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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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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

    How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

    Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

    For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

    But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

    It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

    The Importance of Saying No

    When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

    In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

    Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

    Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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    Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

    “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

    When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

    How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

    It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

    From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

    We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

    And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

    The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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    How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

    Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

    The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

    1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

    2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

    Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

    3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

    When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

    6 Ways to Start Saying No

    Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

    1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

    One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

    Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

    2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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    Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

    3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

    Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

    Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

    4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

    Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

    Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

    5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

    When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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    6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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