Stop Dwelling on the Negative
Have you ever met a person who had such positive energy that you found your own mood changed? Does it seem like you gravitate towards people who have respect for themselves and don’t allow others to talk down to them? If so, you aren’t alone. Most people are drawn towards others who have a positive attitude.
But what if you are the type of person who dwells on the negative? If this characteristic describes you, has it had the effect of driving other people away? Finally, is there anything you can do to create positive change?
It turns out the answer is yes and the pathway to change might be easier than you think.
According to research, negative thoughts – including memories – have a more profound imprint on the mind than we once thought. In fact, it can be easier to recall negative experiences more than the positive. The reasons are still being studied but behavioral scientists think it has something to do with brain chemistry.
Here’s a quote from an article appearing in the New York Times about this topic that might resonate with you.
“You are more upset about losing $50.00 than you are happy about gaining $50.00”
And so it turns out that all of us may be hardwired to dwell on the negative because the intensity of the bad experience is thought to be a mental platforms for learning.
So how is it that some people have learned to not wallow in their own crap and focus on what’s good in life? What can you learn from these individuals that can be adapted and adjusted for your personal plan for change?
We’ve got 5 quick tips that may be helpful to you that are based on a body of research.
1. Acknowledge that you think way too much
When something negative happens, do you continually play the tape in your mind – over and over again until it makes you sick? Are you super sensitive to criticism, even when it is given to you in the form of positive feedback? If you are shaking your head yes in response to these questions, maybe it’s time for you to create mindful distance from your thoughts.
In a practical sense, this means acknowledging you have a negative thought but not dwelling on it! A great way to train yourself to create distance from what you are thinking so that it doesn’t derail you is meditation. You can do this anytime you want and don’t need to be a Zen master to make it happen. Just head over to Spotify or Youtube and punch in “positive meditation”. You might be surprised as what comes up!
As an aside, megawatt celebs Chris Evans and Jared Leto are both known to live mindful lives. Can anyone argue these two men aren’t successful?
2. Find distractions
If you keep returning back to the same mental themes that have a negative overtone, it might be time to engage in the art of distraction. Some practical suggestions on this front include going out for a coffee with friends or heading outdoors for a walk.
Believe it or not, a change of mental scenery can sometimes be enough to pull your head out of a negative spiral. No need to do anything dramatic under this point, like going on an expensive vacation. The idea is to do something different that jars your mind out of its ruminating ways.
3. Focus on the here and now
One of the major reasons negative thinking sets in and starts to permeate our outlook is focusing too much on the past – usually through dark lenses. Rather than allow yourself to ruminate on “the bad”, consider living in the moment. This is a key component of people who live with a positive mindset.
Using your five senses, ask yourself what you are aware of at this very moment in time. For example, do you see something pleasant? What do you feel when you listen to your favorite song? How might you react if you tasted food that brings you pleasure? You get the idea. When we live in the here and now, it is hard to get sucked into the past.
4. Focus on self-care
One of the major attributes you will pick up on with guys who have a positive outlook is their strong ability to engage in self-care. All this really means is listening to your body and not getting yourself stressed out by pushing yourself to the limits.
Practical suggestions on this front include giving yourself a beauty night or pampering yourself with a new shampoo. One of the guys we like to follow a lot on this blog is Chris Evans. Can anyone argue he doesn't take care of himself?
5. Recognize that what you are feeling is not forever
This final point is designed to help you understand that whatever you are going through right now is not forever. It may feel that way but as the old saying goes – time marches on. This means that whatever situation you are working through right now will resolve itself.
Knowing that what we are experiencing at this moment in time won’t last for eternity can be helpful with changing your outlook. Sometimes, just repeating the old mantra, “This too will pass” can be just enough to wedge yourself out of a bad mood and catapult into a different mental place.
Summing Things Up
If you are looking for more practical ways to avoid dwelling on the past and adopt a more positive mindset, consider picking up a copy of the book: Happiness by Shawn Achor.
Inside, you will find page after page of meaningful insight designed to help transform your outlook towards something new.
And who knows – you might turn into that guy with the positive mindset that you are so attracted to!