'A bright attitude is the right attitude', goes a well-known adage. You know the benefits of a positive outlook. You are aware of how merely thinking negatively can ruin your prospects of success and, inversely, how a positive attitude can boost them. Remember Thomas Alva Edison, who went bankrupt numerous times before silencing his detractors? However, as it has been famously said, "Easier said than done." How do you stay positive day in and day out, in the face of failures and despair? Here are twelve techniques that can help you stay positive.
1. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
This is the most important step to becoming an eternal optimist. One such technique has been explained in detail in Robin Sharma's bestselling book, 'The Monk who sold a Ferrari'. Just observe your thoughts for a day. If possible, jot them down as they float into your head. At the end of the day, mark the thoughts that are pessimistic, even those minutely so.
Ask yourself honestly whether the negative ideas were warranted, if they helped in any way (the answer would be a definite 'No'), and think of how you could have changed their course. The next day, every time a depressing thought enters your mind, replace it at once with a stronger positive one. For example, if you find yourself thinking, "Oh, it's Monday. Another boring week at work," replace it with an enthusiastic, "I'm going to wish everyone at work today. It's going to be a great day! And I will enjoy every moment of it."
2. Look at the big picture
Whenever you feel bogged down by a devastating event, learn to look at the big picture. Everything that happens in your life, good and bad, has a role to play in your personal evolution. Experience is the biggest teacher, as corroborated by some people who say, "I learnt more from my failures than my successes."
Has someone failed you in love? Have you lost your job? The former is a chance to gain some insight into what you seek from relationships, while the latter is an opportunity for an unexpected holiday! There is no reason why you should believe that things would only get worse. Maybe that person was not the one for you. Perhaps there is a better job in store. Keep the faith!
3. Train yourself to look at the positives in people and situations
When you meet someone new, what do you focus on? If you go around with an attitude of "Why should I like this person?" or "Why should I be happy with him or her?", change yourself this very moment. Always think, "Why can't I be friends with him? Is there any reason why I should not be happy?" Appreciate the good qualities in people and learn from them. The only negatives you should be worried about are the ones in yourself.
Even reflecting on your own weaknesses should always be constructive. If you have been valiantly trying to entertain people at a party and still felt ignored, do not think, "I hardly display any sense of humour." Instead think, "How can I be funnier?" Have you been transferred? Press the Stop button mentally if you find yourself sliding towards the 'moan-mode.' Think of all the benefits that you stand to gain from the transfer—new friends, promotion, better opportunities, a chance for an adventure, and many more.
4. The knot method
The first step to eliminating any fault is to be aware of it. How can you become a positive person if you do not know the ways in which you foster negativity? Carry a piece of thread around with you and tie a knot on it every time you catch yourself slouching or making a glum face or a passing a pessimistic comment. You will begin to feel what is known as 'positive guilt'. Untie a knot every time you manage to set yourself back on track. You might find yourself taking two steps forward and three steps backward. Never mind. The day your thread is knot-free, you know you have succeeded!
5. Eliminate the phrase 'I cannot'
Ever heard the saying "Nothing is impossible"? Martin Shervington, author and NLP coach, writes in his book titled, 'Don't Think of Purple-Spotted Oranges', that language is a powerful tool that works on different levels. If you want to change your environment or your behaviour, begin by changing what you say. Hence for all practical purposes, forget that there is a phrase such as - "I cannot". Whenever you start saying it, stop at "can". Amazing though it seems, your capability has as much reach as your own opinion of yourself.
6. Tilt the balance
Mathematics equations have taught us well enough that negatives can overpower the positives. Though quite unaware of it, your Math professor simultaneously taught you a life lesson as well. Research has proven that it takes nearly ten positive comments to nullify the mental blow that one negative comment causes. The impact is particularly forceful on children. The next time you say something negative to your child, remember that it will take ten encouraging instances to get him or her smiling again. Limit your negative feedback to the absolutely necessary and make a habit of complimenting people.