It is widely acclaimed that we should try to “stay positive all the time.” However, in real life, it is easier said than done.

When you try to stay positive, you have to overcome your negative thoughts of anger, jealousy, and sadness to feel happy and content.

Additionally, positive thinking promotes an all-or-nothing thinking pattern, a cognitive error where thinking is in extremes; you either have a positive or a negative mindset. It does not allow for any shades of gray, so if things do not go as planned, you are not prepared to face failure.

Similarly, we all read posts on social media which list tons of ideas promoting positivity. Just browsing through even one post overwhelms me, as there are too many ideas compacted into one single post. I always wonder how someone who is depressed will interpret such messages, as feeling overwhelmed is one of the symptoms of depression.

Another concern is for those individuals who always try to do their best and are unwilling to settle for second best. So, facing failure and being able to bounce back can be difficult for them.

Nevertheless, there are ways you can plan to maintain a positive outlook on life in adverse circumstances.

The first step is to rate your feelings of “feeling positive” on a scale of 1 to 10, where “1” is low and “10” is high.

It means that you can plan for feeling low moments to have a quick recovery. Therefore, instead of giving in to your depression and lying in bed, you will make efforts to do an activity, bake a favourite recipe, or go for a walk, thereby motivating yourself to become more active.

By permitting yourself to control “how much” of the positive feeling you need to reach your goals, you protect yourself from feeling worse. Here, the pressure of staying positive leads to feelings of not being good enough and fear of rejection from your loved ones. You feel anxious when you see your friends, and you soon find yourself avoiding your friends; for example, you will walk in the opposite direction when you see your friend walking towards you.

In your zeal for staying positive, you lose sleep while brooding over a problem. You toss and turn, only falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning. Sleep disturbances are one of the first signs of anxiety.

Another way of staying positive is to limit your negative thoughts: you can start by focusing on your breathing. Notice your thoughts when you are inhaling “fresh” air and exhaling “warm” air. After each exhale, pull in your perineum, stomach and lower your chin. Next, release the muscles of the perineum area, followed by the abdominal region and lastly, lift your chin. Breathe out. Repeat.

Staying positive is being aware of your thoughts. You accept yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. For example, you want to lose weight but cannot forsake your love for not-so-healthy food. In this case, knowing your portion control when eating junk food helps you not to regain the lost weight,

In conclusion, being an observer of your thoughts enables you to have control over your emotions. You can remain optimistic and find a ray of hope even in the worst moments: my definition of positivity.

This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.
The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for consultations with a qualified professional.