When Life Gives Us Lemons
It is very hard sometimes to be positive in such a negative world. We are bombarded with negativity. It seems our culture and the world now thrives on negativity. I experienced the impact of negativity this week. At the beginning of my week I was positively energetic. My week started off on a good note when I participated in the New York Nurse Practitioner Association Capital Day advocating for two legislation bills at the state capital. I was feeling energized and excited about all the progress I had been making to open my nurse practitioner clinic. I was starting to see the results of all of the hundreds of hours of research and networking come together. It seemed the fruit of my labors were finally starting to bud!
And then… I experienced an intense negative interaction with someone who is not supportive of my goal to open up my own nurse practitioner clinic. The negative energy was so toxic it was like a hurricane whipping through my world and within a few minutes my confidence seemed to disappear. I was surprised this experience affected me so much. I have encountered negative people before. Negative people surround us. I was surprised how this incident of negativity seemed to affect my mental, spiritual, and physical health. Doubt and self-worth crept in with no warning.
I have had a goal to open my own nurse practitioner clinic for almost 10 years. I am a planner. For 10 years I have contemplated, researched, assessed, and now finally initiating. It has taken 10 years, mixed with all of my life experiences, to conquer my fears and start the planning process of opening my own clinic. The consequence of that brief but yet very negative interaction was so infectious that my confidence was derailed. I began to question my goals of opening a nurse practitioner clinic and if such a goal was even possible. My positive thoughts and goals seemed to be temporarily erased from my soul. You might be thinking…how could she let one negative conversation delete all the her positive thoughts and positive attitude so quickly? Well, the answer is..…I don’t know how it happened. Negativity can be so powerful it easily manipulates the situation before anyone is even aware. It doesn’t help that I am very sensitive to my surroundings and thrive with ease around positive energy.
After my negative experience this week I noticed by mind and body was more tired than usual. I felt depressed and unable to focus. For days I was carrying the energy of that negative conversation with me. The impact of that conversation was affecting my physical body, which meant my immune system was now being altered. To some this may sounds dramatic but research has shown that negativity can affect the immune system and our health. Even small amounts of negativity.
There are two quotes I love and inspire me about being positive:
“Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture which helps them identify solutions where as negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems.” Barbara Fredrickson
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill
When I read these quotes I am inspired to be optimistic and surround myself with more positive people. Life is hard. We all face challenges we are not excited about. We may be facing an illness, the death of a loved one, financial concerns, a negative co-worker, family contention. Whatever our situation may be, one positive thought or action we portray or experience can affect our soul today and someone tomorrow.
The following articles have some good points about being more positive and the impact it can have on our health. It is sometimes hard to be positive when we are facing a serious illness or a difficult challenge in our life. It takes practice to incorporate being more positive. Research shows that if we try to be more positive the benefits can be very fruitful and even help us to live longer.
Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress
Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.
Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you're optimistic or pessimistic — and it may even affect your health.
Indeed, some studies show that personality traits such as optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don't despair — you can learn positive thinking skills.
Understanding positive thinking and self-talk
Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.
If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you're likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.
Identifying negative thinking
Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Some common forms of negative self-talk include:
· Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.
· Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
· Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
· Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you're a total failure.
Focusing on positive thinking
You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice — you're creating a new habit, after all. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:
· Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about, whether it's work, your daily commute or a relationship. You can start small by focusing on one area to approach in a more positive way.
· Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
· Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
· Follow a healthy lifestyle. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can also break it up into 10-minute chunks of time during the day. Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn techniques to manage stress.
· Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
· Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things you're thankful for in your life.
Practicing positive thinking every day
If you tend to have a negative outlook, don't expect to become an optimist overnight. But with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you.
When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you're better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.
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The Power of Positive Thinking
Are you a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person? The answer could make a difference in your heart health, say Johns Hopkins researchers. Check out their findings—plus simple ways to boost positivity in your life.
Here’s heartwarming news: People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.
That’s the finding from Johns Hopkins expert Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., and her colleagues. The finding held even in people with family history who had the most risk factors for coronary artery disease, and positive people from the general population were 13 percent less likely than their negative counterparts to have a heart attack or other coronary event.
Yanek and her team determined “positive” versus “negative” outlook using a survey tool that assesses a person’s cheerfulness, energy level, anxiety levels and satisfaction with health and overall life. But you don’t need a survey to assess your own positivity, says Yanek. “I think people tend to know how they are.”
Hope and Your Heart
The mechanism for the connection between health and positivity remains murky, but researchers suspect that people who are more positive may be better protected against the inflammatory damage of stress. Another possibility is that hope and positivity help people make better health and life decisions and focus more on long-term goals. Studies also find that negative emotions can weaken immune response.
What is clear, however, is that there is definitely a strong link between “positivity” and health. Additional studies have found that a positive attitude improves outcomes and life satisfaction across a spectrum of conditions—including traumatic brain injury, stroke and brain tumors.
Can You Boost Your Bright Side?
Although a positive personality is something we’re born with and not something we can inherently change, Yanek says, there are steps you can take to improve your outlook and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Simply smile more.
A University of Kansas study found that smiling—even fake smiling—reduces heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations. So try a few minutes of YouTube humor therapy when you’re stomping your feet waiting in line or fuming over a work or family situation. It’s difficult not to smile while watching a favorite funny video.
Instead of stressing about a traffic jam, for instance, appreciate the fact that you can afford a car and get to spend a few extra minutes listening to music or the news, accepting that there is absolutely nothing you can do about the traffic.
Resiliency is the ability to adapt to stressful and/or negative situations and losses. Experts recommend these key ways to build yours:
· Maintain good relationships with family and friends.
· Accept that change is a part of life.
· Take action on problems rather than just hoping they disappear or waiting for them to resolve themselves.
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