TIP 2: Be Positive Even In Positive Situations
If we give a thought to it, ‘think positive and be optimistic’ is a tip we often tend to use when faced with a negative situation. In other words, a general interpretation of “think positive” is, “think positive when things go wrong.” When I have overshot a deadline and am expecting fireworks from my boss, I need to “be positive” and tell myself, “he may just be in a good mood today.” This is what we do when we’re faced with a negative situation. However, what about when we’re faced with a positive situation??
Positivity has the power to lighten up a negative situation. However, it also has an equally important role in enhancing happy situations. This is largely overlooked and with good reason. Why so?
All human beings have a natural tendency to try to avoid pain. We are in a continual quest to pre-empt, predict and eradicate any possibility of a negative situation. Think about it. “If my boss knows I want to leave early he will surely make me stay back!!” “If I don’t get a cab, I will be late for work!!!” Our minds are full of these “If-then” algorithms.
So far so good. We need to be aware of what can go wrong. However, we need to be equally aware of what is going right too. We work hard all our lives to make the good happen and miss experiencing “good” almost incessantly. A small ‘wrong’ or ‘negative’ often poses as a significant irritant. However, it is equally important to soak in and dwell on the little goodies. We need to consciously pause and experience the joy that such moments bring. Let me explain with the help of 2 simple scenarios:-
It is a hot, sultry day. You have to keep an important appointment, for which you are about to leave your home. You are already late. Your toddler, who is rather impulsive, is on the floor playing with his toy car. He suddenly sets the car running in full speed. It topples his glass of milk and you suddenly have an extra chore to delay you further.
It is a hot, sultry day. You have to keep an important appointment, for which you are about to leave your home. You are already late. Your toddler, who is rather impulsive, is on the floor playing with his toy car. He spots you leaving and calls out to you saying, “bye mom/dad, come back soon!”
Which scenario are you more likely to dwell on? Which situation will have a greater impact on how you feel? Which of these two events are you more likely to describe to your friends later that evening? For a good majority of us, it will be the former.
In other words, the negative gains more importance than the positive in our minds. How many times do we truly feel happy when for example, our child agrees to listen to us, when our partners let us watch that daily soap/ test match, the times we have been on time to work and completed our tasks efficiently? Think about it. The smooth, ‘normal days’ largely outnumber the messy, erratic ‘bad days’ in our lives. Nevertheless, in our battle against hassles, we often take these little positives for granted. We tend to consider it as the bare minimum that is ought to be there. Therefore it does not hold any ‘happiness value’ for us. However, consciously feeling good when such events occur helps the mind both physiologically and psychologically. Feeling happy secretes happy hormones. Moreover, it also helps us feel calm and confident, a state we all like to be in.
Therefore, remember to be equally conscious of the positive as you are of the negative. The next time anything positive occurs in your lives,
Be aware –
Pause and remind yourselves of the positivity of the event, even for the smallest of goodies.
‘Sense’ the moment –
Smile to yourself, soak in the feeling. Breathe. Let your senses take in and enjoy all that is around you. Watch closely the expression of your toddler as he says bye. Sense the emptiness of the roads and the vehicle zipping smoothly when you encounter lesser traffic on a typically congested street. Listen intently to the lilting voice of the singer when you play music. Be mindful
Experience, do not evaluate –
most of us tend to say, ‘so what! There are myriad other problems!’ In doing so, we deny happiness to our minds. Remember, the slightest of good is also capable of soothing our minds if experienced fully. So simply experience, do not judge. Dwell on the joy, dwell on the positivity.
Here’s to Mental Health!
Post contributed by: Malini Krishnan (Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-Present)