Day 1,655,800 into 2020 or at least it feels like it. It’s hard to look at what’s already right when all around just seems so wrong.
It’s so easy to look at what isn’t working like a global pandemic we are exhausted of, economic collapse, remote learning, racial injustice, no childcare, no pants Wednesday, no pants Thursday…what day is it? This is sadly our reality these days. As a new mom again, but to twins this time around, I surely feel like I’m on another planet.
Each day, I’m reminded of what isn’t working. Like that my 5yr old will never know what it’s like to experience kindergarten-the kindergarten where you eat lunch in a cafeteria, you don’t have virtual homework uploads and playtime is actually on a playground. Or that I have to put on a mask every time I leave my house, call Bath and Body Works ahead to make sure my favorite scented hand sanitizer is in stock…or hell, not be price gauged for freakin’ Lysol wipes!
Our reality is plain bizarro at this time and we need to start looking at what is already right around us so we can shift our priorities to focus on that instead of the constant stream of content garbage of what is wrong in the world right now. Let’s go!
It Could be Worse:
The inspirational quote today is said by Dr. Martin Seligman, the “Doctor of Positive Psychology.” While most psychological studies focused primarily on what was wrong, he shifted the focus to study the positives in people and how they respond, which was a game-changer in psychological research history. He’s found that most people who experience negativity over time develop what is called “learned helplessness” and are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and a general negative mindset.
When you are feeling more on a negative side, I encourage you to think “How could this be worse?”-it will help shift your thoughts to see that your current circumstance may actually be better than what could be. You’d be surprised how many people cannot do this!
When I coach adults, most of them think whatever negativity they are experiencing is the worst, when in reality there are many worse things that could happen with the right imagination…
When I was a therapist, I was working with a teenage boy who when I asked what would be worse than being dumped responded “Well, it could be a zombie apocalypse, my brains could be eaten, or worse I could be turned into a zombie and never have the opportunity to fall in love again.” Now that’s a breakthrough! …and a lot of imagination.
It’s like going back to the ol’ question of “is the glass half empty or half full?” Which one are you? Or does it change depending on the circumstance, who’s involved, or what the outcome is?
Your mindset is more important than your thoughts themselves because it sets a foundation for how you feel, the choices you make, and how you respond to your environment.
Mindset is everything.
When we look at something or judge someone from a negative place, it doesn’t leave room for other avenues of thought. Negativity shuts us down, blocks us in, and quite frankly kills off possibilities. If this sounds like you or someone you know, don’t worry, there is hope!
Shifting mindset is something that can be learned over time. It requires persistence, patience, and being able to change your focus from what is wrong to what is right.
What is Already Right:
So what actually is already right when all feels so wrong?
You have to be able to:
1. See how it could be worse
2. Look at the positives of a negative situation
3. Elevate the positives in. your favor
Let’s use the easy example of not feeling safe to eat out at your favorite restaurant:
1. Ways this could be worse: Your restaurant could have closed due to financial loss right now
2. Look at the positives: The restaurant is still open and offering takeout options. You are saving money on tips and alcohol by not eating in the restaurant. You are helping a small business survive. You can eat your favorite food in your pajamas at home. You are limiting your exposure to possibly infected people.
3. Elevate the positives: You light a candle when you eat your meal so it feels a little more like eating in the restaurant. You pair your meal with a wine you cannot buy in the restaurant that tastes delicious. You post a positive review on yelp about their curbside pickup option so more people eat there and you get to keep going back!
Making it Better:
Remember, mindset is everything.
We need to start looking at what is already right instead of focusing on what is wrong, negative, or not working. When we dwell on the negative, it keeps us farther from being able to see the light, the positive, and the ability to make that better.
I know right now is tough. Look around and try to see the positives. Like having more time with your family, being able to do your laundry and work at the same time, not commuting, etc.
There’s a lot already right around you. Now go back that better and leave the negative behind!
If you are interested in learning more about positive psychology, check out these books by Dr. Seligman: