Many of you who are reading this article try to live a positive life and surround yourself with positive people and think positive thoughts. But what happens when something apparently bad hits you—whether in your finances, your health, or your relationships? All that positivity can slip through your fingers very quickly.
Abandoning a positive attitude can be exactly what will lock in the hardship. So how can one stay positive through tough times?
1. Live in the Moment
Oh, how cliché. That’s what everyone says. But guess what? When you eliminate obsessing over the past and feeling regret, it takes a big burden from your shoulders. And when you resist trying to predict the future, the anxiety of the unknown fades away. In this moment you are fully alive. It is important to march moment by moment, taking slow deliberate steps and not think too much where they are leading. For if those steps are deliberate, confident, and bold chances are your current challenges will be only memories when the moments add up to the future.
2. Daily Magic
It’s very natural to lose faith when things aren’t going your way. “Dr. Charles, I used to believe in God, but now I don’t know about that. My life is not as blessed as others. If there was a God, he wouldn’t let me be in the mess I’m in.” Whether your faith was in a supernatural power, a source energy, God, or your inner strength, when something goes wrong in your life it is the default reaction of our brain to doubt any previous beliefs. That is precisely when noticing the little coincidences that occur in your daily life—what I call Daily Magic, become so important to recognize. Look for them every day and write them down in a journal. You may be someone else’s Daily Magic, so write that down also. Look for these and ask others to share theirs with you. This can help reaffirm something larger going on beyond our physical senses.
3. Keep the Small Window Open
When we awaken each morning, there is a small window of time in which we forget that something is wrong. When that window closes, our brain quickly reminds us of the danger we are in. While that window is open, ask yourself, “What am I going to do today, to celebrate life?” With your eyes closed, visualize yourself smiling and happy. Keep the window open as long as you can. You can do this by completing the sentences of fearful thoughts. For example, “You’re going to lose your house,” you may think. Keeping the window open will help calm you. And finishing the sentence like this can help do so, “You’re going to lose your house…yes I will lose my house, if I believe that there is nothing I can do. But since I am resourceful and strong, I will always find a way and a way will always find me.”
4. Avoid Defining Yourself By Your Challenges
Thinking of yourself as the jilted lover or divorcee, or the cancer patient, or a fool with his money will lock in a self-opinion that will have your brain pushing you in the direction to prove yourself right. These self-definitions can become concrete realities instead of temporary challenges from which you might even learn and come out better. However, when you dig your heals into a financial challenge, or diagnosis, or breakup, you cut off any chance at moving on and creating a better future.
5. Be Choosy With Whom You Share
A cynical friend once said to me, “Don’t complain to anyone. They either couldn’t care less or they’re glad it’s not them. Although a cynical outlook, if you understand the dynamic of our primitive nature controlled by our automatic brain (see Brain Drain), you will understand that your vulnerability can sometimes be the best thing to happen (unconsciously) to someone else. As the saying goes, ‘Misery loves company’. Not that they will act on it or do something to harm you, but many people will end up making comments or giving advice that is more about their insecurity than yours. There will be some who will genuinely care and even be able to help, but you must be choosy to know who they are.
6. Live Healthy
When faced with a challenge, the stress can cause you to say, “Screw it!” And this often leads to unhealthy and sometimes self-destructive behaviors. Despite the challenge, it’s crucial to eat well, continue exercising, and avoiding potentially harmful substances. Focusing on staying strong can foster confidence and open your mind up to potential solutions.
7. Daily Affirmations
Declare each day that, “While I am still alive, I plan to live the best life I can.” Or, as I wrote above, “I will always find a way and a way will always find me.” Make up your own affirmations or look to social media for them. “Like” only positive pages on Facebook or other social media outlets.
8. Meditate or Pray Every Day
Connect with your inner guidance. It is my belief that our mind is the gateway to our pure potential, our personal power, our divine nature, what I believe to be God. You may or may not believe in God, or you may have a very strict definition of who or what your God is. It matters not. An acceptance that there are realities and truths outside what our brains can comprehend and what our five senses can appreciate is enough to open the possibility of the inexplicable. With this possibility comes eternal hope. As my favorite quote goes, “When we pray we speak to God. When we meditate, God speaks to us.” Start speaking to and listening to that inner guidance. You will begin to find a way out.
9. Smile, Laugh, & Breathe
No matter how down in the dumps you are, hold yourself high and make yourself smile and laugh as much as possible. When we are stressed our automatic brain causes us to fight or flee, which causes our breathing to become shallower. Making sure you control your breathing—slow breaths in for a count of four to six, hold for a count of two, and let out for a count of four to six—will trigger a relaxation response and cool the stress reaction. Make sure to check your face, often. When you are driving in the care, look at your face in the rearview mirror and if your mouth is down, smile it up!
10. Avoid the News and Talk Radio
People are attracted to drama and that is exactly what the News and Talk Radio aims to deliver. But such drama can help you dig into your hopelessness.
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