Sometimes in our culture, positivity gets a bad rap. Somewhere along the way we started equating positivity with naiveté, as if the only way to be perceived as intelligent, experienced, or successful, is to be a cynical or pessimistic person.
Here’s the thing though: That type of thinking is complete nonsense!
In fact, success and happiness are not mutually exclusive. What if I told you that positivity could be the wellspring from which all of your strength lies. That despite modern perceptions of positivity, it is actually far more likely you’ll get ahead if you cultivate optimistic habits in your life.
So you can either let someone else tell you the type of story you need to write for yourself--from a place of cynicism and negativity--or you can draw from the words of author Ryan Holiday when he says:
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”
In this way, we can choose frame our decisions, outlook, and overall disposition from a place of positivity. It is wholeheartedly our choice!
Now, it is a fact that human beings have learned to looked at the world through negativity biases for millenia now. And this tendency towards negativity has a lot to do with the anatomy of our brains--which will process a negative input much quicker than a positive one due to the part of the brain called the amygdala (that famous fight-or-flight area).
But if we know that we’re hard-wired to be negative, we can fight against it.
The more we know this fact about ourselves and pay attention to our tendency towards negativity, the more we can stop and deliberately work to turn our thoughts positive.
As is suggested by the best-selling book The Secret, there’s a lot of good that can come from actively focusing your thoughts on a positive outcome, instead of dwelling on the negatives that occur.
“There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstances of your life can change!” - Rhonda Byrne (The Secret)
Instead of letting the negatives take over your brain and override your decision-making process, confidence, and ambitions, you can drastically improve the quality of your life by balancing the negatives with the far more powerful positives!
If we let our natural tendency towards negativity take over our brains, we run the risk of never really striving for greater things.
Embarrassment is a negative emotion; failure has very negative connotations that can prevent us from even trying in the first place; fear is a very negative sensation. The list goes on!
When considering how negativity prevents us from knowing our full potential, there’s an apt quote to remember:
“Someone once told me the definition of hell; on your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.”
Because we are often chronically self-critical and many of us suffer from impostor syndrome, we all run the risk of continually meeting the person we could have become in life. We need to prevent this from happening by actively cultivating positivity in our professional and personal lives.
Here are a few simple tips for doing so.
To truly practice positivity in your life, there are many things you can do. Some of the most crucial are the following:
1. Frame negative emotions like fear, failure, embarrassment, and stress, in a positive way. This means that if we are afraid about a particular life decision, it’s more than likely just our brain activating its self-defense system. That’s all. Remember that if you are nervous, it just means that you care. So, if you can learn to welcome uncomfortable feelings as a necessary step towards succeeding, than you will ultimately be a much more positive person.
2. Acknowledge and recognize others. There’s nothing like a little gratitude and praise to help your team members, friends, or spouse, feel a positive emotion. And through this habit you can start to experience life in a much more positive light because. Focus on the positives and you’ll become positive.
3. Remember the words of Napoleon Hill: “Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Your failures do not define you but are actually blessings in disguise.
4. Don’t let others bring you down. By standing on guard and choosing to be positive, even when everyone surrounding you is not, you are actively expressing a desire for positivity. Often times you can lead by example, and those around you will look to you for leadership and guidance.
With all of this said, you don’t have to embrace negativity to be a successful person. You don’t have to substitute being nice with working hard. And you can have a positive outlook on life and be wildly more successful than those who don’t care for others’ wellbeing.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
The Reality of Impostor Syndrome: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-women/201809/the-reality-imposter-syndrome