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Published on December 4, 2018

Start Living a Positive Life by Following These 4 Simple Steps

Start Living a Positive Life by Following These 4 Simple Steps

We all know the distinction between positive and negative. It’s like white and black, good and bad, and right and wrong. Therefore, the desire to live a good and positive life comes natural to us.

A positive life is different from a specific goal or want. If you want a specific thing like money, a job or a person – then you might have it, but it’s still something you can’t always control.

But a positive life is something you can always take control of yourself and change from within because you can live a positive life no matter where you are, who you are, or what you do.

This article takes you through 4 simple steps that will help you let go off negativity and start living the positive life you deserve.

1. Take Control of Your Mindset

Did you know that most of our reactions and actions are controlled by our habits?

Let’s use an example:

You might wake up every day with the alarm clock going off and this causes a negative reaction. Why? Well, you have implemented the idea of waking up early as a bad thing. Then your mind has made the alarm clock a trigger. The sound of it now connects it to something negative.

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It’s normal to be tired in the morning, but you don’t have to start out your day by being grumpy. Even though you’ve told yourself that it’s okay and it’s a ‘normal’ reaction; it’s actually something you’ve programmed all by yourself in your mind.

Changing your mindset takes time because it’s about recreating your way of thinking, but it’s still a simple step. The good news is that unlike a vegetable, you actually have thoughts – and not only that – you’re able to change them.

You might have told yourself that you daily negative responses to certain things are normal and they are out of your control at this point because the reaction is unconsciously made. But the unconscious mind is not a second mind playing by its own rules. It’s something you can control and reprogram.

John Bargh explains how our unconscious mind functions. It’s controllable if we want it to be:[1]

”We have a single, unified mind that operates in both conscious and unconscious modes, always using the same set of basic machinery, fine-tuned over the course of evolutionary time.”

This means you can take control of your mindset and you can change your outlook on things.

Remember, the alarm clock is just an example of a daily habit or routine that can control your mind-set with or without your knowledge.

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It’s not about the alarm clock ringing. You can’t turn of the alarm clock without throwing away your responsibilities. The problem isn’t the alarm clock. The problem isn’t even your response. The problem is that you have programmed this reaction without noticing it.

If you create a mindset that reacts to these situations with a positive response, then you’ll reprogram yourself day by day.

Yes, you have to get out of bed early. No, you don’t really want to go to work or wherever you have to go, but what do you want? You still want to get out of bed and do something with your day. You still want to live your life. Instead of letting the sound of the alarm clock reminding you of what you don’t want, then let it be a reminder of a new day arriving – that’s great – because this day is yours.

2. Memorize Positive Words

It sounds too easy to be true, but by memorizing a list of positive words you can force your brain to use positive words more often and this will help you live a more positive life.[2] The same way you can reprogram your mindset, you can rewrite your vocabulary. The words will start come to you naturally and your outlook will change.

Some psychologists have measured which words count as positive and negative, but if you think about it, then you probably already know the words yourself.[3] It’s not about educating yourself and learning new words. It’s about using what ’s already within you.

Once you start using more positive words, it will not only affect your own way of thinking, but it will also affect the people around you.

Have you ever noticed how positive and happy people tend to spread their mood to other people around them? Usually a smile is met with another smile. A positive conversation will most likely be met with the same good tone.

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3. Focus on What Matters

Mark Manson wrote a book titled The Subtle Art of not Giving A F*ck, which leads many to believe it’s about not caring about anything. This could not be further from the true.

The one thing you have to realize is that there will always be both negative and positive things in your life, but you can control which ones affect you.

Yes, you have the ability to care about what matters. It’s as simple as it sounds. Take a look at your past, present and future. How many times have you wasted your energy on something that in the end didn’t matter?

The true is that we shouldn’t care about everything. We shouldn’t care about certain things like what our old classmates thinks of us, or what people say about our social media or get annoyed by the co-worker who talks behind your back.

In the end, you’ll never be able to win in all aspects of your life and you can’t focus your energy on everything.[4]

“You can’t be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and an embarrassment to others.”

What you can do is prioritize. What really matters to you? What do you care about? Block out everything else and focus on what you should care about.

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4. Learn to Say No

For some people, it’s hard to say no because it means you’re either letting someone down or letting an opportunity go. If you look at the words yes and no, then most people would view a no as a negative and not a positive word.

The thing people forget are that you can’t say yes to everything. When you say yes to something, then you’re also saying no something else. Maybe your boss asked you to work late and finish a project, so you say yes because you don’t want to disappoint him or her. At the same time, this may mean you’ll miss out on your kids play, even though you promised him or her that you would be there.

The point is that every time you say yes, you’re also saying no. Every time you choose to do one thing, then you’re taking away time from something else. It would be great if we could do it all, but we can’t.

You need to learn to say no. This step can be very simple as it’s actually just an extension of the step above. You’ll learn to say no by finding out what you really want and what you don’t want. This way you won’t be saying no, when you turn away someone or something, because you’ll know that you have already chosen to say yes to something else.

A positive life starts from within and even though nothing (rarely) drastically changes from one day to another, a positive life can come to you easily by following these simple steps.

Featured photo credit: A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Maria Jensen

Specializes in personal and professional development.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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