Friday was my birthday and my sweet husband took me on a surprise trip to Charleston, SC for the weekend. After an amazing weekend of coaching workshops, watching women's tennis, graveyard tours, and baseball games, I was greeted at home by an abundance of sweet birthday cards in the mail. Thanks EVERYONE :-) The cards and all the facebook greetings all made me feel so loved! I enjoyed each and every one of them. One of the cards was from my dear friend, Tune who I've been friends with since 3rd grade. That's 17 years of a friendship that I truly cherish. After some reading through her well wishes and inquiries about my life, she posed this question: Do you have a book recommendation on how to stay positive in a negative world? Oh how I LOVE questions! And how I LOVE books and knowledge too. Of course I have a book recommendation Tuney! I have a plethora of book recommendations. I also have a bunch of questions to to find out the context of the question. What is important about staying positive in a negative world?
Well first, the topical answer. Zig Ziglar's book "Staying Up, Up, Up, in a Down, Down World" and "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale are both very good.
And now for my own personal answers that you've inspired me to document. How do I stay positive?
Kim's 10 Ways to Stay Positive in a Negative World:
1. Watch your thoughts.
I read somewhere that we live 95% of our lives on automatic pilot. This serves us in many ways but the downside is that we can get into negative thinking habits. Start checking in with yourself throughout the day and pay attention to what you're thinking. If you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about a situation, make the conscious choice to stop that thought. Instead, divert your thoughts to the questions below. An example of this is when we have plans for our day that are foiled by circumstances and/or other people. Instead of getting mad, anxious, irritated, or sorry for yourself, ask yourself:
a. What am I learning here?
b. What is the opportunity here?
c. How is this a character building moment?
2. Surround yourself with positive friends
Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." It's the same with positivity. Attitude is catching. Walk with the positive and and grow more positive. We are influenced by our environments and friends more than we realize. Check the people you chose to spend your time with. Do they veer towards the positive end of the scale or the negative? Once you evaluate that, decide how you want to be influenced.
3. Read something positive or inspirational every day
Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." You've got to set your mind on a positive path and the way to do that is to feed it positive inspirational stories. Positive inspirational stories to the mind is like what food is to the body or water to plants. It's nourishment and it's necessary to fertilize the mind for positive blossoms to grow. Some recommendations for inspirational stories are the bible, books, the internet is full of stories which you can google, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul always makes me feel good.
4. Contribute to someone else's life
When we do something for someone else, it benefits us greatly. For one, it makes us feel good about ourselves that we have something to offer someone else. We're making a valuable and meaningful contribution in some way which feels good. Secondly, we take the focus off of us and we put it on someone else which also helps to relieve some of the worry and anxiousness that focusing on our own lives leads to sometimes. We momentarily forget about our own troubles and create something good for another person as well as our soul. Three, we're able to be there for someone else and ease maybe some of their burdens to encourage them in some way.
5. Call a friend
Do you ever have one of those days when things just aren't going your way? You feel the burden of the world on your shoulders. You just want to crawl up in a ball, go to bed, put the covers over you, and forget the whole day ever happened. Well, this is the opportunity to call a friend. Share you burdens with a friend. You'll feel better about getting some things off your chest and not feeling like you have to go at it alone. You'll also probably get a fresh perspective that could possibly turn the whole thing around for you. A word of caution, if you don't want advice and you just want someone to listen, make that request upfront so that your friend will know how they can best be there for you.
6. Practice extreme self-care
Do you ever notice that when you're not taking care of yourself like the times when you don't get enough sleep or your overworked, how anything can easily set you off? Noticing when I'm more impatient or irritated than normal is a cue to me that I have not been taking care of myself as well as I could have been. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and making time for rejuvenation. The results will be a happier healthier you as well as better relationships with those around you.
7. Eliminate energy drains
Eliminating energy drains frees you up to be more positive. The following exercise came from Jack Canfield's Inner Circle Club. Make a list of all the irritations and tolerations in your life and ask the following questions:
a. What irritates you? What are you tolerating?
b. What do you need to do to fix it?
c. Who could you ask for help to get it handled?
d. How do you stop yourself from asking?
e. What is the possible benefit of asking?
f. When will you ask them?
8. Make a gratitude list
So often we go through life with expectations that things need to be a certain way and are disappointed when they're not. For most of us, it's as if we only see the things that go wrong or aren't working in our lives and we have the tendency to blow them up in our mind and give them more attention than they deserve. To shift from what's not working to what's working, make a gratitude list and feel your heart expand. You may be surprised at how many things are going right in your life and you'll have a change of heart when you focus on it.
9. Make a list of things that give you energy, lift your spirits, and make you happy and commit to regularly integrating those things into your life.
So many of us go through the motions of life and take this life so seriously. We're crossing things off our to do lists and taking on more and more responsibilities. In a fast paced society, where is there room for fun and rejuvenation? The truth is, it's available any time you chose it. And the more you have it, the more productive you can be. What are some things that give you energy? Here's a list of some of the things that breath life back into me: ballroom dancing, listening to music, playing my guitar, talking to friends, going for a walk, watching nature, getting a massage, I can't believe I'm saying this but blogging helps me to feel good, writing, playing tennis, coaching, reading a good book, listening to an inspirational podcast, new information, classes, learning, etc, etc.
10. Expand your horizons
This is a wildcard answer that I haven't completely formulated yet. What I know is that sometimes we can get stuck in rut. We can get stuck in our patterns of thinking and behaving and sometimes we need to stretch ourselves in some way externally in order to expand our thinking internally. There's a saying, "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got." So what do I mean expand your horizons? I mean do something different in your life. Try a new restaurant, order a new dish, find a new way to get to work, travel some place new, take on a new skill, set some new scary audacious goals. Do something challenging. The point is to help you get out of your comfort zone so that you can get a change in perspective. Marcel Proust said, "the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes." What will you do differently to change your perspective?
Thank you Tune for the inspiration you provided me :-) I hope you and others find my perspective helpful for you life. If anyone wants to add to and share their ways of staying positive in a negative world, please comment on this blog. Be blessed!