In a world where there’s doom and gloom around every corner, on more and more faces, in more of what people say. It seems to become harder and harder to keep a positive mindset and to keep positivity in the workplace but there is always more we can do to help ourselves and others around us.
The word problem is such a negative word to use in a sentence. Negativity spurs a chemical called cortisol to flow through our brains and our brains love a bit of cortisol, which is why it is very difficult to shake our minds off negative thoughts.
Cortisol is a vital chemical that is released to warn you of impending danger as it gets the body prepared. This can be brought on by some kind of confrontation, something not quite going to plan at work and fear of the resultant future. It can cause anxiety, depression, memory and concentration issues, even heart attack.
Now when have we ever performed our best when all of that is going on? It doesn’t happen. We make mistakes, we have lapses in judgement and we can make the situation worse if our mental state isn’t right.
So what can we do? How do we stop the flow of that pesky cortisol chemical to our brains in these moments?
1. Change negative words into positive words
Firstly we need to turn it from danger into something positive. Any problem is an opportunity to learn, it may even be more than that, a problem maybe something that’s been holding you or your company back that you never knew was there. It could be that bad habit you have that stopped a relationship growing with a peer you never realised you had, it could be something you have started eating that is adversely affecting your mood or even an employee that you didn’t realise was sabotaging a process from improving.
So In that case, are they really problems if we can see these instances as opportunities to grow and learn? What a much better word and positive outlook on the situation. Just by changing the language from problem to opportunity is a start and it will set a chain reaction off in and around you.
Looking at bad situations as opportunities and changing that instant negative mindset will allow for lower stress levels, it can give you a much clearer mindset and bring in better analytical thinking leading to much more positive outcomes. You and people around you will actively be learning better skills and gaining invaluable experience. It can help with communication and in turn, create much better relationships and most important of all it is much better for your health.
Now I’m not saying this is just as easy that changing the word problem into opportunity, it is much more than that. God knows to this day I still have overwhelming moments where my stress gets the better of me and I find it extremely difficult to get into that positive mind frame. But I am also self aware enough to know when this happens, I know the negative impact and negative ripples which occur as a result. But changing that word allows you to start the train of thought that is going to lead you to much more positive frame of mind. To change your mindset that instead of stress some kind of development or innovation will now occur.
2. Don’t worry about failure, it leads to success
You must be clear in your mind that you’ve been here before and you will be here after, you’ve experienced countless negative experiences or failures but the point is you are still there, you still have your health and are still able to see situations as opportunities. What I am trying to say is look at what you’ve learned, it’s a positive because it’s more experience.
When we first experience a negative situation or failure, the cortisol leads us on a train of thought that brings out worse case scenarios, we then start to process them as realities and that’s when panic and stress starts to set in. Before that negativity compounds itself. Stop! Sometimes you may feel like you are experiencing the same bad situation time and time again but I promise it will lead to success. There’s another positive word success.
‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.‘ – Thomas Edison
Success and experience do not come without failure, whether it’s something you are directly in control of or not. You will fail, you will fail again, then will will start to gain the experience ready for success. So these situations you keep experiencing are steps to success.
Think about it. Did you start riding a bike at the first time of asking? No, you fell off, you fell off again, you fell off again and then as if by magic you were riding a bike with no stabilisers. You might have even been riding for 30 years and fell off but you know how to ride a bike, you are confident and you get back on your bike and go again. It’s the same for all situations you become better at dealing with them. Now isn’t that something positive to think about?
If you can think like this and believe you will be okay in the long run this will lead to a more positive outcome, this will breed confidence and what does confidence breed? More confidence. There’s another positive word confidence.
3. Make humour from the negative situation
Now if you’re in a lucky enough position to even be able to make humour out of the situation then go for it. Appreciating that these moments come few and far between but make as much light of the situation as possible.
It is scientifically proven that there are many different benefits of laughter :
- Lowers stress and heart rate
- Boosts the immune system
- Decreases pain
- Relieves anxiety
- Improves mood
- Reduces cortisol levels
- Releases endorphins
- Positive relationship building
- Helps conflict resolution
- Attracts others
Remember the film Patch Adams starring Robin Williams? It’s a true story based on American physician Patch Adams who believed so strongly of humour for medical purposes, that he wanted to integrate a traditional medicine based hospital with social humour and educational systems as a way to better treat patients. Adams went on to successfully treat thousands of patients with his philosophy.
If you can do all of the above you can start working towards making humour of the situation. Laughter not only reduces the amount of cortisol it also releases chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals give us a range of positive effects. Stress levels are reduced, motivation and attention are enhanced, we are in a much better mood and a much better place.
Tips to introduce humour :
- Share the situation with your peers
- Think of a crazy funny result from the situation
- Search for a funny meme on the internet from a similar situation
- Laugh at yourself – will this really matter in a year’s time?
None of this will come first time of asking. It’s not a valve you can just turn off in your brain to stop the cortisol from flowing in allowing you to think positive thoughts.
This, like anything I write about, takes time, it takes dedication. It’s just like any other activity. You want to become an expert? You practice, practice, practice. Once you think you’ve mastered it, keep practising.
So, if you try it once or twice and it’s not working, remember this is not a switch, it’s a muscle you need to train and the more you train it the stronger, or more positive you will be.
Try to change your language and turn those negative words into positive words. Know that you’ve been in negative situations before and you are still here reading this blog searching for the positivity. Success very rarely comes without failure and you can make humour out of a situation. Bring these things together, try, try and try again and eventually your mindset will change to a positive one and I don’t need to tell you again all the benefits of that.
It would be great to hear your thoughts on how you keep a positive mindset. So please leave a comment below.
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