I admit it. I’m a positive person. Put simply, positive people are hopeful, encouraging and optimistic, even when faced with challenges, problems or set backs. Being optimistic isn’t the same as being unrealistic, although I’ve been accused of that. It also doesn’t mean that higher energy people don’t feel sadness, grief, anger or uncertainty occasionally. They just don’t get taken out by those situations and emotions.
I’ve compiled a short list of seven truths about positive people, characteristics that can be adopted by anyone who desires to shift a negative attitude.
1. They express gratitude.
Expressing gratitude aloud, through prayer, meditation or song, or in journals is essential. One negative experience during the day can overshadow the good experiences we had. Expressing gratitude shifts attention from the negative to the positive. Research has shown that gratitude significantly increases happiness and wellbeing while lowering stress, anxiety and depression.
Tip: Strengthen your gratitude by writing five things you are grateful for, at the end of each day.
2. They reframe challenges.
Positive people don’t live challenge free lives. They view them differently. A challenge can shut us down or shift us into victim mode or present an opportunity for growth. I choose to see the potential for learning and growing. One of my favorite things to remember when encountering a problem is that someday I will look back at this time and see the tremendous shifts that occurred as a result.
Tip: During a challenging time, write a letter to yourself from your future self, five years down the road, detailing how you grew through this time. Bonus: Save the letter and read it five years later.
3. They look for the silver lining.
Bad things happen and tragedies occur. Positive people don’t pretend bad things never happen. They do what they can to help themselves and others through the experience, without glossing over what happened. And, they look for that silver lining. Looking for the good, they find it. The 2011 tornado in Joplin was devastating. Lives were lost. An unbelievable amount of damage was done. I was affected as was my family. As a result of that destruction however, a community came together. Whole neighborhoods changed, for the better. Volunteers blessed us. And I got new dirt, in a new yard, and at last created my long dreamed of Backyard Paradise.
Tip: Practice looking for the good when bad things happen…for what we focus on, we find. If we look for good, we will find it. If we look for bad, we will find that too.
4. Positive people practice excellent self care.
We cannot take care of others, and encourage them, unless we first do the same for ourselves. Self care looks differently for everyone, however a solid foundation includes eating healthy foods, getting enough rest, being active, spending time doing favorite things, and developing a spiritual practice. Positive and negative have to do with energy. Positive energy has a higher vibration while negative energy is lower. Taking care of the body, mind, emotions and spirit results in a higher vibrational frequency that we experience as bliss and joy.
Tip: Create an easy to follow self care regimen that includes diet, rest, exercise, fun and a spiritual practice.
5. They use positive words.
Positive people express themselves with positive words. Words are powerful. They create reality. We literally speak our reality into existence. Don’t believe me? Start your day with a string of low energy, negative words and see how your day progresses from there! The words we speak to ourselves and about ourselves are crucial as well. If we constantly criticize ourselves or call ourselves names, we will live up…or down…to that spoken expectation. And if we are in the habit of criticizing ourselves, we are much more likely to criticize others. In spite of the nursery rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, words DO hurt. Negative words have a negative impact on the body. For a fascinating study about this truth, see Dr. Emoto’s work.
Tip: Wear a wrist band or a simple rubber band around the wrist and every time you catch yourself saying negative words, or even having negative thoughts, flip it. Set a goal of going an entire day without speaking negatively.
6. They don’t dwell on the past.
Dwelling in the past, blaming the past, does not contribute to a positive now. The past is unchangeable. Thinking about what’s happened, reliving it or talking about it constantly keeps us stuck there. And it keeps our energy low. Low energy = negative energy. I love the expression about not looking at the past…we aren’t going that way. Positive people focus on the present moment and let the future unfold. Sure, we can have dreams and goals for the future. Stressing about outcomes though isn’t helpful either. Let go of the past. Turn around. Live in the moment. Embrace what comes.
Tip: Create a focus word that immediately brings you into the present moment, when you realize you are dwelling on a past experience. My word is adsum, which means “I am here”. Use any word that is meaningful to you.
7. They don’t get drawn into other people’s drama.
Drama has a negative, draining effect. Some people, however, seemed to prefer to dwell there and want to ensnare others to occupy that space with them. Misery loves company. Eliminating drama from our lives means refusing to get drawn into it to begin with. Which in turn means being careful about who we hang out with. Because like draws like, being positive will naturally attract more positive people while being unattractive to negative people. Positive people may occasionally have to deal with drama, however they do not stay in that space. It does not feel good.
Tip: If you find a lot of drama going on around you, use it as a sign to increase positivity in your life. Use the six tips above to shift your energy. When you must deal with drama, offer help and then exit the situation as quickly as possible and practice extreme self care.
I don’t regret being a positive person. Truthfully, I don’t know any other way to be. Being positive doesn’t make me unsympathetic toward others. Rather, it gives me empathy and compassion for others, especially those who are struggling or hurting.
Recently my granddaughter, who is an old soul in a young body, said to me, “Yaya, you’re a positive person. What do you think about this?” She went on to talk to me about a very negative situation. How precious and tender her heart is, and how special the opportunity she offered. I told her that yes, I’m a positive person but that bad things are not okay with me. They make me angry or sad too, however I don’t stay that way for long. I attempt to change what I can and hope for the best. I let her see the tears in my eyes and I saw the tears in hers. Our conversation ended with hugs and I love yous.
That’s what’s at the heart of a positive attitude. Love. Love and the desire to do good in the world and good in the lives of others and to see things in the best possible light. I can do that. You can do that.