Thinking More Positively as a Naturally Positive Person
Everyone who knows me would describe me as a positive person. I'm the one who always looks for the lesson in any negative experience, my signature look is a toothy, wide mouthed smile and I easily find enjoyment in even the most mundane tasks. Even so, I figured I could always be more positive. I have a habit of lamenting the things I don't have, coveting other peoples' lives and I often become overwhelmed by small things. I wondered, is positivity a learnt behaviour or something one is born with? And can I learn to become, dare I say it, an even more positive person?
Looking back at my childhood, I can see that there are certainly factors that directly link to my sunny disposition - a supportive relationship with my parents, growing up in an environment where it felt safe to trust authority figures, and being lucky enough to have my basic needs met on a consistent basis. These factors, along with the ability to self regulate, feeling valued and having a naturally positive disposition, are all components that contribute to creating a positive mindset in adulthood.
Being mindful of your mental state and knowing how to regulate your emotions can go a long way to keeping your attitude at the optimistic end of the spectrum. Contrary to popular belief, positive thinking is not characterised by simply ignoring negative feelings, pushing them aside and maintaining an upbeat image regardless of what has happened. Positive thinking is about approaching challenges with a positive mindset, acknowledging difficulties and tackling your issues head on. By recognising your short comings and what you are able to give at any particular time, you can set realistic goals for yourself - a method I can undeniably apply to my own life with a little more consistency.
Of course, these factors alone don't guarantee that you will be the sort of person who wakes each morning with a smile on their face. Whether or not you had the seeds of positivity planted during childhood, you can still nurture a positive outlook by actively working on it. Being engaged in your community, spending your time volunteering and giving to others are actions that can increase your level of positivity. These activities create connections with the people around us and foster a sense of belonging to something larger than yourself. Giving meaning to your life, even by contributing in small ways, can significantly impact your outlook on life.
Even if your childhood didn't foster the environment to allow a positive disposition to flourish naturally or if you have tendencies to be more on the negative side, remember that your frame of mind is not set in stone. Listen to your inner monologue, be honest with yourself and acknowledge your thoughts, negative or positive. Don't try to push away the 'bad' feelings, allow yourself to feel them without unquestioningly believing them. By considering why we automatically think of something as good or bad, you can begin to unravel your trains of thought and spin them in another direction. Retraining your mind to think in a new way isn't easy and certainly won't happen overnight. If it can help me to quash those feelings of jealously I get when I see someone doing something cool or eating something tasty or patting a cute dog on Instagram, it might be worth it. Of course, I could just stop looking at Instagram. But where's the fun in that?