June 20, 2010

How to Keep a Positive Attitude

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Crystal Light.

This has been a difficult post for me to write. I have a tendency to "look" like a positive person and even "talk" like a positive person, but inside I struggle with a lot of negative thoughts and feelings about myself and my situation in life. I think many of us do. When I feel myself slipping into a pattern of negative thinking, these are some of the things I try to do.

1. Count my many blessings- Sometimes I get into the pattern of wishing this or that could be different. So much so that I don't acknowledge the the ways that I have been richly blessed. Sometimes when I pray, I challenge myself to only give thanks. I don't ask for anything. I just list all my blessings and thank God for all the good things He has given me. I usually end up in tears, but happy tears are good.

2. Be thankful for my challenges- Yes, that's right. Be thankful for the hard times in life, because they will make you stronger and cause you to grow as a person.

There is a law in medicine called Wolff's Law. It states that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads it is placed under. If stress on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading.

I think that the same principle applies to us. Over time, with determination and faith, we can be strengthened as individuals to bear the loads we are asked to bear.

I see this all the time in my work as a Physical Therapist Assistant. One example that stands out to me was a man who had sustained a traumatic brain injury by falling off a roof. He was working so hard to relearn some of the simple daily activities that we do with out thinking. About 3 weeks into his rehab, were walking together with his 3 IV poles when he saw a lady on a mat who looked like she was in a lot of pain. She had recently had a knee replacement and was working with a therapist to get it to bend. My patient who had endured a life altering injury leaned over to me and said, "Glad that's not me!"

He was learning to deal with his challenge. He was being strengthened to bear his load so it didn't seem so heavy anymore. And isn't it true that you can look at other people's problems and be instantly thankful for your own!!! It keeps it all in perspective.

3. Forget myself and help others- There is something very spiritual about helping others. When I set off to help others, I am the one who gets blessed. I feel happy, peaceful, content...positive.

4. Exercise and eat well- I can tell you from personal experience that this works! I have dealt with postpartum depression with all my kids. After my second child, I was having daily panic attacks and I felt like I was in a dark hole that was impossible to escape. I felt alone and hopeless. I started talking to a therapist and learned how to cope with the anxiety. I knew that a lot of my anxiety stemmed from concerns about my health, so I decided to get really healthy so I wouldn't worry anymore. I hired a trainer and it changed my whole way of thinking. He helped me get into the best shape of my life. I became stronger physically and also personally. My confidence grew and I had a passion that I enjoyed. I became an endorphin junkie! My whole way of thinking changed and I have not had a problem with panic attacks or irrational, obsessive thoughts since.

5. Remember....- One of the most important words we use. When I feel overwhelmed and hopeless, I try to remember challenges that I (with help from above) have overcome in the past. I try to remember the good that came out of those hard times. I try to remember that, just as in the past, I can overcome hardship. I will learn. I will become stronger. Maybe some good will come of it. Maybe in the future I can help others who are going through the same thing.
I'm thankful that I have kept a journal in certain periods of my life. It is kind of amazing to look back and see how some of my darkest and lowest times opened me up to new understanding about life.

What helps you keep a positive attitude? Answer this question by leaving a comment on this post to be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card courtesy of Crystal Light.

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Cynthia said...

You've posted some great advice. My spouse struggles with anxiety issues- I wish I could get him to exercise, I know it would help.

Carolyn said...

All very sage advice. The exercise bit helps me immensely, as does seeking out my friends for a good laugh or a good cry.

Mami2jcn said...

I stay positive by focusing on tomorrow instead of fretting about past mistakes. My husband and mom help me keep a positive attitude by giving me pep talks when I'm feeling down.

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

kathleen erbe said...

I am 60 a single mother in Flagstaff, Az., and am disabled..I have been through the impossible, but have managed to keep a positive outlook for my spiritual connection. My daughter and I just experienced a forest fire only three miles from our front porch, and we were on standby to evacuate. Now there is a second fire, at massive proportions, and I for the first time now know what it is like to fear the worst. So I not only see our life in a new light, literally, but I know how scared others are in a catastrophe.
Thank you for your positiveness.

Amber said...

I keep positive by setting attainable goals that I can reach toward, by trying to keep a healthy mind and body, and by taking "me time" out at least once a week. Helps keep my head on straight :) Thanks!

shevilkenevil1 at aol dot com

aso said...

When I write down all of my thoughts - both good and bad - it is easy to look back and see that the majority of my life is full of positives, blessing, happiness and fortune. Also - when things aren't 100% positive, writing down the negatives serves as a powerful release.

Anne J said...

I stay positive by not dwelling on bad news. I keep my attention focused on myself and what I can do, and don’t stress about things outside my control. My husband says I'm too positive, and don't worry enough!
ajolly1456 at gmail dot com

Blue Girl said...

I stay positive by focusing on tomorrow instead of fretting about past mistakes

bluegirl1423 at gmail dot com

Joy said...

When I find myself thinking negative thoughts, I turn to something positive.

mjharvey26 at yahoo dot com


Gail said...

I stay positive by surrounding myself with great friends and family members that I can talk to about anything.

Thorne said...

A very honest post. Kudos! I am definitely a glass half full person. I have had a few periods in my life when the glass was almost empty, but even then I somehow tend to soldier on and savor those few drops until they again appear as wide as the seas to me. I do many things to stay positive but perhaps the most important is maintaining an “attitude of gratitude”. It’s hard to be cynical or feel sorry for myself when I really look around me and find the beauty and small joys that life has to offer. When I can be grateful for the shape of a leaf, the sounds of birds, a desert breeze; I’m doing just fine.thorne(at)hartjoy(dot)COM

Juliannajones said...

I am the world's worst with staying positive, but one thing i have found to help me, is to turn to God's word when I need help getting through a hard time. I also lean on others to help me by listening to their own experiences.

Christine said...

As a mom, doing things for others is kind of the job description so you'd think I would be tired of it by now -- but finding time to do things for others in my community really, really helps me keep perspective

Susan B said...

Think the situation through analyzing the worst case senario. Decide what you would do to cope. If you can deal with the worst case senario you can deal with anything in between!

Tiffany said...

To keep a positive attitude I think positively. As soon as you start to think negative thoughts your whole attitude changes. Think positive and you will stay positive.

Erin said...

You gave great advice on being positive. When things get hard I try and look for the good in my life.............counting your blessings, which always out weigh the negative. Helps me see how blessed I am.

SusanD said...

I'm committed to exercise and eating fresh foods. I started the C25K and hitting the farmer's market every weekend. Yummmm. Blessings, SusanD

Anonymous said...

I keep a positive attitude by getting proper rest, exercise and diet. I also live each day for my Lord Jesus Christ who saved me!

~eunice b
rsmile2u @dejazzd .com

icefairy said...

Staying connected with family and friends help me keep a positive attitude. I can share my experience and get good advice.