“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill
Are there some people you know that like a good “moan fest”? Many of us have an aversion to whiners who complain about their lives, jobs and circumstances. Hanging around with a “Debbie Downer” is just no fun. We all run into troubles in life and need to vent and problem solve. However, there are some people who always see the problem in every good idea or situation.
We cannot be perky and upbeat all the time. Maybe my approach to dealing with problems is not everyone’s cup of tea. When faced with bad circumstances I often withdraw and run on radio silence until I can develop a positive perspective. I do not like to inflict myself on others when I am full on upset, confused or down.
If we stay focused on the negative, we will stay stuck and miss opportunities to move forward. The question is how do we do get positive? As tempting as booze, drugs or other escapist activities seem, our own brain and our thoughts are the most powerful elixir.
Here are some tips to turning the frown upside down:
- Acknowledge your problem – It is inevitable that bad things happen in our lives and that they throw us off our game. When we face a problem head on and do not deny it – this is the first step in moving ahead.
- Don’t let what you can’t do – stop you from doing what you can do. – When bad things happen, and you can’t do certain things, think about what you can do. For example if you are upset about your health and want to lose weight and you just don’t have time to exercise for 1 hour a day because of other commitments, try half an hour a day. Doing what we are able to do in a circumstance is better than doing nothing.
- Find the positive – it is cliché, but in every cloud there is a silver lining. Maybe it is not obvious immediately. However, if you are open to seeing the shine when it appears, something positive will come your way through each experience. It might be someone you meet.
- Count Your Blessings – sometimes when things are bad, it can help us to name all the things we are grateful for that will sustain us during our bad time. Maybe it is the people around us. Maybe it is the home that we have, the community we live in or the positive things about ourselves that we appreciate.
- Ask for Help – so often in life when we need help, others are willing to support us. Ask others to listen, get professional counselling if you are able. If you are ill or otherwise unable to do all you need to do – ask for help with meal preparation, household chores or help with your children.
- Focus on What you can learn – in each experience we have the chance to learn something new. Has your latest challenge helped you learn more about city services, the law or project management? How can you put your learning into practice in the future? How can you use what you have learned to help others?
- Carry On – sometimes we get fixated on our problem and stop doing other things. Many people who are experiencing illness or other problems find keeping busy and active gives them less time to stew and hyper-focus on their problem.
- Don’t play the Blame Game – when we blame others for what has happened to us or the circumstances we are in, we spend a lot of wasted energy. Blaming others does not solve the problem. It can make us more stressed, angry and ill when we focus on the negative.
- Look for Humour – Dr. Lee Berk, a neuroscientist in the US suggests that humour is a tool to help us achieve health and wellness in our lives. If we allow ourselves to see the humour in a situation, we create gamma waves in our brain, which are the same waves created during mediation. Gamma waves help us problem solve, synthesis information, find patterns and creatively develop solutions.
We do not always have a choice in what we experience in life. We are dealt many cards that we do not expect. We do have a choice in how we respond to our problems. Choose to be positive.