Mental health experts, life coaches, and motivational speakers all tell us that there’s only one secret to happiness: positive thinking. They say that optimism benefits our mind, body, soul, and even our goals. The more we believe that we can get what we want, the more likely we’ll attract it.
But the positive thinking fanfare has been receiving criticism recently. Social media, particularly Twitter, raised the topic of “toxic positivity”, a mindset that tends to invalidate someone’s struggles with the mask of optimism. Mental health advocates believe that hardships and unhappiness cannot be cured by positive thinking alone. Words such as “don’t give up” or “it could be worse” are also deemed unhelpful to a vulnerable person, because it refuses to acknowledge how much they’re actually suffering.
But dwelling on negative thoughts is no better. While it’s crucial to address a troubling situation, thinking that you’re hopeless won’t do anything to solve it. So how can you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones without being toxic to yourself?
First off, don’t view positive thinking as a band-aid solution to stress or any other difficulty. When you encounter a problem or face your triggers, practice self-awareness first instead of optimism. Once you’ve realized what sets you on edge, you can take control of your responses better. And that’s when you can start building up habits that will feed your thoughts with non-toxic positivity.
Without further ado, here are the calm activities that’ll help you do just that:
1. Take Steps to Loving Yourself
Loving yourself is a continuous process, not an end goal that you achieve after self-care and optimistic rituals. In fact, self-love is a combination of compassion for yourself, self-acceptance, and self-care.
Your path to loving yourself is obstructed by the belief that you are not good enough. This is a negative thought that many people tend to carry. With social media showing us the achievement of our peers, their fit bodies, amazing travels, and such, we can’t help but feel like we’re missing out or lacking something that keeps us stuck wherever we are.
But social media isn’t reality. Your friends’ posts are just fragments of their whole lives. Getting what they want doesn’t mean that they’re better or more deserving than you. So instead of tormenting yourself with self-deprecating thoughts, tell yourself that you’re worthy of everything you desire, just like everyone else. Focus on your strengths and the things you applaud yourself for. Write them down if it would help.
2. Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
Laugh. Invite humor into your life. The world already has enough problems that dampen our spirits. So seize every chance to laugh. Be open to humor in all situations, including difficult ones. It’s not toxic positivity if it won’t offend or harm anybody. Laughing instantly brightens your mood and makes life feel more manageable. Even if you’re not in the best mood, try to cheer up yourself with laughter, still. Sometimes, even pretending to laugh can reduce your stress.
3. Entertain Yourself With Inspirational Media
Many people tend to make themselves sadder when they’re already feeling somber. It could be because of a breakup, an issue in the family, or a falling-apart with a close friend. While listening to sad songs or watching films about your struggle can make you feel less lonely, it can also drown you in your sorrows further.
Try to get out of your head by finding media that resonates with you more, but gives you hope in the end. Avoid media with violence, because it can spark anger in you. It’s alright to watch or read something about trials, but if triggers more negative feelings, don’t push yourself to see it through. Distract yourself with laughter instead, and feel your stress recede.
4. Make it a Routine to Spend Time in Nature
If your home lacks a livable outdoor space, this is your sign to call a trusted decking contractor in your area. Every home should have an outdoor retreat that will calm the mind when it gets overwhelmed. You can also use the space to meditate, do yoga, or read a book. Spending time outdoors also encourages you to try gardening, or to interact with wildlife. Your backyard can be visited by dragonflies, bees, butterflies, and birds, too. Connecting with nature allows you to realize that no matter how big your struggles are, the world still has many beautiful things to offer.
5. Engage in Positive Self-talk
Apart from “I’m not good enough” many people also tend to tell themselves “I can’t do it”. It’s their automatic response when they’re faced with a daunting challenge.
If you also think the same way often, remind yourself that you are your own worst critic. Therefore, you are also the person most capable of encouraging yourself. So, amend your deprecating words with “It’s difficult, but I’ll try.” This small change can influence the way you deal with challenges, and make a big difference in your overall mindset.