Recently I’ve noticed that it has been challenging for me and many people I talk to and work with to stay positive. With the volatility of the economy, the negativity of the upcoming election, and fear of the unknown, it seems easy to get stuck in the “doom and gloom” of the world around us.
At this moment, even though it may be difficult, it’s important that we stay positive for the well being of our families, companies, relationships, communities, and especially for our own peace of mind. But, given all that has been going on recently, how can we stay positive genuine way?
While there’s no “quick fix” and we want to make sure we’re not avoiding what’s going on around us and within us, there are three things I believe we can do to help us stay positive in the mist of this current adversity, and adversity in general.
- Be Honest – Whenever we’re facing challenges, obstacles, or “difficult” circumstances, it’s important for us to be honest about how we truly feel. The most common feelings that we experience at these times are anger, fear, and shame. We get angry that something “bad” has happened or because we feel powerless. We get scared that it may get worse or that other people or circumstances may continue to perpetuate the issue in a way we can’t control. And, we feel shame that maybe we did something “wrong” or could have done something to avoid the situation all together. These three emotions are ones we often don’t like to admit or express. However, like all emotions, when we acknowledge them, own them, and express them – they have a way of dissipating and in the process we can free ourselves from their negative impact.
- Be Conscious – Pay attention to what you’re feeling, how you’re thinking, what you’re saying, and the actions you’re taking. Without judgment, see if you can be very aware of everything that is going on within you and how you’re reacting to what’s happening. In the midst of stress and adversity we have a tendency to think, say, and do things that don’t actually make things better and in many cases we make things worse. We complain, we worry, we speak negatively about life, others, and ourselves, we watch too much TV, we over eat, we drink too much, or we do various other things in an unconscious way that don’t serve us. The more conscious we can be about our feelings, thoughts, words, and actions – the more likely we are to stay positive and to move through the adversity in a way that we can actually learn and grow from, not just survive.
- Be Grateful – Although it’s often counter-intuitive to be grateful in the face of adversity, it’s often the most important time for us to focus on what we appreciate – about ourselves, others, and life in general. Even and especially when things go “bad,” we’re often given an opportunity to take inventory of the good stuff in our life that we may not have been paying attention to as we were rushing our way through things. Take some time right now to think about some of the things you’re grateful for. Adversity can remind us that while things may be tough, we have so many blessings – health, a job, a place to live, people who love us, and much more. And, there are also many things we can appreciate about the difficulty itself – we may realize we’re stronger than we thought we were, we have more support around us than we knew, or we’re able to learn some important lessons about ourselves and life. There is always a lot for us to be grateful for, if we choose to pay attention. We can’t feel grateful and victimized at the same time!
Without trivializing the impact of current state of the economy or other things going on around you, it is possible for each of us to remain open, optimistic, and positive in the face of any and all adversity or uncertainty. This doesn’t mean we’re somehow super human or always happy. It does mean, however, that we choose to be honest, conscious, and grateful in the midst of what’s going on. And, if we choose to do so, we can have this be a time of reflection, rejuvenation, and transformation for us and those around us.
Be kind to yourself and see if you can be present in as many moments as possible. And, it’s important that we always remember, “this too, shall pass.