It’s the end of February. Christmas is but a distant memory, Valentine’s Day came and went with varying degrees of success and next there’s the Easter break to look forward to at the end of April.
We can pinpoint specific moments in time that make us happy in our lives but with our news feeds full to bursting with stories of doom and gloom that most of us can do nothing about, there is at least one person we can make happy – ourselves.
We’re talking this week about proactivity and motivation. How do you hold it together when all around you are losing theirs?
Listen To Bobby McFerrin
He told us to ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ but is that easier said than done?
First off, it’s worth saying that every one of us faces daily obstacles, challenges and problems. Some more acute than others but the fact remains sound. Focusing on things we can’t control only sinks us deeper into a funk of despair so it’s time to take a more self-centred look at our own lives and figure out ways we can be more proactive, more motivated, happier.
At work and in life, the most successful people are proactive. They control the events in their lives by causing them to happen, by taking the initiative and responsibility and preparing for events rather than waiting for things to happen and then reacting, hoping the answer will somehow drop in their laps. By then, it’s often too late. Someone else has got the job, done the work or got the girl.
‘Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognise that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.’
Steven Covey, bestselling author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People
What’s The Point of Proactivity & Positivity?
Eh? Is that a serious question?
It is, but you’ll be surprised at how many people focus on why they shouldn’t do something rather than why they should. What is it about us that we are so willing to stay dissatisfied with our lives?
If you even have to question whether your glass is half-full or half-empty, read on.
First off, it’s worth noting that positive thinking doesn’t mean only focusing on the good stuff and burying your head in the sand where the crap stuff is concerned. It means that you approach the crap stuff in a more positive and proactive way, working towards the best-case scenario rather than the worst-case scenario.
Believe it or not, there are even health benefits to thinking positively and proactively.
It’s a slow-burn on the research front but studies do suggest that the benefits include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression and distress
- Greater resistances to colds and fevers
- Improved psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health
- Improved coping mechanisms during times of acute stress
The thing is, researchers can’t seem to agree on why people who think positively experience these health benefits, they just do.
One theory is that (generally speaking) proactive, positive thinkers live a healthier lifestyle, follow a healthier diet, don’t smoke, drink moderately and sleep longer.
Fine, But How Do I Think Positively?
It’s a deceptively simple process but it may take some time to literally and metaphorically get your head around. You’re developing a new habit (a good one this time…) and with all these things, it won’t happen overnight.
Look At Areas To Change
To increase your optimism and positivity, identify areas of your life where your default position is negative – work, money, commuting, relationships etc. Start with one area to approach in a more positive way and then move on to the others. Don’t try all at once because you’ll get overwhelmed. Slowly slowly catchy monkey…
Be Like Ferris Bueller
He said that ‘life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it’, and that’s sound advice. Every now and again, stop and take stock of your thoughts. If you find they’re mostly negative, look at ways in which you can put a positive spin on them.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
The old adage says ’if you don’t laugh, you cry’ and it’s purposely vague but broadly true. Look for the laughs in everyday situations and when you laugh, you feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
Healthy Is Better
That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a few drinks or a night on the sofa with thirty quid’s worth of Chinese and a family bag of M&Ms but there’s a gazillion books and articles telling us that exercise, heathy eating and getting enough sleep positively affects our mood and lightens the load where stress is concerned.
Surround Yourself With Poz Peeps
We all need a strong support network of people we can depend on to drive us forward, whether that’s at work or at home. Negative Normans make you doubt yourself.
Talk To Yourself
Yes, really. Well, sort of. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else. If a negative thought happens, evaluate it. Is it as bad as you first thought? Probably not. Respond with positive affirmations and think about the good stuff in your life.
Try this lot:
I’ve never done it before = It’s an opportunity to learn something new
It’s too hard = I’ll try from another angle
I’m too lazy to do it = I’ll find a way to work it into my schedule
It’s never going to work = I’ll try and make it work
The change is too radical = I’m going out of my comfort zone to take a chance
No-one talks to me = I’m going to talk to them
I’m not getting any better at this = I’m going to try again
Like we said, it’s not going to happen overnight. A thirty-stone bloke who eats a salad isn’t going to lose sixteen stone by the end of the week but he will start to lose weight and if he keeps it up, he’ll reach his goal.
Persevere. The negative you will turn into a positive you and you will become less critical, less abrupt, more accepting and more self-aware.
There’s no downside.
Catch you soon.
The Liquid Team