How can I inject positivity into the world?
Updated: Mar 5
As the world moves from one major challenge to the next, it’s understandable that you might be feeling a range of negative emotions. You might feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, stressed, scared or helpless. While we as individuals may not be able to fix the problems we see in the world, we can still have a positive impact on it; on ourselves, on those around us and on those we can reach through our actions. And it starts by building a positive mindset.
What is a Positive Mindset?
First of all, I feel it’s important to address this fundamental question, as it’s quite possible that just the term itself might turn some people away. A positive mindset is not constantly running around telling everyone how wonderful the world is and that everything is fine when things are clearly falling apart around you. It is not being outwardly enthusiastic all the time and telling everyone else to smile or cheer up because life is great. This kind of positivity might be termed ‘toxic positivity’.
For me, a positive mindset is looking for solutions, learning and opportunities in all situations. It is acknowledging the reality of a situation but choosing to seek a positive response. It is intentionally looking for ways to have a positive influence on your own situation and, if you choose to, on others and on the situation around you. It is about holding on to hope and believing that good will come, and taking actions within your control to help deliver it.
Negative Emotions and the Positive Mindset
Even if you have developed a positive mindset, it will still be challenged by events such as those we are currently seeing in the world and those we have lived through in recent times. In fact, it would be somewhat extreme to suggest that you would not have felt any negative emotion in the face of a pandemic, war, climate change, failures of leadership and many other such events. Having a positive mindset does not mean an absence of negative thoughts. It is learning to acknowledge, intercept and shift away from those negative emotions so you can move to clear, focused, positive action. And by building your mental fitness, you can accelerate the speed of this shift.
I was listening to Shirzad Chamine, the leader of the Positive Intelligence organisation who developed the mental fitness coaching methods I use both personally and in my coaching work. Shirzad is a firm believer that we shouldn’t ignore negative emotions. By raising our self-awareness we can become more aware of them and what causes or triggers them, and the PQ operating system of Positive Intelligence encourages us to use negative emotions as an alert system. Much like having your hand on a hot stove, that pain is useful but only for a second as an alert that tells you to move.
Shirzad encouraged us to feel the outrage at the events that are happening, but to use your outrage as an alert signal. If everyone being affected by negativity chooses to intentionally counter it with an act of positivity, the amount of positivity will far outweigh the negativity that is happening.
What can I do?
We can all take positive actions that are within our control, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential they may be. A positive interaction, which can either be related and completely unrelated to the issue that caused your negative reaction, could be as simple as smiling at a stranger or engaging in a short conversation with someone. It can lift your morale and theirs, which in turn could result in them positively influencing someone else. Just as negativity spreads, so does positivity.
I am inspired by actions that people take every day, so here are some of the things I have done to help me face recent challenges that could otherwise make me feel helpless or overwhelmed.
When Covid hit, we became part of a closer-knit community with our neighbours via a Facebook support group. Just small actions like offering to get shopping for each other or sharing supplies when people ran out lifted our morale. We had regular Zoom calls with family to stay in touch. My wife and I ran a weekly quiz on Facebook Live as a way of keeping in contact with friends and family. It gave us all an hour of fun on a Sunday night and something to look forward to. Over the past year I’ve had vaccinations in an effort to reduce the impact and spread of the virus. And I’ve developed my learning and experience in coaching through taking courses, engaging with other coaches through video calls and delivering programmes that have had a positive impact on the lives of my clients. None of these actions solved the overall problem or changed the world, but it helped me to know that I have taken actions within my control to make a positive contribution during a challenging time.
Similarly, you might be feeling helpless about the conflict in Ukraine. As well as being able to donate to organisations like the Red Cross, my social media feeds have been flooded with people who are collecting supplies for those affected. These will often be delivered by people who have no connection to Ukraine, but who simply want to help. Collections are being inundated with supplies and some are even closing early because so many people want to support them. It is this humanity in the dark and challenging times that brings hope that the greater good will prevail, and which gives us some way of making a positive difference to the situation, no matter how small it may seem.
It is this same mindset that has been so inspiring in the Ukrainian people – they weren’t prepared for war but the determination and courage of people from all walks of life to stand together to fight for their freedom and do whatever they can to support and protect their families, their community and their country has been a shining beacon in the conflict to date.
What will you do?
It should be said that putting yourself first is a perfectly valid thing to do, and the idea of putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others springs to mind. Whether you perceive you are influencing others or not, your actions will be noticed by family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and even social media followers. Therefore, looking after yourself first and foremost is vital for your own health, and becoming more positive in yourself can still influence others. In addition, as those around you experience negative reactions to events, your kindness, care and generosity can help to shift their experience and their mindset. How far you go is your decision.
So which actions are you able to take now? If you want to see something different happening, how will you be the change you wish to see in the world?
If you would like to discuss how you can build your mental fitness and positive mindset to gain peace of mind, increase your confidence, and improve your wellbeing and productivity, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.