How Positive is Positivity?

Positivity is a word that evokes mixed feelings.

It stirs a little hopefulness, giving a slight uptick in mood, but it leaves the unpleasant aftertaste of a cliché.

Most of us have at least tried to embrace some kind of positivity in our thinking, but it soon fades with the distractions of daily life and the shadow of worry.

Is positivity a sham?

Is it a call to ignore reality?

Is it just for those gurus of self-improvement who also happen to be very wealthy and attractive?

There are probably as many definitions of positivity as there are people to offer them and to be fair I do not consider mine any more special than another.

But I can say as someone who surely has mixed feeling about the term, the way I view positivity now is much more helpful to me than how I understood it in times past.

I used to think of positivity as focusing only on the good things in life or being annoyingly energetic. I like to think of myself as a realist, and positivity always seemed like a means of ignoring the full picture.

But lately, I have latched on to a different view of positivity, one that does not ask me to ignore anything—focusing on options.

I face challenges every day, as do you, and positivity does not ask me to look the other way.

In fact, it asks me to look directly at what is challenging or troublesome, but specifically the part within my control.

It asks me to turn toward my options in a situation rather than to what I cannot change. For example, I cannot change that I received an email that frustrated me, but I can choose to focus my attention on the “now what” instead of the “ugh” feeling.

It may help to think of positivity as forward motion.

Positivity does not ask us to look past our negative feelings, the “ugh,” the disappointment, or the fear that can suddenly arise in response to a challenge.

It does not ask us to ignore or pretend anything.

It simply offers a reminder that we can choose to spend most of our conscious thinking on what can be done vs. what cannot.

Focusing on options provokes us to action, uplifts our hearts, and gives our brains a target for our energy and innovative spirits.

It may be worth a try.

If you would like to work on harnessing negative feelings that may be holding you back, consider giving us a call. 615-591-5262. 

Written by Refuge Center Masters Level Intern Daryn Thompson.