5 TIPS for CREATING a POSITIVE Attitude [When Things Don’t Line Up]
Speed Peek (5 Brief Tips)
Understand More (About Tip 1)
Anti-Challenge Reframing (Part 1 of 5 Self-Awareness
A Story About Lead Photograph (“Sunset Askew”)
I’m often asked how I keep a positive outlook and pull silver linings out of any situation. How is it done during times when negativity surrounds me, hopes and plans are way off-course, and even when tragedy strikes? Here are 5 tips, briefly explained, that have worked for me. They are part of my foundation of self-evident truths, which have guided me over the past 24 years, during my ongoing journey of living a life of positivity.
Once a week, over the period of five (5) consecutive weeks, I will be sharing a more detailed look at each of these personal tips in the ‘Understand More’ section, beginning with “Tip 1: Self-Awareness”. Throughout this chapter of posts are my personal experience versions of voluntary cognitive reframing. Essentially, I am relaying how I practice a self-help method of replacing negative thought habits with the habit of finding, and focusing on the positive in all situations. Hoping the Positivity Series provides food for thought, entertainment, and perhaps even a springboard for anyone searching for a spark of positive thinking, in any area of their life.
5 TIPS for Creating A Positive Attitude
1.✔️SELF-AWARENESS Learn through observation how your feelings, emotions and physical body react to both positive and negative perception. (Read more detail in “Understand More” Below)
2.✔️ EXPECTATIONS They kill fun, period. Whether too high or too low, they rob you of experiencing joy, humor and new opportunities.
3.✔️ PERCEPTION is based on how you choose to interpret people, places, and things; making a difference inside you. Understand all you can control is your perception; the only one controlling your perception is you.
4.✔️ACTIONand HABIT My magic wand is made of two components: Action and Habit! Without action, nothing changes. Repeating action makes taking action easier. Repeating action becomes a habit. Positive habits feel like magic!
5.✔️KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly!) “Keep It Simple, Silly”: Don’t beat yourself up, habits take time. If you really want change, keep trying!
TIP #1 for Creating a Positive Attitude; Self-Awareness
Developing the type of SELF-AWARENESS described in this post was the key to unlocking my ability to put theory into practice, before new wreckage was created. In particular, recognizing my physical response to undesired thoughts was one of the ‘magic ingredients’ I had been missing. By physically aware I mean: Without looking in a mirror, could I describe how my facial muscles and other parts of my body “felt”? Did I sense my face was frowning, smiling, or expressionless? Did I feel my eyes widen; my eyebrows rise? Was I standing relaxed, or could I feel my muscles tighten; was I fidgeting? Could I detect my heart beating faster than normal? Learning to observe myself in this way, in any situation, not only helped me identify how much harm (or good) my perception was actually causing me to experience, but also gave me time to counteract negative thoughts, before an ill-disposed attitude was on a roll, like a giant snowball heading downhill, and more difficult to diffuse.
Without the component of physical self-awareness, I had been missing important clues that were right in front of me; ‘clue cues to diffuse’ negativity, before any of the old automatic-thoughts and responses kicked in. It sounded great on paper to “just replace the old perspective with a new, positive one”, but I found it not so easy to follow through once negativity had a head start.
My conclusion: Becoming immediately aware of my body’s physical response was a priority. – Holley
My reasoning: Full mental focus cannot fully be on more than one thing at a time. By turning my thoughts to “What was I sensing physically?”, my focus was taken off the immediate feelings that were trying to expand into a bad attitude take-over. With the few seconds head start I gained by concentrating on my physical reaction, I loosen the grip of the unwanted emotions. This small window of distraction from emotion, gave me enough time to recognize I was upset, brainstorm positive views, and apply them more quickly!
(Part 1 of 5: Self-Awareness) Goals for this exercise: 1) Become more familiar with how your body reacts physically, in both negative and positive frames of mind. 2) Practice making positive assumptions about others. 3) Recognize that the only different factor, affecting the changed outcome of the same scenario, is your perception.
Instructions: Part 1 Reading the scenario and negative thinking together 3 times.
Once straight through
Second time with pause after each sentence; noting any feelings/emotions you can identify.
Third time, with same pause; noting any physical responses you can identify(e.g. heavy sighing, fidgeting, tapping foot or fingers, increased heart rate, holding of breath, verbal remarks made, etc.)
Instructions: Part 2 Now, read the scenario and positive thinking, in the same manner, noting your responses.
After finishing Parts 1 & 2 ask yourself: 1. Which physically felt better? 2. Was I in a different frame of mind after the each part of exercise? 3. Walking out of the store, do I think the difference in the way I feel will affect others I interact with?
Scenario: You are almost home after a very long work day; the weather is miserable; 113 F (46 C). You’re tired, your feet hurt, and now you’re in a long line to pay for groceries, including your favorite ice cream. The line is moving normal until it’s your turn next. Only now, the person who’s been talking on their phone, the entire 15 minutes in line, seems scattered as they search for change to pay, all the while smiling. This goes on 3 minutes; you know your favorite ice cream is half melted by now. Negative thinking: I have had it. Doesn’t this person think ahead? Don’t they know it’s hot outside and my ice cream is already melting? What are they doing taking their time; no one in front of them took this long? Why are they smiling instead of apologizing? I can’t even look that direction without saying something mean. I don’t want to make a loud scene, so I’ll just roll my eyes, and keep my eyes looking anywhere but at this ridiculously slow person, to show my displeasure. Positive thinking: (using your power of choice to create alternative possibilities) I’m curious what’s going on. Maybe the call was from their boss? Maybe it was bad news and this person is putting on a brave face in public? I hope wasn’t about someone hurt, or worse. I wonder how I would react if I received a call that my mother was in an accident or the hospital? I wonder if they’ve lost a job and are down to their last dollar in change? This person is smiling, even though they are obviously having a hard time paying for groceries. I just noticed they’re having a hard time moving their right hand. I’m glad I smiled back when they turned to me as they left, and apologized for the delay.
This scenario is an actual experience of mine. Noticing I had begun holding my breath lead me quickly to pulling out my favorite weapon for diffusing negativity: Curiosity. With curiosity now my main focus, my attention was directed to observing the situation in more detail. From these details, I could create positive assumptions to replace my negative ones. It did not matter if they were accurate; either way, they were assumptions about ‘the rest of the story’. The result: Thoughts of empathy and compassion replaced impatience and building hostility. The smile I felt myself wearing as I walked back into the heat was not brought about by what I saw, but rather how I chose to see it. (Side note: The ice cream was Häagen-Dazs®.)
Of course there’s a story, why not! After all, it is a blog about “Life” with Holley, and my life includes photographing; everything! I love to hear about photo shoots, because I know behind every frame I view, there is a photographer trying to relay what they perceive. It’s quite a bonus to get a glimpse of the thought behind the lens; it breathes life into a photograph for me. First thing I should mention is my self-imposed rule for every time I pick up my camera: The only thing I expect is to be surprised. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less. (Sometimes, the surprise is I don’t end up with a lot of great shots, hahaha!) When I set out just before sunset on September 29, 2018, I was not expecting the lead image of this post. It initially started like most sunset shoots, with the landscape and gorgeous colors on the horizon having my foremost attention. While I did indeed marvel at the subtle differences I saw in the sky, to be honest, it didn’t look much different than a hundred other similar sunsets. With the realization that nothing startlingly different popped out at me by the time Mr. Sun was close to the horizon, my mind switched to ‘McMahon-Magic” mode. That is to say, the words of a brilliant photographer I follow on Instagram, David McMahon Photography (@davidmcmahonphotography), came to mind. Recalling his suggested “PAT” methods for determining new and better shots, I reanalyzed, and voila!, a new perspective appeared! The shoot was suddenly brand new and interesting! One of the reasons this capture is so exciting for me, is I had been shooting the sky, landscape, and an occasional bird or rainbow from this rooftop location for about half a month, not seeing this perspective for weeks, literally. I’d almost convinced myself everything was looking the same, until a shift in my perspective revealed the setting Sun, sitting askew of one of the eyehook bolts fastened to the parapet wall. Three of my favorite life lessons ran through my head that evening:
No two days are exactly the same.
Differences I perceive from day to day can range from simple nuances to quite large.
Regardless of how the realities beyond my control differ, there is one constant that remains: I alone determine the efficacy of my power of perception, I alone make my own reality by choosing how I will perceive and experience each occurrence in my day.
Things can look quite different, when viewed from a different angle! [If you think you detect a tie-in with some of the first five tips and the way this shoot turned out, you’re correct! Indeed, an example of how keeping expectations out of the mix and allowing myself to consider there was another way to interpret the scene (by changing my perception) are what allowed “magic” of fun to step in!]
Image: “Sunset Askew” f/6.3 – 1/8000 – ISO 500 focal length 200mm Canon EOS 80D No post processing
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Very much looking forward to sharing topics and suggestions with you which have contributed to my own positive outlook on life, as well as providing information you are welcome to utilize in nurturing your own life's journey.
Truly hope you find this blog to be a bright spot in your days, and enjoy the rewards that come with a positive outlook!