How I Am Learning to Be Positive
How often do we ruin our days before they even begin?
Before we have a chance to shine, we orchestrate catastrophe.
We think our day isn’t going to go well, and then we are surprised when it doesn’t go well.
Does Monday mean that we have to plaster frowns on our faces?
Does Friday mean that everything is going to go our way? That we are entitled to splurge on food and entertainment because we made it through the week? That nothing go could wrong for us because the weekend is only a day away?
Many people are guilty of this. I have been guilty of this.
But I’m doing what I can to develop my awareness so that I can manage my mind and my mood.
I started an experiment about a year ago.
I thought I would finally give positive psychology a try, so I decided to immerse myself in positivity.
I was in graduate school in the time, and I felt myself frequently getting jaded about the woes and the unending rules and stipulations of formal education.
I needed something to pluck me out of my self-pity and boost my mood.
I decided that I would flood my mind with positivity.
That meant searching YouTube for inspiring videos and listening to them whenever I was doing something monotonous. I also listened to inspirational talks and video mash-ups when I was driving to and from my social work internship. I also decided to listen to audiobooks.
I’ve been a voracious reader for the last several years — I read 50–80 books a year — but I had only dabbled in the world of the vaunted audiobook.
I purchased a discounted Audible plan a few months prior, and I still had a few more credits to use. So I bought books that would inspire me, and I listened to those as well.
And wouldn’t you know it, my world started to change.
At first I didn’t notice much of anything.
I just listened to the books and took in the information.
Because I love to learn, simply doing that was enjoyable enough.
But then I noticed other changes.
I noticed that my outlook on life started to change.
I started to notice possibilities where before I only saw problems.
Don’t get me wrong, the problems still remained. My brain has always skewed towards the negative, and I doubt that will ever go away.
But the big difference was that all of the positive information I was listening to and reading started to have a noticeable impact on how I perceived the world.
If this is starting to sound like a corny infomercial to you, then that’s great. The change has been that drastic.
Pumping my brain with positivity has turned me into a person who now naturally wants to be positive. It has also opened my eyes to how unbelievably negative the world is most of the time.
I think the default in our modern society is to just join in — to drink up the negative, sensational news, and commiserate with the masses.
But now I believe there is a different way.
It’s possible to see the frustration and the complaining and the hatred — and choose not to join it.
It’s possible to hold onto yourself when the world is telling you that you should be feeling anxious and disgruntled.
My body already is predisposed to anxiety. I don’t need to make daily decisions to add to the garbled signals shouted out by my neurons.
Now I’m living my life with intention.
I have been setting a yearly intention for the past few years. This year I am focused on doing things that scare me. Two years ago, my intention was to — wait for it — live with intention.
That year taught me a lot about myself — most important of which was the fact that I was wasting a TON of my time every day. And the worst part was that I wasn’t spending it in ways that made me happy. I was anxiously floating along, scanning through apps and worrying I wasn’t going to have enough time to do everything I wanted to do.
So first I got my intention straight, and now I’m on to positivity.
My completely anecdotal, sample-size-of-one experiment has been a success.
My brain seems to be rewiring itself.
My perception is becoming more vibrant. Things that weren’t working out before now seem to be coming together.
So why is this change happening?
I think it has a lot to do with believing it’s possible — with taking silly, repetitive actions simply because they are positive.
Call it law of attraction or the power of positive thinking — but something is happening here.
I’m even noticing it with a new job that I started recently.
Normally, when I first start a job, I am anxious and hesitant. I want to do the right thing and make a good impression.
I still want that with this job, but now I’ve been approaching the learning curve with a new aura of positivity.
I’ve made mistakes. We all do when we first start new jobs.
But before my mindset shift, I would have become mired in a web of overthinking and perseveration. Now I want to collect as much feedback as I can and absorb it. I’m almost treating it like a game.
The faster I can get feedback, the faster I can learn. And the faster I can learn, the easier things will get — which, I believe, will lead to more positive interactions and experiences down the road.
At least, that is what my life has taught me so far.
And through it all, even when my brain is telling me to stop, turn back and protect itself from incoming threats, I’m sticking to the positive script.
I’m choosing what I accept into my mind and what I leave out in this default world of negativity.
And the simple act of making the choice, of choosing what enters and what stays at the door, has taught me that self-reliance is the only way to rely that my day will go a certain way.