Ever get caught in negative thoughts? That’s ok, we all do. This is the second post where we explain why positivity matters and give you some tips on how to develop more positivity in your day.
When our ancestors were roaming the fields to hunt for food, they had to constantly scan their environment and be prepared for danger at any given moment. They survived by expecting the worse at any point in time and be prepared to fight to survive.
Expecting the worst got hard wired in the human brain and DNA and passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, our brain is wired with a negative bias. Researchers estimate that nowadays for every positive thoughts and memory we have about seven negative thoughts and memories. And it doesn’t just stop there, as you can read from this article it is quite common to have obscure and wicked thoughts.
If we’re not aware of our negative thoughts we might get lost and spend hours a day in a world of negative memories and self-criticism. This activates our ‘fight or flight response’ and releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This in turn, negatively impacts our health through our immune system, blood pressure and poor sleeping patterns.
It’s ok to have negative thoughts. If we are aware of them, we can use strategies as described in my first post to stop them, replace them or just let them go. We can also use a strategy to focus on positive moments and be positive about ourselves. In this way we can retrain our brain to become more positive. In some cases this positivity can release the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin. Increased levels of oxytocin are related to feelings of trust, calm, safety, generosity and connectedness. This in turn has a positive effect on our own well-being.
What follows are some simple tips and techniques to build more positivity in your day. These are also used as intervention techniques to develop your self-worth and confidence, an important attribute of Mental Toughness. Making these a routine can have great results for your own well-being and performance.
- Self-compassion: We tend to be far more critical to ourselves than to others. When you have a setback or you made a mistake, acknowledge it, but talk to yourself as you were talking to a good friend about the mistake or setback. Or keep in mind how you would talk to a child about a mistake. If you are a competitive person like me, you’ll find this hard, but have a go at it.
- Savouring: Savouring is about extending a pleasant moment. If you enjoy walking your child to school, a meal or your favourite song, try to hang in to the moment rather then moving on straight to the next moment. Hanging out and enjoying with our positive moment gets hard wired in our brain. I took a savouring moment when I got great feedback from a client yesterday.
- Gratitude: Gratitude is about taking time and reflect on things you are thankful for. Your health, friends, a family dinner or simply a task you completed. Say ‘thank you’ in the moment or writing them down at the end of the day will create a positive mindset. We can even show gratitude for the learnings we took from a negative experience. I sometimes use this gratitude Grateful app to plant seeds of gratefulness.
- Self-appreciation: Notice and reflect on the things you like about yourself. Write them down in a ‘best friend’ journal and read them out loud. You can be knowledgeable, honest, a singer or writer, a proud parent. Any quality or skill you like about yourself will help. I sometimes browse through my affirmation app on my mobile.
- Loving-kindness Meditation: For more formal development, you can practice meditation. If you have developed a loving acceptance of yourself, you can practice loving-kindness to others. During meditation you can send love and well-wishes to a respected, loved, neutral or even a hostile person. With some practice you can feel compassion and release oxytocin with all its great benefits. I have to be honest here. I did this once towards a for me hostile person and it got me in a quite intense emotional state. When the time is right I’ll do it again.
Good luck with including some of these techniques and bring more positivity in your day. This is not just helpful in your day to day job; this is helpful in your life!. Once you get started, you are on your way to create a more positive mindset and increase your confidence, mental toughness, well-being and performance.