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Embracing Positive Thinking

By: Jose Maria M. Villarama IIEmbracing Positive Thinking

When a popular model won the chance to represent the Philippines in a prestigious international beauty pageant for the second time around, not everyone seemed to be happy for her. While not questioning her ultimate victory, some former beauty titleholders commented that other candidates deserved to win a particular special award that she received. This agitated the winner’s fans who quickly rallied behind their heroine and started bashing her critics. However, the newly-crowned queen responded by calling for calm and asking her followers to respond to critics with positivity.

These days, it seems very difficult to stay positive, with all the bad news, stress, and negativity present in society. On social media alone, many platforms are abounding with trolls, ready to pounce at any given opportunity. Daily life is also filled with failures and frustrations that drag people down. Such negativity impacts how one works, how he or she relates to people or even his or her mental and emotional health. Some people even go into depression, thinking that their situation is devoid of any hope.

However, there are ways to make the seemingly difficult life more manageable:

Start each day with positive affirmation – While some perceive this as merely blowing nothings into the wind, one can actually liken it to saying a prayer, which is usually a source of hope for believers. In psychology, it is said that the way a person anticipates his or her response to a given situation truly influences how he or she will actually respond. This is called response expectancy and this is how affirmations can work to one’s advantage. 

Count your blessings – Those who have become weary or skeptical of the world cannot see their blessings.  But if one sees blessings as something special or truly extraordinary, like an ace in a spread of cards, one will always have a lifeline out of a tight or negative situation. However, one must first learn to acknowledge that there will always be bad days. However, blessings or ‘aces’ are there to offset the negativity of these bad days.

Look for the silver lining – One way of doing this is to find the lighter side of things in bad situations. While a negative experience, like losing a job, is definitely no laughing matter, think of how “resting for a while” will allow more time for oneself, family, or friends or become an opportunity to upgrade oneself, perhaps by learning a new skill that can be used for the next job.

Learn from mistakes – Failures are learning opportunities to avoid committing the same or similar mishap in the future and will enable one to troubleshoot a situation gone awry the next time it happens.

Don’t dwell on the past – Mistakes or failures made in the past should not dictate the outcome of a present situation. Although the key elements of the present may be similar to those of the past, the two are separate points in time that do not intersect and have nothing to do with each other. Therefore, a failure then does not mean a failure now. In the same way, what is happening at this moment is different from the negative situation experienced 5 minutes ago or 5 minutes from now. 

Hang out with positive people – Surrounding oneself with happy, baggage-free people will enable one to draw positivity to oneself and have a more positive outlook.  Conversely, being with negative people can drag one down.

Don’t be too hard on yourself – Wrong decisions are made and mistakes happen.  This is all part of being human. Blaming oneself or looking for someone to blame only compounds the situation. Be kind to yourself and the universe will be kind to you. Another way of being kind to oneself is to have a treat, whether that be food or a massage, especially on a bad day.

Walk, don’t run – Stress levels usually peak when every situation is approached at hyperspeed.  While things may get done quickly, mistakes can easily be committed at this pace. Being calm and composed, even in a negative situation, gives one the clarity of mind needed to resolve the issue.

Don’t inflate problems – Often, people make the mistake of lumping one issue with another, compounding the situation. If the next step to complete task C is to finish task B first, focus all energy on task B and get rid of the anxiety of not finishing task C yet.  In a competitive situation, never look at what the other has accomplished but instead focus on what you still need to do.   

Increase endorphins – Exercise can give one a natural high by releasing happy hormones into the brain. Working out regularly does wonders for the health and gives a constant supply of endorphins. Chocolates are said to have high doses of endorphins too.

Let it go – Venting is the most natural way to release negativity. However, it doesn’t mean going into a fit of rage or lashing out at people who have wronged you.  Simply talking it out with the person involved or speaking to family or friends lifts away the burden caused by negativity.  Seeking professional help from a counselor or therapist is another way to release pent-up frustrations, especially when the situation has become too intricate to untangle.

Try again – Most of the time, when people get frustrated because a particular situation did not achieve the desired outcome, the natural reaction is to quit or lash out.  However, not everything in the process leading up to the failure could be bad.  Pick the elements that worked and weed out those that may have contributed to the failure. In attempting a second crack at the situation, track progress instead of focusing on missteps. Set your eyes on the end goal and before you know it, one’s sense of frustration will turn into a sense of accomplishment.

Negativity is said to be merely a frame of mind. Always looking at the brighter side of things keeps one on the right track to achieving positive goals or results. As Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”

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