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How to Think Positive Every Day

How to Think Positive Every Day

Many of us may have heard of the importance of positivity but few can really tell why it’s important.

Barbara Fredrickson, a university professor in Psychology, discovered how negative emotions affect our minds.

In the experiment, participants were asked to tally some objects they listed. Results showed that participants with negative emotions named remarkably fewer than those with positive or neutral emotions. [1]

The conclusion is, negative emotions do narrow our mind, forcing us to pick from limited options. This phenomenon is especially observable when we are in life-threatening situation, where we have to take immediate action.

When we are trapped with a reduced number of choices as a result of emotions coming into play, we make wrong regretful decisions.

So it’s really important to think positive.But… how?

Thousands of articles online teach us how to think positive in the most clichéd ways possible. You should cheer up, crack a smile, look on the bright side of life…blah…blah..blah…

Don’t worry! The tips you are going to see below are nothing like those. We aim to offer some practical and specific tips for you to start making REAL changes.

Start with your posture: sit up straight! It’s more than etiquette

While one may think cultivation of positivity always requires conscious effort, indeed it doesn’t.

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Sitting up straight may appear irrelevant to positivity. But a study reveals the association between posture and positive thoughts.

The result shows that people are more likely to generate positive thoughts and recall positive memories when they are sitting up straight.[2]

So, sit up straight right now! Sometimes tiny things in life all contribute to our well-being without us noticing.

Have a teaspoon in your pocket

What else can a teaspoon do other than stirring our refreshing cup of coffee? Well, a Quora user, William Peynsaert, thinks of a brilliant idea to use a teaspoon for our evasion from negativity. [3]

All we need is a teaspoon. Nothing more.

Well, technically, we also need a pair of pants with pockets. In case we are not wearing any.

What we do is to put the teaspoon into either one side of the pocket. Whenever we feel like formulating a negative thought, put the teaspoon into another pocket. Just that simple.

The principle behind is that the action occupies our brains so we don’t have spare resources to bring up any negative thoughts. Usually we are quite impulsive to have negative thoughts and by the time we finished transferring the teaspoon, the urge is long gone and SNAP! We successfully stop a negative thought.

At first we may find ourselves doing it over and over again. But eventually, we will do this less and less.

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After all, we can choose whatever utensils or stationery or anything that fit us. It’s just a medium.

It may sound silly but it does work.

Instead of news, read something uplifting in the morning

It is common to watch morning news reports. For the sake of keeping abreast of the latest news. This is definitely good not to block ourselves off the outside world. But, what news is mostly about?

Car crash. Terrorist attack. Natural disaster. All sorts of disheartening incidents.

I am not suggesting us not read any news but a trade off. Devote part of your morning on something more uplifting.

Start our daily confidence programming habit. Instead of news update, begin our day by reading a chapter of an empowering book. We can also go for our favorite spiritually boosting and inspirational materials.

Here are some suggestions for books if you are struggling to begin with:

These are some popular good books for you. Of course you can look for your perfect ones.

List 3 things you’re grateful for every day

It is simple and easy to do. Try to list at least 3 things we are grateful for every day. In the end, we won’t realize how much it helps us.

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Researches [4] reveal a multitude of benefits in expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Being grateful is associated with our well-being. It can also improve relationships and help with emotional maturity. Gratitude can simply promote happiness.

It’s true that we can always find dissatisfaction in life. Same to satisfaction. Half-filled and half-empty glass.

It’s actually a piece of cake to find things we can express gratitude on.

Start of weekend. Cats and dogs outside. Hiking trip cancelled. Meh!

Well, at least we have a home sheltering us. We even have Netflix to entertain ourselves.

Or, year review.. NO pay raise. Can it be worse?

You are not sacked, aren’t you? You still have a stable job.

Or even, back to very basic. We are still alive, right? We are still living in this world of mystery and amazement. We still have lots to explore. There’s nothing to mourn on.

There are always angels and devils in our brains. While we are usually the devil’s advocate, try to stand on the angel’s side now.

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Use the app “Happify” to cultivate positivity scientifically

Ever imagined an app to ‘happify’ ourselves. An app to delight ourselves and brighten our day?

Then try Happify, an app designed specially for us to handle our negative emotions. It provides us with scientifically-proven tools and techniques to promote our emotional well-being.

    It consists of short activities and games for us to relearn situations and be more aware of the subtle little things we should be grateful for.

    While we usually the gadgets are taking a toll out of us, it is now possible to cultivate positivity right back from it.

    Celebrate your small wins every day

    One easy way to start cultivating our positivity is to write down our small wins on a daily basis. And research has reassured the potential benefits of doing so.

    Progress is a lot more than just a step closer to success, as Amabile and Kramer suggest. In fact, if we properly record our progress, no matter how small it is, we instantly receive a confidence boost!

    Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School and Steven Kramer read through approximately 12,000 diary entries written by 238 individuals from 7 different companies. The employees were asked to write about their emotions and moods, motivation levels, and perceptions of the work environment as well as what work they did and what events stood out in their minds on a daily basis for 4 months. [5]

    The result showed that any accomplishment, regardless of its size, activates the reward circuitry of our brains. Once activated, a chemical dopamine is released and this chemical is associated to the feeling of pride and achievement.

    More importantly, the chemical also motivates us to continue on with the taking challenges and to attempt to repeat the same achievement next time. This forms a positive reinforcement loop that makes us more likely to be successful.

    So pay close attention to what you achieved. Ran for 400m? Got up 10 minutes earlier? Mark these down and recognize yourself! It’s never too much.

    Reference

    More by this author

    Jeffrey Lau

    Editor. Sport Lover. Animal Lover.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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