Driven and ambitious – that’s me. I think I have been that way since about the time I started walking and talking. Being positive – that’s been more of a struggle. Sadly, for much of my life I have been a “glass half empty” sort of gal. I attribute my lack of positivity to my personality (D/C for those familiar with DiSC) and the environment I grew up in, and a few bad habits, but I have made changes!
I want to be positive. Lacking positivity significantly limits my influence, stifles my creativity, and keeps me stuck. Yes, stuck because my focus is on problems, rather than solutions, and whatever you focus on – that’s what grows!
Thankfully, God has strategically placed people in my life who have been powerfully positive – and not only is that wonderfully appealing, it is contagious! It has motivated me to be more positive and that’s a choice, a process. While it hasn’t happened overnight, but I am thrilled that I am moving in a positive direction! It all starts with how I see myself.
Making a difference in the lives of those around me – that’s what I love to do! One of the beauties of being more positive is that it becomes possible to make a difference.
Jon Gordon describes leadership as “a transfer of belief” in his book The Power of Positive Leadership. In other words, leaders spread their beliefs to those around them – the positive beliefs as well as the negative ones! You choose!
So if you want to influence your kids for the better, be positive. If you want to increase productivity and effectiveness of your team at work or in ministry, be positive. If you long to truly bless and help those you serve professionally or in business, be positive!
So how do you begin the process of being positive? It isn’t something you can just will to happen. It requires a change of heart, being intentional, and cultivating some new habits like these:
1. Spending time with God regularly
For years, I began my day alone with God every morning except on Saturday. That’s the day I set aside to sleep in and spend time with my family. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to deviate from my normal routine this one day, yet I struggled to have a good attitude on Saturdays. It became obvious to me that I needed that time with God to set my heart for the day.
God is the source of all things good – who better to start my day with? In His presence, I am reminded of who I am in Christ, that I am loved deeply, that there is hope, and that the Creator of the universe is for me! That’s a powerfully positive way to begin my day! And because I quickly forget – it is something I want and need to do every day!
2. Hanging on to…
Love, faith, grace, and the purpose that God’s given me – my why.
There are seasons where everything seems to be going brilliantly, and then there are seasons that seem dark where nothing positive happens and it feels like all momentum has come to a screeching halt. That’s when I need to remind myself that my purpose has not changed and it is not dependent on how things appear. Walking in my purpose is about having faith enough to obediently pursue my purpose even when I can’t see any fruit.
3. Letting go of…
Fear, anxiety, anger, un-forgiveness, and bitterness – all things that keep me spinning in a negative place and hold me back. Not only does hanging on to these feelings affect my outlook, it also adversely affects my health. Being positive is even more of a challenge when you don’t feel well!
The interesting thing about faith and fear – they both believe in a future that hasn’t happened yet. Which one you choose, faith or fear, determines your future.
4. Being aware of your words
As I have already mentioned, being positive is contagious! One of the delightfully positive people that God has placed in my life exudes positivity through her words. Her tone is warm, her words are uplifting, she is quick to offer a hug, and she makes it a point to address me as friend- treasured friend! Words are powerful!
Where’s the perfect place to start practicing those positive words? Your own self talk! Perhaps the person you are harshest and most negative with is you! And if you speak that way to yourself, there’s a good chance that’s how you will speak to others. What if you spoke to yourself and those around you as treasured friends?
Don’t underestimate the importance of words when communicating by text or email. Make an effort to communicate in writing in a warm, friendly, and positive way! Interestingly enough, even those who are outgoing, friendly, and wildly enthusiastic in person can communicate in a curt and abrupt way in writing.
5. Practicing Gratitude
Yet another positive way to use your words: practicing gratitude! There are several ways you can practice gratitude:
- Sharing with others what you are grateful for in the moment as you go through your day.
- Taking a gratitude walk; a pleasantly paced 10 minute walk (or longer) while saying out loud all the things you are thankful for.
- Keep a gratitude journal; write down 5 things you are thankful for every day.
6. Looking in the mirror
It is easy to shift the responsibility for being negative to those around you – your kids, your team, the organization, etc. The truth is that you alone are responsible for what you present to the world. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to experience YOU? What if you were to look in the mirror and honestly answer these questions?
- What’s it like to be around you – not just in your good moments, but in those moments you are not so proud of as well?
- How positive are you?
- What keeps you from being optimistic?
- How deeply do you believe in the purpose, goals, etc. that you are pursuing?
- Positivity and negativity are both contagious. What’s spreading around you?
As a leader, or in life, it is impossible to give to others what you don’t possess yourself!
7. Identifying my positivity zappers
We all have them in our lives – negative people, or “energy vampires” as Jon Gordon calls them; people who suck the life out of you and drag you down. Nobody needs that! Remember… attitudes are contagious!
You would be surprised how this little habit affects your attitude! And while you are at it, check your posture as well! How you carry yourself also impacts your attitude. Smile. Stand up straight. Watch how these small physical changes contribute to a more positive you.
Just for the record, being positive is not about denying your negative emotions. That’s repression. Being positive is about acknowledging your negative feelings, getting clear about what’s behind those feelings, seeing the opportunity to make positive changes, and making the choice to view hardships in a positive way.
As you seek to be more positive you will inevitably encounter negative thoughts along the way. When you do, play a little game with yourself. For each negative thought, challenge yourself to come up with two positive thoughts to counter your negative thoughts.
A positive person has tremendous influence! Their winsome ways have the potential to change the world!
How would a more positive you make a difference not only in your life, but in the lives of those you have the opportunity to influence?
© Can Stock Photo / yupiramos