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How to Build Positive Thinking to Improve a Bad Day

How to Build Positive Thinking to Improve a Bad Day

I’ve had some bad mornings in my life — mornings where I woke up late for work or school (sometimes even waking up after I was supposed to be there), hungover, still bruised and/or bleeding from the night before, broke, in a car, on the street, and next to some insane people. From that point, the day goes downhill — I lost my job, car, and house; missed the bus; went broke; missed lunch; said the wrong thing on the news; got surrounded by police and homeland security; and ended up in the hospital, where I was released with nothing but a pair of shorts and my iPhone. Despite all of these problems, I manage to wake up again the next day, ready to face and change the world with the power of positive thinking.

Happy people used to annoy me. I was never one of those happy people until the last year or so. Before I became happy, I would listen to angry music, relate to it, and start steering my life toward that direction. When 2Pac, Eminem, etc. shouted about their problems, I internalized them and made them my own. The anger they expressed became what I thought I had to be in order to follow the footsteps of my idols… but then I realized I don’t have to be angry; just because I have problems doesn’t mean I have to focus on them. Instead, I can resolve them internally and work toward a positive outcome. This is when I discovered the power of positive thinking, and I’d like to share with you its simplicity.

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    Just Do It

    The trick to positive thinking is to simply think positive. I know this sounds a bit obvious and unobtainable, but bear with me — it’s easier than it sounds. Your thoughts are under your control. You’re the only person who ever hears them unless you choose to say them or (preferably) act on them. Let’s say you’re a couple of dollars short on your electric bill; you can choose to either freak out and stress about how broke you are, lowering your mood and allowing your day to be controlled by the electric company, or you can choose to focus on how to make the best of the position you’re in.

    Take the MCs I used above as an example. Sure, 2Pac and Eminem aired their dirty laundry and angry thoughts in their music, but they didn’t climb to the top of the hip-hop game by doubting themselves. Both of these men put themselves out there, knowing they could fail, but also believing in themselves enough to rise above the competition. Eminem, for example, is known for publicly discussing his mama and baby-mama drama. Instead of dwelling on it, he made a career out of it, talked his problem out, and moved past them. You can do the same.

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      You’re Not Alone

      Life sucks sometimes, but it’s a beautiful experience you only get once. As Jay-Z put it, “Flowers need water to grow; It gotta rain. And in order to experience joy, you need pain.” Bad things happen to all of us — no matter how rich, famous, or successful we are. So why do some of us smile while others don’t? It’s not a natural disposition; some people just repeat mantras in their head whenever a bad thought enters their head.

      I get angry sometimes; other times I get sad, or even depressed. I’ve had thoughts of what things would be like if I were dead. I drove across the country to start over — twice. As recently as two years ago, I briefly considered ending my life. As recently as two days ago, I anguished over where the hell my life is going, and why it feels like I can’t do anything right. I’ve made mistakes and bad decisions that have cost me nearly everything on more than one occasion. There isn’t much I haven’t lost — but I continue getting back up, putting a smile on my face, and going back out there to try again. You can do this too, but you need to start thinking positively. Here’s how I do it.

       

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        Repeat After Me…

        When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do is look myself in the mirror — it’s important to be able to face yourself in the mirror — and look at the man I’ve become. I reconnect with myself and remind myself that I’m a great guy. I compliment myself out loud to ensure the first words I both hear and say each day are positive. Then I clean myself up and eat breakfast to gather enough energy to be me. This sets the tone for the rest of the day.

        Throughout the day, I need a refresher for a variety of reasons: things don’t go as planned, something bad happens, someone rubs me the wrong way. During these times, my first thought used to be exasperation, but I forced myself to stop. I close my eyes for 10 seconds and breathe, repeating, “This, too, shall pass,” in my head over and over until I calm down. It’s a quick meditation to reset my train of thought. Whenever I have downtime, I take a moment to think about all of the wonderful people, places, and things in my life. I remind myself that I’m alive, I’m okay, and I’m fully capable of overcoming any obstacles.

         

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          Maintenance

          It was difficult at first, but eventually it took less and less time to get back into the game. The negative times have gotten less and less frequent (although they still happen). I still have a lot of problems (financial, romantic, career-based), but they don’t overwhelm me anymore. When something doesn’t go my way, I simply go a different route. Things haven’t necessarily gotten easier, but I accomplish much more. Knowing I’m constantly moving toward my goal (even if I fail, I’m still learning something and making progress) makes it easier to get through the hard times.

          The more you think positive, the easier it gets to think positive. Like everything else in life, it takes practice. If you’re feeling down and out, stop for a minute and think about everything you’re grateful for. Instead of thinking about your problems, think about your triumphs. The difference between a good day and a bad day is nothing more than the perspective in which it’s viewed. Think positive, and you’ll make a positive impact on this world. Get started right now.

           

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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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