There are times in life when everything seems to rush in all at once. A tornado of obstacles, trials, and unexpected life change is hurled at a speed so quick you’re left standing in the dust, wondering what on earth to do. Life has a bizarre way of twisting in and out of ease — sometimes you’re coasting downhill, wind at your back, other times it seems as though you’re swimming upstream. Personally, these last few months have been hard — it seems as though life is throwing non-stop curve balls.
I would consider myself a positive person — I like to look for the good in everything. But when life gets hard, staying positive becomes a challenge. Recently, my family and I have been through a series of rough times. From the loss of a loved one to unexpected health diagnoses, I’ve been left to wonder if I’m capable of remaining positive. Problems come in all shapes and sizes and no one person’s are more important than another’s. Though your emotions can’t turn on a dime and it’s unhealthy to push down what you’re really feeling, the following five points have helped me remain positive through challenging times:
Adjust your perspective: When times get tough it’s easy to sink into negativity and dwell on the unfortunate circumstances. When I lost someone close to me, I grieved and would find myself thinking only of how much I was going to miss them in my life. Yes, grieving is very healthy and necessary but I decided to change my perspective and begin to think of all of the beautiful memories we shared and how they shaped my life. You can also change your perspective by seeking solutions and taking calculated risks; if you can identify the problem, you will likely find a solution. For example, when I moved to NYC I battled times of loneliness, which would often lead to negative thoughts. I would combat them by taking risks: Attending music shows or exploring museums by myself, not to necessarily meet anyone, but to simply change my perspective. Have faith that changing the way you look at tough situations will lead to more positivity in your life.
Do something nice for someone else: There really is no better feeling than doing something kind for another person. Though I love me some shopping, the joy of helping or giving to another is much more lasting than the fleeting feel-good emotion of buying new shoes or another pair of jeans. Giving to others is a surefire way for me stay positive in challenging times. There are many different ways to extend yourself to those around you: Start with a simple “hello” or smile at a stranger, lend an ear without judgement to a friend, bring coffee to your co-workers on Monday morning… text your mom that you love her. You’ll be amazed at how giving and helping others really actually helps you.
Notice, capture, and release negative thoughts: My dad once taught me that recognizing negative thoughts is half the battle. The other half is choosing to release those thoughts. As humans, it’s easy to dwell in negativity but once you notice yourself thinking poorly, you have a choice to capture that thought, release it, and choose a positive one. It’s a difficult thing and one that will take practice but I guarantee that you are strong enough to choose positive thoughts.
Do what you love! In times of trouble, don’t forget what you love to do and go do it! If you love journaling, write! If you love music, turn it up! Get outside and hike, breathe the fresh air and look at the beauty around you! If affirmations are your thing, then post them up around your home. Break out your sketch pad and draw… paint… doodle. If you’re an active person, then by all means go take a run… dance… surf. When you get back to doing the things you love, your spirit is lifted and you radiate positivity.
Don’t be too hard on yourself: Unreasonable expectations can take a toll on your mindset. It’s important to give yourself a break sometimes. Forgiving others is an important aspect to staying positive but don’t forget to forgive yourself too!
As I mentioned before, this isn’t a quick check off list that leads to sunshine. Life is tough and sometimes it may seem like we’re left at the bottom of a valley and our journey is only uphill. But, with one foot after another, the journey up the mountain is well worth it. Just think of the view from the top.
+ If you have any ways that help keep you in positive spirits, please let us know in the comments!