By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
Have you ever wondered where the good times have gone? Do you find yourself in the grocery store line listening to customers lament on the world’s problems? Do you run in to pick up your dry cleaning in time to hear the latest update about a virus you’ve never heard of? Do you cook a fabulous dinner and sit down to enjoy family time around the table, but instead hear about your spouse’s demanding boss or your child’s teacher who will be out the rest of the year due to breast cancer? How much bad news can you take? How can you possibly remain upbeat when everyone around you is full of gloom, doom and negativity?
In truth, we all get down sometimes, but if you are surrounded by negative friends and family, you are exposing yourself to a contagious attitude. Negativity, like the common cold, is spread by word of mouth and actions. Like the common cold, the best way not to catch it is to use precaution and prevent being susceptible.
Here are my 25 favorite ways to stay upbeat and positive:
* Get involved with people or projects that give you meaning.
* Schedule time in your day to have five minutes of total quiet alone.
* Meditate by focusing on your breathing in and out slowly.
* Don’t take other’s negativity personally.
* Limit your time with negative people and make your life a no venting or complaining zone.
* Play: yoga, running and/or walking are good examples of adult playtime.
* Go to a movie with a friend or by yourself.
* Listen to music that makes you feel positive.
* Write down three things you’ve always wanted to do or were interested in and begin learning one of them.
* Have Friday or Sunday night potluck night. Everyone can come, but everyone brings something to the table.
* Have a suggestion box set up in your home so kids, as well as other family members, can write suggestions for innovative new family outings or rituals.
* Go to church: according to research church goers are happier, healthier and find more meaning in life than non-church goers.
* Play with your kids even when they’re grown.
* Hug family and friends as much as you can.
* When worries take over, step back and focus on today…now.
* Be grateful and say thank you each opportunity you get. The more you give thanks, the more you have to be thankful for as time goes on.
* Plant a garden or at least a few plants.
* Get a pet or spend time watching animals on TV.
* Watch funny movies or movies that encourage good rather than evil.
* When faced with a challenge instead of getting discouraged think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow your business, relationship, or wherever the challenge is.
* Give away whatever you aren’t using.
* Pay it forward every chance you get.
* Read autobiographies and biographies. They help you understand that everyone goes through really bad times and how you handle it defines your character.
Life gets rough for everyone sometimes, but life stays rough for those who allow the bad times to taint the joyful times as well. I have met people who live horrific lives of chronic pain, yet their attitude is so positive they infect others, which feeds back and revitalizes them with positivity. No one has you sign a negative contract, however. Surrounding and staying in negative relationships locks you into their contract. Break free! Find and encourage positive interactions and relationships for yourself and those who are open to being infected with good energy.
– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at maryjorapini.com.