Negativity abounds everywhere. It can be found anywhere too. It is easy to get sucked into it and can be difficult to get out of it. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re surrounded by negativity until it’s too late. Hopefully you can catch it before then. Here are some tips to help you stay away from negativity and get into the positive.
Be careful of the people you surround yourself with. Some of them can be joy zappers and maybe they are unaware of it themselves. I believe that most people want to be good, so maybe they aren’t intending to hurt you, but by their constant complaining and lack of thankfulness, or by their constant gossiping, they really are hurting you and keeping you from having a healthy state of mind. There are millions of people in the world. Try to surround yourselves with those that are thankful, see the silver lining in all situations and are generally mostly happy and rarely say anything bad about anyone.
Be careful of what types of tv programs and movies you watch. Some can be entertaining and fun, that promote good in your life or give you inspiration. Others can be draining, happiness zapping and may have an agenda you don’t agree with. You have the power to change the channel or not watch a certain film. Use that power and watch positive, entertaining, inspiring programming and movies.
Don’t put yourself in a position to attract negativity. There is a saying that like attracts like, so if you yourself are acting in a negative way, you’re more than likely to attract more negativity in your life and it just compounds itself before you can catch your breath, step back and realize it is happening. Try to be positive yourself, focusing on finding the good in others and yourself, find the silver linings in all situations and be positive to yourself. Once you become a more positive person, you will attract more positive things in your life.
Take small steps outside of your comfort zone.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
But an important thing about stepping outside of your comfort zone is that you don’t have to go all in at once in many cases. You don’t have to take one huge leap or become paralyzed in procrastination because the leap seems too big.
Instead, think about how you can move in small steps and slowly towards what you want. Just dip your toes in at first if that feels more comfortable. The most important thing is that you start moving and that you take action, not how fast or how much action you take at first.
If you for example want to start your own business then work on that in the evening while still working at your day job or staying in school. Don’t let thinking like “I have to go all in and take huge risks” hold you back.
If you want to improve your social skills and social confidence then take small steps. Steps like first just saying hi to people. And being more involved in conversations at work or in school to exercise your conversation muscles. After a while those things will feel more comfortable. And so you can expand your comfort zone a little bit more.
If you want to try something new like eating something new, talking to or calling someone new or reading something or doing something that doesn’t feel like the same old thing you always do then tell yourself that:
Just for today I will try [insert something you want to try]!
You just have to do it today. Not ever again after today. You are not signing up for some huge commitment.
Tomorrow you may continue on that new path. Or you may not.
By not making this into a huge thing you have do but instead just a small step that you can take and get done as slowly as you like it becomes so much easier to do what is most important at first: to put yourself in motion.
Then, along the way, you can take bigger leaps if you like and speed things up. You will learn through successes and failures (and realize that you won’t die if things don’t go your way all the time). You will quit some things and continue doing other things. And you will build your self-confidence muscle, step by small step.
Add smart habits to reduce the stress and inner pressure.
If you let stress and inner pressure ramp up you become weaker, you tend to overreact more often and negative viewpoints tend to pop up more frequently in your head. And your confidence in yourself and your ability to do what you want to do decreases.
By adding a few smart and simple habits that can release that inner pressure, stress and tensions on a daily and weekly basis it once again becomes easier to keep the physical and mental energy and inner strength up, to see things from an optimistic viewpoint and to keep it cool instead of making mountains out of molehills or feel like quitting after one mistake or setback.
Try adding one of these three un-stressing habits at a time and see how they work for you:
- Just breathe. When stressed, lost in a problem or the past or future in your mind breathe with your belly for two minutes and just focus on the air going in and out. This will calm your body down and bring your mind back into the present moment again.
- Set clear boundaries for your day and week. By stopping my work at 7 o clock in the evenings at the latest and shutting off my computer then, by taking roughly 15 minutes of relaxing and recharging break time for each 45 minute period that I work and by staying away from work during the weekend and all media for at least one of those weekend days I become more relaxed and productive.
- Listen to yourself. When you become more irritable, start to feel drained, tired and creativity plummets listen to that. Do not plod on straight into the brick wall. Instead, schedule more time to take care of yourself. Don’t run off with your regular routine after school or work, take the time you have for yourself and spend much of it on yourself. Just stay in bed with a book for the evening. Or go out for quiet walk in nature. Do something you know relaxes and recharges you.
See it in your mind before you do it.
Before we are about to do something like having a meeting, a date, a regular day at work or a presentation many of us see it or some part of it in our mind. It is quite common to routinely imagine and see in your mind how things could go wrong in this upcoming situation.
Now, one often recommended thing to do instead is to close your eyes and see in your mind how well things will go. How things go great and as you planned during the presentation or meeting, how confident and enthusiastic you are during it all and then to see in your mind how the meeting is finished and done in the way you desire.
This way of visualizing has worked pretty well for me.
Another way of visualizing that I sometimes use is what could be called the “it’s no big deal” visualization. When I do this I basically see in my mind how this meeting or upcoming situation will not be a huge thing that could go wrong.
Instead I see in my mind myself acting in the situation as if it is a normal thing like so many daily or weekly things in life. I see myself as relaxed and calm, the situation may even feel a little anti-climactic and it really is not different than other meetings/situations that I have had in the past.
This may not sound as inspiring as the first visualization but I find that it is sometimes more useful because it can be easier to believe in than a overly positive image of how things will go. And because it reduces nervousness, relaxes me and it allows me to stay present and be as myself in the best way. And that is often all that is needed. Because most of the time increasing your confidence for some situation is not about adding something or boosting yourself up in some way.
It is about reducing stress and nervousness to the point where you can act and think in the same relaxed and positive manner that you do with close friends and family.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
“Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life.”
Katherine F. Gerould
Why do people make life more complicated than it is? Well, one answer may be old habits that you need to let go of and replace.
Another answer is that your life isn’t really that exciting. So you add drama and complications to make it more interesting and stimulating. That’s at least what I used to do in the past.
But instead of doing that you can take the more difficult path and actually get a life.
If you find yourself sitting around too much and not having enough to do then it’s very easy to get stuck in thought loops and go into a downward spiral. Simply by filling your life with more fun activities and people you become a lot more relaxed and have little time or patience for complications or drama from yourself or others.
So spend less time analyzing life and more time living and exploring it in whatever way you’d like. By doing so you are also often confronted with having to expand your comfort zones and perhaps face a fear. This leads to better self confidence and less fretting about if you can handle things that may come up.
“Maxim for life: You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you.”
This is a very important point and something I think is perhaps often missed by people who want to improve their social lives and make it more positive. They may think “well, I have been so nice towards everyone for the last few months but it doesn’t seem to have changed their behaviour towards me much”.
This is the “nice guy/girl” problem. He or she is very nice but there is no assertiveness. There is no changed feeling within about how you feel you deserve to be treated. You may still be nice just to get approval from other people. You feel the craving need. And you then are less likely to get the approval.
We do to a large extent choose how we want to be treated. How you expect people to treat you can have a big effect on how you allow yourself to act and how people around you view and treat you. If you start creating a role for yourself where you always let people do what they want to you then you may create some pretty destructive and negative things.
- You may create an identity for yourself where you get used to always taking whatever anyone doles out. You create a kind of victim identity where you may look happy on the outside but don’t feel so good on the inside. But since you have gotten used to it after a while you may accept it and think that: this is just who I am.
- You may create a concept in the minds of the people around you that it’s OK to treat you this way. Either because you seem so positive despite what they are doing so they think it’s OK. Or just because you aren’t saying no and some people may take advantage of that.
Look, you can’t please everyone. I think both Eleanor Roosevelt and Buddha have mentioned something along the lines that whatever you do there will always be people who don’t like what you are doing. And that’s OK. That’s normal.
Going around trying to please everyone at your own expense isn’t healthy though. Or even a realistic thing to attempt. It eats away at you both mentally and physically.
So be nice. Be positive. But make sure you set your own standards, rules and limits too. And remember that you might as well do what you want because there will always be critics.
What is one thing you can do to pretty much make sure that something will get stuck on your I’ll-do-that-when-I-have-the-time list for a long time? Read about something and get excited about it. And then do nothing about it or tell yourself that you will take action tomorrow.
Instead, take one small action today, as soon after you have read about whatever you are excited about. Make a plan, book an appointment, do something concrete.
This is probably the most important factor for how much action I take during a day and how the day turns out in general. A good start often leads to a good day. A bad or indecisive start often leads to a pretty mediocre day.
So create a morning routine with a good breakfast, perhaps a short work out or a short meditation and other things you find gets you off to a great start. Then add doing the most important task of your day at the end of that morning routine.
Or if you, like me, may feel low in energy, unmotivated or have extra inner resistance to taking action on some mornings then start small and do something easy and simple.
“The one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way”
Creating the habit of asking myself better questions on a daily basis is one of the most helpful things I have done for myself.
It is a very simple thing to do and after you have done so for a month or so the question tends to often pop up automatically when you need it. And over time this little thing can have a huge positive impact.
Today I’d like share 5 of my favorite questions that I use to simplify my life and to keep it simple. And at the end of this post I’ll share what I have spent most of my time with lately.
If I was just told that I had to go away for a conference tomorrow and it would last for a whole week then what would I spend today doing?
This is a wonderful question that quickly helps you get your priorities in check.
If you feel lost at the start of your week or day or get lost in busy work then stop. Then ask yourself this question to refocus on the absolutely most important.
A very simple but a very powerful question. Whenever you feel like delving into some nitpicking or some pettiness ask yourself this question. Or use it whenever you feel an overwhelming need to be right in some discussion.
Yes, nitpicking or having to be right can give you sort of high. You feel good. But it’s a dirty high. It never lasts for long. And you just create a lot of negativity in the long run outside of yourself and within yourself as your self-esteem goes down.
Asking yourself “who cares?” is a way to lighten up, to not take every little thing so seriously. It’s a way be more open and relaxed with yourself and the people around you. It’s simply a way to be cool about stuff.
Am I right here, right now?
This is one can be very helpful.
Both because it’s very easy to slip out of the present moment and back into negative and pointless thought loops about the past/future. And because it’s very beneficial to spend pretty as much of the time in your day as possible in the now. Why? A couple of important reasons:
- Improved social skills.
- Improved creativity.
- You appreciate your world more.
- Stress release.
- Less worry-warting and overthinking.
If I find I’m not in present moment I reconnect with it by for instance:
- Belly breathing. I take belly breaths and just focus my breathing for a minute.
- Keeping the focus on the current external surroundings for minute. For example right now, I can look out of my window and see the buss traveling up the hill next to my house. I see the plants in my window that probably need some water. I hear the humming of the computer-fan and the sound of the traffic going by. I feel that the floor is a bit cold. I use my senses to take in the world around me right now and to reconnect with the present moment.
- Taking action. Taking action and doing things – especially things you love doing – tends to put you in the present moment a lot of the time. It works pretty well for me at least.
Will this matter in 5 years?
This one can really puts things into perspective. It can make just about any difficulty that you are having right now seem a bit trivial and not as important and heavy as you had imagined the last few days, weeks and months. You may discover that you had expanded a problem and made it a lot more terrifying than it actually is. And you may discover that you can actually solve it more easily than you thought while you were in a somewhat panicked state of mind.
Can I let this go?
So much of our time is often spent not here but in the past. We relive old conflicts and arguments. We replay negative situations that may have happened last week or a really long time ago.
A terrible thing about this is how it is considered such a normal thing. People just do it day after day and in many cases year after year. It is a horrible waste of energy and the time you have here.
In some cases you may have to take action to resolve an old situation and get closure. You perhaps bring up the situation with the people involved to get them to understand and for you to better understand them too. And/or maybe you apologize or forgive.
But in many cases you can just let it go. Well, just letting it go is perhaps something of an oversimplification. But a few steps that have helped me to become better at letting go are these:
- Be ready to give up the benefits of not letting go. You may not want to let go because it makes you feel superior to someone else or because it makes you feel like a victim and so you receive attention and sympathy. To let go you have give up benefits like these.
- Accept it and then let go. I like acceptance. I like it because when you accept something instead of resisting it you stop feeding more energy into your problem and making it even bigger. A bit counterintuitive. This is also useful when it comes to letting go. If you first accept what you want to let go you aren’t so emotionally attached to it and still feeding it with your focus and energy. And so it becomes less powerful and easier to just drop. As long as you resist it then it will be hard to let it go.
- Let it go if it shows up again. In my experience it’s pretty common that what you let go shows up in your thoughts again. And that’s OK. Just let it go each time it shows up. After a while it stops showing up.