Have you ever noticed how some people always seem happy and able to have a laugh, even when the going gets tough? The kind of people who can lift you up no matter how low you are feeling, and make you smile? Then you’ve experienced the power of positive people!
Positive people experience better health, more energy, and feel more peaceful, happier and calmer than negative people (Dr David Hamilton, 2008). In fact, in a report by U.S. News & World 2006 it was stated that positive people live longer!
While it is believed that some people are actually born with a higher ‘happiness setpoint’ than others with 50% of our positivity being attributed to genes (Marci Shimoff , 2009), psychologists widely believe it’s only 10% to do with our general circumstances (level of education, income, married/single) and 40% a learned skill, almost like knitting! This large chunk can be changed quickly because it is to do with your day-to-day behaviour and how you think about yourself and others. Which is great, because it means that in the same way you’d turn up your radiator on a chilly day, you can raise your positivity level.
Positive people anticipate happiness, joy, health and successful outcomes from everyone and everything. They have flexible thinking, which allows them to shift perspective; helping them to reconcile external changes, integrate internal conflicts and balance inconsistencies. The Dalai Lama says that by adopting a positive, flexible approach to life “we can maintain our composure in even the most restless and turbulent conditions”. Positive people are brilliant at turning negative situations into positive ones.
Here are my 7 Top Tips to Turn Up Your Positivity:
1. Start noticing how you feel around positive vs. negative people
It is useful to notice how you feel when you are around the different people in your life and become aware of who the positive players are, as well as the negative ones. Surround yourself with as many positive people as possible and notice the impact they have on your own level of positivity and flexible thinking. Positive people hold a higher vibrational energy than negative people. And people are naturally attracted to that higher vibration.
People are a bit like tuning forks – like attracts like. The positive people will help keep you motivated and uplifted on your journey through life. The negative people will shut down your dreams, take away your confidence and disempower you.
2. Spend more time with the positive people in your life
Who are the positive people in your life? You may find you can think of quite a few positive people in your life that you can go to whenever you want to investigate the potential of a new idea, sound off about something or get support when you feel stuck. Perhaps your mum is really good at listening and cheering you up when things have gone pear shaped with your new boyfriend, or your best friend is a brilliant brain-storming partner for exploring new business ideas. Maybe Hannah from the Accounts Department has just the right words of encouragement waiting for you at the coffee bar when you’ve had a sleepless night worrying about your 4 year old bed-wetter and 6 year old who’s being bullied at school.
If you are struggling to think of positive people in your life, or want to connect with a few more, you may wish to join a group with a positive focus so that you can meet with people who focus on what they can achieve rather than what they can’t. This can really give a boost to your own positive buzz! Or think about taking on someone to help champion your successes and notice the positive things about you, like a life coach or hobby buddy (someone who shares a similar interest area to you and encourages you to explore it – for example linking up with someone else who wants to learn to swim and going together to your local pool for classes, or someone who is also rediscovering their love of painting that you can meet for an hour each week and get creative together).
3. Chose a positive role model
You might also find it helpful to identify who have been your 3 biggest role models in life and ask yourself why. What is it that you admire/have admired about each person? Chose the role model you feel inspired by the most and cut out a picture of them that you can keep somewhere easily accessible. You’ll understand why in a moment!
If you don’t have a positive role model that you can think of, then find one! This doesn’t need to be someone you know. It could be the author of your favourite inspirational book, a talkshow host you admire or someone walking the talk and living the life of your dreams. Pick someone who makes you feel really alive when you think of them.
When you are deliberating over a situation or feeling a bit down about something, pull out the picture of your positive role model and ask yourself “What advice would X give to me right now” – I’ve found many clients are often amazed at the incredible wisdom unlocked from within, when they do this. Give it a try! It will help you shift perspective and adopt more flexible thinking, as the Dalai Lama calls it!
4. Change your thoughts from negative to positive
Start becoming aware of the thoughts that enter your head day to day, from moment to moment. Know that you have a choice each time a thought enters your head about whether to engage with it or not. Your thoughts literally create the reality you experience in life, remember the tuning forks ‘like attracts like’! So thinking negative thoughts attracts negative experiences, thinking positive? – yep, you’ve guessed it – attracts positive.
By choosing to change your thoughts from negative to positive, you can quite literally, change your life! You can become a positive person – if you chose to! It’s a bit like that song ‘always look on the bright side of life… da da, da da da da, da da!’ (written by a positive chappy – Eric Idle).
When you experience an event that makes you feel angry, take a deep breath and find something positive you can take from the experience – for example did it help you become more skilled at communicating your emotions, teach you to trust your instincts more, give you more appreciation for aspects of your life, strengthen a relationship, help you forgive someone or help you grow stronger as a person? This technique can help lower stress levels, ease pain and assist you in moving on much happier about the situation.
5. Stop Complaining
Here’s a challenge for you, should you wish to accept – in the book A Complaint Free World, Will Bowen suggests going 21 days without complaining and noticing the huge difference and boost to their health. Why the boost to health? Well, basically because complaining and criticising… sitting in all the negative stuff has become such a way of life for so many people that it has formed a habit they are completely unaware of. Dwelling on negative things causes stress to our systems and negative effects on your body. Not to mention the effect it has on those around us who pick up on the bad vibes we then, in turn send out to them too.
Want to give the 21 day challenge a go? OK, buy yourself one of those plastic charity wrist bands and pop it on one of your wrists. Now, for the next 21 days for each time you find yourself complaining, criticising or unfairly judging someone else move the band from one wrist to the other. This is brilliant for bringing your thought habits and behaviors into your awareness. For many people the band gets moved at least 20 times per day initially. But here’s the good news – after the first few days the majority of people find that they can easily go 4/5 days without having to move the band once!
If a wearing a band doesn’t tickle your fancy, then try putting two little plastic cups (like the kind you get at the water dispenser at work) on your desk. Mark one cup A and the other B. Put 20 peas (dry ones!) in cup A at the start of the day. Every time you feel the urge to complain, criticise or judge (either inside your head or out loud) transfer a pea from cup A to cup B. At the end of the day count how many peas you have in each cup. By the end of the week you’ll be surprised at how many fewer peas you’ll have jumping over from A to B. And be feeling much happier, more positive and on the way to better health! Yippeee!
6. Pay a kindness forward
When I first discovered life coaching my coach Carol Newland (Founder of Worklife Architect) introduced me to the ‘Pay It Forward’ concept (doing a good turn without wanting something in return, and if anyone asks how to repay the favour, ask that it be paid forward instead). David Hamilton also talks about this passionately. He says research has proven that people who perform random acts of kindness for other people are happier and more positive. And these acts don’t need to be grand in scale, very minor acts, like letting someone jump a queue or donating £1 to charity can be enough to produce significant gain in happiness and positivity for your day.
So boost your positivity today. No matter how small a step you take – the results will be better vibrations for you, for those around you, indeed for the world!
7. Adopt a Gratitude Attitude
Research by psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough discovered that people who express gratitude for things, people and places that they are appreciative of in their lives each day end up happier, healthier and more optimistic about the future.
At the end of each day think through five things for which you are grateful – you may wish to keep a simple diary of these things (either in a journal, on your computer, or how about trying a gratitude blog online?!) or think them through to yourself in you head, or share your five things over dinner you’re your family/partner/friends/dog.
Research indicates that by doing this for just 5 days you’ll soon become aware of increased levels of overall happiness and better general mood, which is likely to persist for several months. http://passionforfreshideas.com/healthyliving/power-positive-people-2/