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10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

You just got dumped. Your company is going through a merge and it looks like you will be lose your job. Your mortgage payment is due tomorrow but you don’t have the money. You just got diagnosed with diabetes, or cancer, or heart disease. Sometimes when life gets tough, it’s hard to feel optimistic. Being positive is like flexing a muscle; the more you work it out the easier it gets. Here are a few quick hacks that can actually change the way your brain deals with negative situations.

1. Step Back And Assess Your Situation

Put distance between you and  positivity zappers like fear and anger. Try to look at your situation without emotion attached. In order to stay positive you need clarity. Just like sitting in the front row at the movies can make it hard to see the whole screen, when you are too close to the situation it can be a challenge to see it clearly. Describe your sitaution devoid of emotion in the simplest terms. For example, if you have lost your job you can get caught up in the emotion of feeling wronged or inadeqaute. Your worry can take over and lead you to imagine the worse case scenario like losing your home and your family. Before you let this downward spiral begin make a simple assessment. “I have lost my job. I need a plan to find a new job.”

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2. Remember Everything Can Be a Miraculous Opportunity

Everything can be an opportunity. When I speak to people who have cancer, it is amazing the number of stories where people, in hindsight, are grateful for their illness and even their losses. We do the most personal growth and change when we have had to dig deep. Recognizing this can release some of that fight-or-flight reaction. Remind yourself that people overcome negative things to be better versions of themselves. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, recognize that although you wouldn’t invite or celebrate what you are dealing with, you can accept it and move on.

3. Move Your Body, It Calms Your Mind

Exercise releases chemicals that calm and heal. It also provides a momentary escape from your thoughts. When you choose an activity like Zumba or tennis that requires focus and concentration, you give yourself a little time-out from thinking about your situation. When you finish whatever exercise you have chosen, your body will have released some calming chemicals and your mind will be refreshed. This can feel like coming at your problem from a new perspective.

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4. Wait and Breathe

When our body starts its fight-or-flight reaction the natural chemicals that are released impede our ability to make good decisions. Taking time to breathe deeply or to meditate couteracts the stress process that your body has started and enables you to use better judgement on how to proceed. This is one time when less is not more. Take as much time as you need to calm yourself before your begin planning or decision making.

5. Be Self-Compassionate

In a class I was recently teaching, I asked the participants to rate their compassion on a scale of one to ten. Most participants rated themselves as a seven or eight. But when I asked them to rate their self-compassion, many dipped down to a two or three. We truly can be our own harshest critic and worst enemy. Practice treating yourself the way you would a small child. Speak kindly to yourself. I like to imagine that everything I think about myself is immediately printed on my forehead. If I don’t want others to think I am forgetful, incompetent, or not enough then I cannot have these thoughts myself.

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6. Get Outside

David Suzuki recently studied the effects of spending 30 minutes outside everyday. Not surprisingly people were happier and less stressed out after they had spent time in nature. You don’t have to hike the Appalachians, just get on the roof and star gaze or feed the ducks in the park. The body relaxes and then releases chemicals that help lower blood pressure, heighten immunity and support emotional resilience.

7. Make a Plan

When the feeling of being overwhelmed hits, mapping out what your next steps are can be really useful. You cannot always solve the whole problem, but breaking what you need to do into manageable bites can stop the fight or flight reaction and allow you to take charge of your emotions.

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8. Create an Affirmation

An affirmation is a positive phrase that moves you towards what you want by behaving as though you already have it. Simple affirmations that you repeat to yourself in your head may be:

  • Right now, I am okay.
  • I am resilient
  • Things are getting better
  • I am stable during life’s ups and downs.

Or you can create a more specific and advanced one like:

  • I attract abundance and love
  • My awareness is anchored in tranquility.
  • I easily find a new job that I love.
  • I fully accept myself and know that I am worthy of great things in life.

9. Move Towards What You Want

Part of moving towards what you want is knowing what that is. For example if you are ending a relationship instead of thinking “I don’t want to be with someone who treats me badly” you might think “I deserve a partner who treats me with kindness and love”. The difference might seem subtle but moving toward something is always more concrete than escaping something. The universe loves specificity!

10. Find Moments of Gratitude

There is always something to be thankful for. Even life seems to be kicking you when you are down, there is always something to be thankful for. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism and I was feeling very sorry for myself, I met a mom who had a daughter the same age who had autism and leukemia. My child was not dealing with fighting for her life alongside her new diagnosis. Comparison isn’t always the thief of joy. Sometimes it can remind us of the good things we have. As you practice gratitude for these things, your brain strengthens its ability to find things to be grateful for and soon you will be seeing good all around you. A great way to get started is with a  joy journal where you make a daily list of 3 things you are thankful for. As you make a practice of acknowledging the good things in your life, you become more positive.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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