How to Stay Positive When the World Seems So Scary
8 ways you can keep the negativity in check
I’m a generally positive person. I’m the person people call when they’ve lost their job, broken up with their guy or generally need a positive perspective to an otherwise challenging situation. I’m the one who chose JOY as her word for 2017. I can see humor in almost everything. It’s a trait I inherited from my father — find the funny in what is, laugh and then figure out what you’re going to do to turn it around.
I admit I am challenged these days. Waking up to headlines about the proposed defunding of PBS, Meals on Wheels, allowing coal debris to be dumped into streams, repealing instead of improving upon the existing Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) and consequently leaving more Americans uninsured than before that bill was implemented make it hard even for someone like me to stay positive.
But I know in my core that positivity is what is most necessary to get to the other side of this. Staying positive means you can stay focused and do something to effect change. To wallow in the negative can make one feel helpless and without any recourse to change anything. A positive approach energizes where the opposite creates sleepless nights and mornings where you can’t seem to get out from under the covers.
The kick here is that staying positive does not magically appear on a cold Winter’s morning. You have to work at it which is hard to do when the blues are grabbing at your heartstrings. So the question becomes what does that work look like.
Monitor your time on social media
That might sound strange coming from someone who teaches people how to leverage social media for their business and personal brands but using social networks does not mean letting the medium use you. With the exception of Instagram, most social networks (think Facebook and Twitter) are swirling in negativity these days. If you want to keep your positivity in check you have to set the timer when paying your social network of choice a visit to avoid sinking into what I call, mindless scrolling syndrome.
Everyone seems to be talking meditation these days, which is not surprising. The more noise around us the harder it is to get quiet and hear the important stuff. For those who think that meditation is an impossible feat, I suggest downloading Meditation Studio or Headspace which can guide you through the process in five to ten minute intervals.
I am not talking dancing here. The tapping I’m referring to is also known as EFT and something I have found to be a great way to release a lot of this negative energy and get back to positivity. You can verbalize your feelings (which of course I love!) and tap through your meridian points to get clear and to a place of more positive thinking. Two sources I find helpful are Nick Ortner and Brad Yates, Both can walk you through the basics.
When struggling to get to positivity, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do, so this requires a kick in your own butt. But it really works. A good brisk walk in nature or a trip to the gym will release endorphins, those delightful chemicals that make us feel like we are in love and anything is possible.
Make a gratitude list
Easy and cheap, this works every time. Start and end the day with three things you are most grateful for. Keep a journal next to your bed. This is much smarter and feels much better than keeping your phone on the nightstand listening to CNN alerts interrupting your sleep.
Watch stuff that makes you laugh
While no less real than the evening news, I find the events of the day easier to digest when watching Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee or John Oliver. Comedy like Grace and Frankie and Blackish or even old episodes of Seinfeld or Friends are much better choices than doomsday drama and reality television. Even though it’s not comedy I’ll throw in shows like This is Us which might make you cry — but in a way that feels good and positive.
Do something that feels good instead of wallowing
When things are as disturbing as they are now, some people believe staying rooted in their anger and negativity is a good option. They see positivity as sticking one’s head in the sand to the cold, hard realities when it’s really just channeling your energy toward action that can make a difference. In that case, doing something like opening up the 5 Calls App and making five calls to Washington or sending a postcard to Speaker Ryan or the House Judiciary Committee is a surer route to staying positive than doing nothing.
My Greek-American upbringing taught me to be generous with other humans whether it was feeding someone, smiling at the person serving me behind the counter, offering advice or simply opening the door for a stranger instead of pushing them aside. My mother called it doing “something nice” for others. While the approach is one that comes from selflessness, I have learned being generous benefits the giver as much as the receiver. It feels good and feeling good is a straight line to staying positive — no matter what shows up.
Originally published at joannetombrakos.com on March 20, 2017.