I don’t know how many times I’ve been labeled as unrealistic or naïve just because I focus on the bright side of situations. For some reason, many people assume that being positive is the same thing as being blissfully ignorant – but that’s not how it has to be! It’s not like anyone has ever told me to “be more negative,” but the phrase “be more realistic” has been used enough, I’ve taken the hint.
So I’m here to tell you just how realistic an optimistic attitude can truly be.
Being positive does not mean being happy all the time.
News flash! Read the above statement a few times – maybe ten times if it hasn’t sunk in yet. Just because positivity is more pleasant than negativity does not mean that a person who embodies it is always happy. That sounds straight-up exhausting anyway. Part of being positive is making the best of negative situations…and sometimes those negative situations are the icky emotions in our head.
Let yourself feel Crappy when you feel crappy and happy when you feel happy.
We all want to be happy, but constantly striving for happiness can be just as dreadful as being down all the time. A quote in the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” says it all: “The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
Let yourself be. It is possible to feel horrible while knowing it will pass soon, even if you’re unsure how – That in itself is positive thinking. It would actually be more negative if you tortured yourself for feeling negative. I’m not saying your sad phases are going to be a jolly good time now, but I am saying a serious weight will be lifted from your shoulders when you don’t feel pressured to rush your recovery. Just check in every now and then to make sure the sadness doesn’t rule your life. If you do struggle with anxiety or depression on a more regular basis, check out the cheats I use to beat anxiety on a daily basis.
Positivity does not mean ignoring negative realities.
Yes, even in horribly messy situations, I’m that obnoxious person who mentions a bright side. No, I’m not oblivious to the madness around me, and I’m not in denial of the seriousness of the situation either…but since I can’t change it, why dwell on that fact? Why not focus on the part I can handle? Even if there’s nothing I can control, why not better the vibe with an uplifting spirit? I mean, I do know when to shut up and just let the sucky times suck – I’m not that obnoxious – but if I can alleviate some stress for myself and others, I’ve got us covered.
Being an optimistic person doesn’t mean you ignore the harsher aspects of reality. It means you accept it for what it is and make the best of it. Life is all about how you react and move forward.
Accept people and situations for who/what they are and make the best of it.
This is a key tip for a lifetime of happiness. One of my favorite quotes is, “A secret to happiness is letting every situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be, and then making the best of it.”
Similar to accepting your crappy moods, a part of positivity is accepting the crappy people and situations around you. An unrealistic positive person would assume they could help change another person. A realistic positive person may say something to them to plant a seed, but they don’t waste their energy trying to do anything further. Learning to find this fine line is essential. It’s like the serenity prayer – May you accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Positive people can make realistic decisions too.
Sure, I can see where super optimistic people can seem a bit idealistic at times. If all you do is focus on the bright side, you may miss some serious potential risks! However, if all you do is focus on the risks, you may miss some potential opportunities – so it goes both ways. The beauty of having a balance of both positivity and awareness of negatives is basically being a living, breathing pros/cons list. Leaning towards the positive side just helps you push forward with your decision with a little more gusto.
Being negative can be easier than being positive.
Up until now, you’ve probably felt like, “Okay Jade, we get it. But this ‘positivity’ thing just doesn’t come naturally to me.” And you’re right! Positivity definitely does not come naturally to you or me or any of us for that matter. Our ancient ancestors needed to be aware of every horrible thing that could possibly happen in order to survive…so it’s only natural for our brains to jump to the worst conclusions most of the time. It even has it’s own name: negativity bias. Our brains are biased towards expecting negative outcomes, because we want to be prepared in case those things happen. Sound familiar?
Thankfully, most of the things we dread nowadays are not actually risks to our survival. So even though our evolutionary bodies are like, totally on par with trying to protect us, we need to reassure them that this ain’t their time to shine. Those instincts need to take a step back and hibernate until you really need them. And you are the only one who can shut that show down. By observing your thoughts and being mindful of your reaction to them, you can break the habit of negativity.
So where do we go from here?
So how can you be positive while still acknowledging the more “negative” realities of life? How do two opposite mindsets coexist?
Pay Attention to your Words & Thoughts – & Practice, practice, practice.
Just like you have to keep exercising a muscle to keep it strong, you have to keep practicing positive thoughts for them to come naturally to you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been positive in your life, or if you usually are and are struggling to get back to that mindset. Once you realize your perspective needs a reboot, you’re on the right track. You’ll get there.
Having an overall positive mindset doesn’t mean you’ll start singing about rainbows and sunshine 24/7. But it does mean you might notice the rainbows and sunshine a bit more often.
If you’d be interested in learning more about practicing positivity, please let me know in the comments below or by contacting me! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Until next week!