Why should I stay positive and inspire others?
Staying positive doesn’t have to entail lying to yourself or downplaying challenges and tragedy, but it’s the surest way to make the most of every second you’re conscious.
Someday, we’ll all be dead. This is a sobering thought to people who haven’t achieved everything they’ve dreamed of in their lives. It’s a jarring reminder that our time on Earth is fleeting and that we’re always in an unwinnable battle with the clock. Why not take each moment you’re breathing and awake and seize it like it may be your last?
Worrying, doubting, running away from things, and detecting danger are evolutionary traits of the human species. It’s how we keep from burning, maiming, or killing ourselves and it is an important part of our survival. It can also present problems of its own, however. Focusing too heavily on the things you’re worried about and viewing life in such a negative light can decimate your mood or cause you to become unstable, overly emotional, angry, and even affect your physical well being.
Some Context About Fighting Negative Thoughts
Growing up fat and clinically depressed, I’ve had my fair share of emotionally turbulent moments. I’ve spoken at length about my dance with suicide, I’ve struggled to find self-confidence, and I’ve relied heavily on escapism as a means of dealing with a life that wasn’t handing me what I thought I was looking for on a silver platter. It wasn’t until I took control of my own thought loops and worked through some longstanding issues that I was able to face my inner challenges head on while maintaining a generally favorable worldview.
These days, it’s as if I’ve turned over a new leaf. While my sarcastic cynicism and dark sense of humor haven’t gone away, they’ve been overwhelmingly replaced with a genuine sense of positivity. Instead of shying away from the world, I choose to be social. Instead of keeping my feelings tucked away inside and lying constantly, I’ve found the confidence to be honest and have dialogue. I’m willing to say sorry. I can admit when I’m wrong and move on. I can face job interviews and challenges at work. I can make mistakes and learn to live with them. Now, people often comment about my upbeat personality and how I’m always pushing them to do more and feel better about themselves. It all goes back to the idea of fostering internal optimism and letting those feelings emanate outward.
Focus on the Positive
One of the best exercises you can do to help yourself find what makes you happy is to envision a positive future for yourself. Imagine a world where your wildest dreams and goals have become a reality. Take a moment to sit down and write about this perfect life you’ve envisioned for yourself. Set aside at least a half hour to detail every aspect of this wonderfully fulfilling version of your life. Focus on the feelings it drums up within you. Stay mindful about the life you want to live. Take steps to achieve that life.
This simple exercise can also lead to many other, equally self-affirming exercises that will help you stay on track. Once you’ve written a complete synopsis of your ideal life, write a list of steps you can take today to set yourself down the path to living that life. How will you achieve your dream career? How will you afford all of the possessions that will make you happy? What steps do you need to take to move to the locale that you’re most excited about? How will you surround yourself with the type of people you crave to be around? These questions will bring focus to your otherwise mundane life that is too frequently clouded with negative thoughts, insecurities, and doubts.
Savor Your Life and Be Grateful
Don’t walk past a beautiful sunset without drinking it in. There are so many microscopic moments in your day that make you twitch into a smile and you’re probably not taking the time to remember them. When you laugh fully, smile at the kindness of a stranger or peer, offer assistance that is appreciated, eat a good meal, or hear a song that you love, take mental note of it. Hell, take a physical note of it. Carry around a pad and paper and write down every time you’re filled with a sense of joy. You’ll be amazed and encouraged by how many bullet points you add to the list every day.
Anything good that has happened to you in the course of a day that warrants retelling, be sure to tell someone. Don’t brag about or rub in your good fortune, but tell people how excited you are about all the little things that made you happy today. Encourage them to tell you about all the good things that happened in their day. A little bit of kindness and an open ear go a long way in improving everyone’s moods.
Savor every moment. Take the time to fully taste and enjoy your lunch, sip your beer slowly, kiss your loved one passionately instead of with a rushed peck. There’s so much goodness to absorb.
Avoid the Negative
If your end goal is to maintain a sense of optimism, the first step is to cut all the darkness and negativity out of your life. Over time, you’ll learn to block out worrisome thoughts and motivate yourself to feel better.
This also includes cutting harmful people out of your life. Look at the folks with whom you choose to spend most of your time. After being near them, do you feel energized or do you feel drained? Do you feel empowered or are you constantly obsessing over whether they like you or not? Do they ever say encouraging words to you or do they only complain or talk about themselves? These questions are all worthy litmus tests aimed at determining who is worth your time and who isn’t.
Internally, try your best to avoid dwelling on dark thoughts. It’s not only unpleasant, but it also makes you unpleasant to be around. Success comes from tackling these kind of thoughts and refusing to let them take center stage in your brain.
When you have a negative thought about yourself, examine whether or not this thought is really true. Mull over your life experiences and be honest with yourself about your own worth. Will one bad test grade really ruin the rest of your life? No. Move on and study harder next time.
Give yourself credit for your past achievements. Maybe your most recent endeavor didn’t go the way you had planned, but you have a long list of accomplishments that will make up for it and you will have many more.
Remember that each mistake is an isolated incident. Just because you let someone down or said something stupid one time doesn’t mean that these acts define you. There’s always tomorrow to turn things around and mend bonds you may have temporarily severed.
Don’t always jump to the most horrible conclusion. Just because the girl or guy you like hasn’t responded to your text in 3 hours doesn’t mean that they’re not interested. They could be at a movie or not have access to their phone. Let situations play themselves out before assuming the worst.
5 Additional Methods for Living Positively
- Connect with others. Staying social can have a profound effect on your mental health.
- Stay active. Exercise releases endorphins, raises moods, raises confidence, and manifests discipline.
- Help others. The best way to feel good about yourself is to inspire goodness in others. There are always people in need and your kindness will not go unappreciated.
- Eat well. The kind of calories you consume every day can affect the way your body functions, cycles energy, or looks. Keep your diet clean and your head will stay clear.
- Get professional help. If you’re not managing your stress, anger, or depression on your own, it’s time to talk to someone. There are millions of psychological professionals around the world who dedicate their lives to understanding people and helping them through their most insurmountable of instabilities. Give one a call.
In the end, sentient life is a rare gift and our short time existing is better spent happy than sad.