How to be more positive when negativity is your comfort zone

I can be, at times, quite a negative person.  I always assume the worst and tend to focus on the bad and for a long time, I thought this was a normal state of mind to be in.  It turns out, that being on the look out for the bad things in life can actually make your life quite bad.  This sounds obvious, right? Well, apparently not.

I only really started to notice this when I met Mark.  He is such a happy person, so much so that I would say, and he would agree, that he actively avoids and ignores negativity as much as he can.  As a result, his life is relatively drama free.  I don’t know anyone that has a bad word to say about him and he doesn’t seem to be affected by things like stress, bad health in any way or the little nagging thoughts that I seem to get all day, every day.

When you are in the presence of someone so happy, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay negative yourself and I started to slowly look at why I seemed to have it worse than Mark.  Sure our backgrounds and life experiences are very, very different, but most of those things are in the past and now that we’re blending our lives together, surely they should start to run down a more similar path?

For example, Mark would ask me how my day was and I would notice that I would always give him a list of all the bad things I’d noticed in my day, but when I asked him the same question, he would tell me little stories about how all the little achievements and good things that had filled his day meant he was in a great mood.  More and more I started to notice that my days were always worse than Mark’s……but why?

So, I decided to try an experiment.  I started to try and find 5 things that had been good to tell Mark about when he picked me up.  I found that by the time he picked me up, I not only had more than five things to tell him, but I felt like I’d had a good day and my mood transferred onto Mark and we had an awesome little evening.

Hmmm, I thought.  Maybe today was just a good day.  So I continued with this test, each day ignoring the bad and only looking to remember the good and I found that I had more days where I felt able to cope with what happened as I worked, or shopped, or cooked dinner or whatever it was I was doing.

I wanted to take this one step further.  I go to a ladies networking luncheon once a month and one of the other members, a lady called Sophie Jewry, swears by her gratitude diary.  Every day she writes down things she is grateful for, even if it is just the roof above her head, or a smile from a stranger.  I should mention I am also a bit of a cynic when it comes to ‘positive vibes’ and ‘spreading the love’, so I will admit I felt very silly sat with my little diary, looking for things to be grateful for.  My first entry was simple:

“I am grateful for Gin and Mark”

Lovely.  But as time went on, I started to find more and more things to be grateful for and the weird thing is, once you start looking and thinking about these great little things in your life, you start to FEEL grateful and positive in yourself and this then starts to spill out into your life.

For example, I used to moan and moan about people that left shit tips in my restaurant, my shift would then be awful and I would look at every table not as individual customers but as a whole unit of people that are all out to not tip me.  And of course my attitude towards these people would be indifferent and aloof and in return my tips would quite rightly suffer.

Before one particularly unwanted shift, I decided to write

“I am grateful for the tips my customers leave me,  no matter how small because every penny helps”

That shift I came home with £40 in my apron.  The same the following night and the one after and to this day, I am happy to say that my attitude has changed, my tips have increased and I no longer look forward to a shift with dread.  I’m actually happy to be going (if I ignore how tired I am anyway) and am more interested in the people I might meet that night rather than what is on my tip tray when they leave.

I used to suffer with stress, which meant I struggled to sleep through the night, would over think every situation and would be prone to IBS flare ups at least once a week.

Now, I find my head is clearer, I sleep better and I have maybe one flare up every 2 months.  I’ve started exercising; running mostly, and healthy eating and have given up smoking after 18 years.  I look at people and situations differently and as a result find that people have started to look at me differently.

Sure, I still get bad days, we all do, where I hate all people and myself and the world.  But my life is starting to take a massive turn in a better direction and this is something I am most definitely grateful for.

I used to be moody and sarcastic, and found a dark humor in bad situations; now I look back and feel a little sorry for myself.  Of course bad things happen that we have no control over, but I am now a firm believer in the thought that it is YOUR attitude towards that situation that dictates what hold it has over your life and your feelings.

I never thought I would be one of those people that talked about positive vibes, but I genuinely think that that has to be better than moping around under a little grey cloud and complaining all the time!

So, here is my list of ways to become a positive thinker:

1. Appreciate the good in every day

2. Start a gratitude diary and look back at it on days where you can’t seem to shake of the little grey cloud

3. Spread some love. Whether its a phone call, or a smile when you make eye contact with a stranger you never know how such a little action can make someone elses day change

4. Where possible, ignore the bad. Don’t let little niggles determine how you feel about the rest of the day

5. Remove toxic and negative people from your life UNLESS you can help them to move forward and be happy

If you have any suggestions on how to help make your day more positive I’d love to know 🙂

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