely rubbed off on me.
However, no matter who we are, how we were brought up or how good our lives are, at some point we all face adversity and trials. One of the things I have learned over the last few years is to work on consciously improving my outlook on life.
With this I have developed an attitude that over time has become increasingly stable so that I can look at the world in a positive way during good days, but more importantly, I am better at staying positive and productive even during tough times.
A simple but most effective way to build a more positive outlook has, in my experience, been to ask helpful questions. I have learned to find the optimistic viewpoint in negative situations. When I am in what seems like a negative situation, I ask myself; what is one thing that is positive or good about this situation? And what is one opportunity within this situation?
I have taken steps to cultivate a positive environment for myself. I make active choices on who I spend time with. They say you are the sum of the 5 people that you spend most time with. To stay positive it is essential to have influences in your life that support you and lift you up instead of dragging you down. I call them energisers and drainers.
It is very easy to lose perspective and make problems seem bigger than they are, especially if you are stressed. A simple way to handle these situations, so they don’t get out of hand, is to: Breathe. If you have negative thoughts just stop, sit, down and just be still. Breathe in from your nose and exhale from your nose. Focus on just your in-breaths and out-breaths for a minute or two to calm your mind and body down. Refocus. Ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks?
Exercising regularly, eating and sleeping well helps to increase levels of positivity. I know this is very obvious, but many people still don’t do it. I highly recommend being mindful of these basic habits that may sound boring, but they do have a massive effect either way depending on how you manage them.
Start your day in a positive way. How you start your day usually sets the tone for the rest of your day. Maybe start your day by having an uplifting conversation with your family or a friend or you can spend some time with reading or listening to inspiring you tube videos over breakfast or on your way to work.
We can’t choose what happens in the world, but we can choose how we react. The ability to choose one thought over the next, is like our own personal weapon against stress.
* The author is a consultant and coach. Instagram handle: @miss_shefa, Website: missshefa.com
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