Positivity doesn’t just grow on trees. It takes effort to be positive sometimes, especially when there are many reasons to be so negative in life.
Many blogs like this one come across as tone deaf; like negativity isn’t a natural human reaction to certain situations or it can even be caused by factors outside of our control, like mental illness. Negativity is natural, and sometimes even healthy, but constant negativity isn’t productive or conducive to healing or healthy behaviors.
There’s never going to be a time where you’re 100% positive without a mean thing to say about anything, but excess and needless negativity isn’t something we should carry around as a weight on our souls. Don’t think of these three exercises as being a way to totally get rid of negativity, but instead as a way to remove some negativity to make room for positive, healthy thoughts.
“Three Nice Things”
You’ve probably seen a similar exercise used on television or in movies. One character sick of two feuding friends will ask them to make up by saying one good thing about the other, or a therapist will suggest this as an exercise between two bickering parties.
You’re going to take things a step further. When you’re feeling unnecessary irritation towards someone, get out a notecard and write down three nice things you can think of that relate to them. This can be related to an attribute they possess (“She’s really fashion forward.”) or a memory of them that you’re fond of (“We had a fun time at the beach last summer.”).
This exercise isn’t meant to make you excuse someone of wrongdoings they’ve committed against you, but thinking positively can help you approach the situation from a more productive point of view, not one of anger or resentment.
This exercise is meant to boost your self-image. Take a sheet of notebook paper and tape it to a wall near your bed or on your bathroom mirror. Every morning, you’re tasked with writing down one positive thing about yourself or a task you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of. The trick? You can’t get out of bed/leave the room without completing the task.
You may not realize that this can be harder to accomplish than you think. Many people don’t realize their self-image is damaged until they actually ask themselves a hard question: what do I like about myself?
Finally, this positivity exercise helps bolster your mood and promotes interpersonal skills. Every day for one month, compliment a new and different person randomly. This can be 30/31 different coworkers at work, people you see in the grocery store or even people you follow on social media. These sentiments of praise should be genuine — don’t just mumble “I like your hair” to try and get out of it for the day.
This task is meant to make you focus on appreciation and paying it forward. Find something you like in someone else and tell them as such. This not only makes you feel positive, but it also promotes positivity in others as well.