Whether at work, the store, or pub, you are sure to hear a lot of negativity. As humans we are deficit focused. We are primed in every situation to identify the problem.
If we know what the problem is, we can develop a defense. However, it is this exact kind of thinking that puts us in a negative spiral losing any positive thoughts and perspective.
We marginalize our happiness because of this negative focus.
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Changes at work are met with resistance. At the store, the person using a coupon is holding everyone up.
The person next you at the pub seems to decry about their life, family, or regrets. And while these all may be one instance of negativity, it frequently becomes habit.
After a while we find it difficult- if not impossible, to find the good in anything.
I’ve personally been to the extreme of negativity. I’m sure anyone who knew me during that time would attest to my habitual pessimism.
As I became more and more negative, my mental health deteriorated. Something had to change!
Following essentially a nervous breakdown, my outlook completely shifted.
I became unaffected by nearly anything. If you’ve seen the movie Office Space, my lack of regard was nearly to Peter’s level.
These experiences led me to what I believe now to be a good balance. In fact, I found 5 ways to energize positive thoughts and perspective.
Sure there are many strategies out there; I have fully vetted these through both research and experience.
My happiness is evidence of their success! What more?
Not only have they improved my positive thoughts and perspective, they have helped me embrace a positive lifestyle mending relationships in its wake.
Following these lifestyle improvements, your anxiety and depression will also begin to disappear. It is imperative that you too find a way to maintain a positive lifestyle.
Any beginning social worker will likely become burned out very quickly without healthy maintenance.
So, let’s find how to be positive and instill happiness!
1. Creating expectations and appreciation are critical
Frankly, if you don’t have a positive outlook, you have to create it.
Often our negative thoughts can come from disappointment. We expect something and don’t receive it. Naturally, when let down, we experience disappointment, which often turns to anger.
When we experience anger, it is often a veil to mask a more vulnerable emotion. With anger, there is negativity and passive aggressiveness.
The simplest and most effective way to create positive thoughts and perspective are through journaling. This does not have to be a stream of consciousness onto a page- though that can sometimes be helpful.
There are two strategies that are incredibly helpful in energizing positive thoughts and perspective through journaling.
One strategy is to write down your expectations when you first wake up and your appreciations before bed.
As you get out of bed in the morning, answer the question: what do you want to happen today?
Keep this simple and realistic!
Do you have plans to go to the grocery store? Your expectation could be to have an enjoyable trip.
When you go to the grocery store, you will be more mindful of your attitude.
And because you want to have an enjoyable time, you are more likely to perceive the trip that way!
If creating your own journal outlines seem a bit daunting, and I can’t blame you, try The Anxiety Pocket eWorkbook.
My colleague, Heather Leguilloux has developed a fantastic workbook to implement practical and easy to use strategies to work through every day experiences of anxiety and worry to improve your quality of life.
It is absolutely worth a look! This methodology establishes an easy expectation and improves the likelihood that it will come true.
As a result, your thought patterns will begin to change to a positive outlook. Before you go to bed for the night, write down what you appreciated during the day. You can be appreciative of anything!
Think of your family, someone that was kind to you, or anything else that stands out to you.
This strategy again shifts your negative thoughts to focus on creating positive thoughts and perspective.
These are positive affirmations for health that you are teaching yourself!
Over time, you will see that you are noticing your emotions sooner. Your anger and negative thinking will dissipate.
2. Be objective and in the moment if you don’t have positive thoughts
This strategy may be a bit more difficult to implement. If you have been journaling, however, it won’t be much of a leap.
As you continue journaling to energize those positive thoughts and perspective, be mindful if there is a shift in your attitude. As soon as you notice that you’re being judgmental, it is important to stop immediately.
Instead, consider the situation with a clean slate. Evaluate characteristics of it but do not attribute pejorative labels.
Let’s use the example of someone using coupons when in the grocery store line (I promise I’ve not been the angry guy in line!).
We’ve all been to the grocery store and begin to feel impatient, because someone is holding up the line with coupons.
They want their buy one- get one free. As a result, we begin to feel tense and frustrated.
Our thoughts are then directed toward negativity. We think to ourselves “I will buy the flippin’ item for you!” “Does this person not see how many people are behind them?” “Shouldn’t they have gone to a different lane if they were going to do that?”
All the while, we look at the people next to us as if to confirm they are also in agreement with our impatience.
Actually, if they are looking at you, they probably think you’re being a jerk.
So instead of letting ourselves spiral from our positive outlook, we must be mindful of any change to it.
Rather than being negative, think to yourself “that person likes a deal.” “Frugality is a rare trait these days.” “I have time to recheck my list and be sure I’ve got everything.”
Evaluating a situation objectively and from a neutral perspective will stop those negative thoughts from spiraling out of control.
It is difficult to do but is very effective!
For those not familiar, this technique is actually part of mindfulness. It is part of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy- an evidenced based practice proven to help regulate emotions.
3. Genuinely caring for another is a great way to spark positive feelings
During my rough patch, my thoughts were conceited. I was miserable and wondered why no one seemed to care. This led to more negative thinking.
In actuality- many people cared. But you can only help someone so much.
They also have to be willing. Surprisingly enough, I fell into the social work field around this time.
What a life changer!
At the time, I worked with adults with developmental disabilities. The more I worked with these amazing folks, the more my perspective shifted to being positive.
This start into social work was itself a positive affirmation for health. Without it, the negativity I had would have shifted my life in a very different direction.
I genuinely cared for the people I worked with, and it had a lasting effect on my attitude. It was no longer about me.
It was about supporting these incredible people in overcoming barriers they have.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you quit your job and look for something similar. There are a variety of ways that you can genuinely care for another person.
It can be your wife, child, niece, aunt, or neighbor. You can volunteer if you really had to!
In reality, you don’t have to make this a chore. How often do you come in contact with a family member or another in need?
My guess is fairly frequently. When you do- find an act of kindness you can do for them!
In the event you don’t have family, where this would work, consider friends or neighbors!
There is an incredible amount of evidence and research that shows helping someone else can improve your own mood.
This can be more powerful than antidepressants!
How great is it that you can start positive living and help others do the same?
Daily acts of kindness will build your sense of positivity. Life is no longer a series of frustrations.
These acts of kindness will consume you and build stronger relationships.
4. There must be a shift to see solutions and not problems
As I stated earlier, we are all primed to see problems. This likely won’t change. However, what you can change is your reaction to a problem.
That means evaluate the issue and identify how it can be overcome.
I witness this all the time as a supervisor. There are some employees that are problem focused.
They usually hate their jobs and will find any reason to maintain their negative attitude.
In contrast, there are those employees who are solution focused.
Not only is this refreshing to everyone else- including your supervisor, it also has a huge effect on your attitude and outlook.
We are all human and have moments of feeling negative about a change or situation. We cannot let this overtake our positive attitude. When we can shift our mindset to identify solutions to a problem, the schemas that filter our world will also follow suit!
In fact, that is the very premise of one of my favorite books Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking.
This book helps you totally rework your thought process to become more productive, focused, happy, and peace minded.
Do you want to amplify energized positive thoughts and perspective? Be there for other people.
Everyone has a problem in some way, shape, or form. Helping others can be small acts of kindness.
The Golden Rule prevails. Treat others how you want to be treated. What we put into our environment and society will come around to us.
So be the solution for others, and you will see the reciprocation.
5. Seek personal fulfillment to maintain your positive living
By this point, if you have been journaling, being objective and in the moment, and solution focused, you likely have noticed more positive thoughts and perspective.
So how do we maintain it?
A great place to start is finding a self-fulfilling hobby. The best types of hobbies will keep you active.
When we increase our activity level our brain releases endorphins- the feel good neurotransmitters.
So try jogging, basketball, cycling, or weight lifting. If your breathing and heartbeat increase, your brain will produce endorphins. The sky is the limit with this!
Even if you have a more sedentary hobby, that’s fine. The point is to keep your mind focused on the positive experiences that you’re having.
These positive experiences will create the lens of which you view the world.
Hobbies also have a tendency to lead us into friendships, which enhance our quality of life. And from a top down perspective, it is this quality of life that we are seeking.
Our thoughts can become so warped and manipulated that we are miserable in our own minds. Hobbies, friendships, and self-fulfillment are so critical to retain our positive perspective on life.
Humans are social and productive beings and need to feel connected to others and our work.
When we can synthesize the two, our fulfillment and outlook all improve for the better.
Moving forward with your new and energized positive perspective
All five of these strategies aim to recreate optimism. We all will experience difficult moments.
We will become upset and view our world negatively. That is still OK! When we become upset, we have to put a limit on it.
We must re-calibrate our thoughts to assure that we do not spiral downward. When you’re upset, give yourself a deadline.
Use your positive affirmations for health maintenance.
These strategies are very successful if effort is put into them.
If you’re finding that your negativity continues to seep into your life and relationships- seek professional help.
I hope that you can embrace these strategies. They are not a fix all and take work. Where I had to have a near mental breakdown and scorn relationships due to my poor outlook, I hope you will succeed.
These strategies have a tremendous amount of power behind them. Embrace them as you enter the social work field.
They could quite literally save your life.
Help yourself. Help others. Continue to believe in yourself and be optimistic for change and positivity! Your loved ones will be incredibly fortunate to see such an investment.
What are your thoughts and experiences with creating positive thoughts and perspective? We would love to hear from you. If you enjoyed this post and find it meaningful, please like, share, and pin- we appreciate your support!