Positivity is so important. It means less medical problems, a longer life and – most obviously but still most importantly – that you are happier. The thing is, how do you actually become more positive? That’s the 10,000 dollar question, isn’t it?
So that’s what we’re going to look into today. Five unusual ways for you to stay positive and keep the misery at bay.
1. Work on your mental resilience
The opposite of depression, according to Peter Kramer, isn’t happiness. It’s mental fortitude. So if you want to be able to stay positive, make sure that’s what you work on. How do you do that?
- Sleep enough. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the happiest things that we can do. What’s more, when we get enough sleep we make certain that we’re far less likely to ruminate and will be far quicker to switch away from negative thought.
- Eat well. Stay away from processed foods, sugars, and alcohol. Instead, aim at eating plenty of the omage-3, protein, as well as whole grains, beans, potatoes, vegetables and other minerals. Stock up on vitamins in the B C, D, and E range.
- Exercice. I don’t really need to tell you that, do I?
- Practice mindfulness. Really. Do. Mindfulness makes you better able to step away from negative emotions. So make sure you spend more time being aware of who you are and that you are not your thoughts and emotions.
Did you know that giving makes the giver happier than the receiver? That’s right. So, become more generous with your time and your money and you’ll find your life becoming most positive – both because you are giving and because you are sure to feel valued.
Start with what I call ‘random acts of kindness ’. Help somebody in the grocery line. Give a big bill to a particularly good street musician (the arts need to get sponsored after all), help out at a school, a charity or a church. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it. Make both yourself and the world more positive.
3. Realize positivity is internal
We often get so obsessed with the world outside of our heads that we forget that happiness and positivity are only a matter of how we perceive the world. So make more time to work on that perception.
That means, taking ‘you’ time where you shut out the outside world through such practices as yoga or meditation or gratitude writing. So do not worry if you cannot – it is what you get from it, not what you put on paper and focus on your mental landscape.
It also means learning that how the outside world affects your inner harmony is largely a matter of perception.
For example, if during a bank robbery you get shot in the shoulder you could see that as an example of bad luck (you got shot) or of good luck (you didn’t get killed). The former will make the experience negative. The latter will make it positive. Which one you choose to accept as your perception of the events as they transpired will decide how you view that event.
4. Focus on experiences rather than things
Money on time spent on experience have more bang for their buck than the same money spent on things. So, don’t buy a new couch when you’ve got one that’s perfectly alright. Instead, go on a holiday with the family.
Sure, you might think that the holiday will mean the money is gone and the couch will stick around for a very long time indeed, but is that actually accurate? After all, a lot of our lives are lived through our memories and a good memory can be incredibly valuable, both in terms of how you see the world as well as your relationships with – for example – your family.
The good will and good memories that you create during experiences can last a long time, far beyond when you’ve gotten used to the new couch and no longer really pay attention to it.
5. Realize the difference between status and happiness
A lot of the time when we think we’re pursuing happiness – like when we try to get a better job, get that new car, or buy a bigger house – we’re actually pursuing status. Now, don’t misunderstand, status has its uses. People with high status can get a lot of things done and can get people to do a lot of things for them.
Still, they are not the same thing and it is important that you realize when you’re pursuing one or the other. How do you know? It’s quite easy. When the underlying motivation is to impress others and the main route to happiness is other people’s appraisal of you, then you’re pursuing status.
If on the other hand, it’s just about how you feel about yourself, then it’s a matter of happiness.
Being able to differentiate between these two will mean that you can choose when you’re going to pursue your own positivity and when you’re just trying to get a leg up on the people around you.
Why is this important? Because status is a zero sum game. That means that when you gain status, the people around you have to drop in the regard of others. And that makes sense, after all, we’re all competing for the same mental real estate.
Happiness, on the other hand, is not zero sum. When I’m happier, you don’t need to be less happy. We can both be happier together. So, in the long run focusing on making ourselves and those people around us happier rather than higher status will create far more positivity. And that has to be what it’s all about, doesn’t it?
Positivity is a state of mind. Sure, that might sound banal, but that doesn’t make it less true. For that reason, the best place to seek positivity is within yourself, rather than in the world around you. That doesn’t mean the world around you doesn’t matter, but it matters far less than you might realize.
That’s why some monks – who live a life of abstinence and self-denial – are far more positive than the average person in society will ever be. They’ve realized that it’s all about having the right outlook in life and rather than focusing on having more, they focus on feeling more.
If you can embrace that, then nobody will ever be able to take the positivity and happiness away from you again.
Dante Munnis is a content manager and contributor on the Essay Republic, who is interested in self-development, web related topics, and success issues.
He shares ideas for students living a better life and building habits that stick.
You can get in touch with Dan via Twitter.