Don't Compare Your Day #1 With Someone Else's Day #300
I'm not gonna lie to you, sometimes having a positive mindset is not as easy as they suggest. Sometimes it's so much easier (and fun) to be a sarcastic cynic who doesn't expect anything good and is still disappointed.
Don't blame me, I know it's the same for you. Also, I have science on my side, just wait.
I would lack fingers on my body to count the number of times I gave something up just because I didn't do it perfectly on the first try. Like the times I left the gym because I didn't look like Zac Efron after the first week, or when I dropped out of chess classes because I couldn't win the first online tournament I signed up for.
“Excuse me sir, in which class will we learn to imagine plays on the ceiling of our rooms like in The Queen's Gambit?”
I know what you are gonna say, “don't give up”, “you must be constant”, “Rome wasn't built in a day.”
I hate how life coaches and motivators say things like you just have to focus and you will achieve everything you set your mind to, giving cheesy speeches encouraging you that the only thing you need to be successful is not giving up. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it” No, Walt, IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE. Some things are simply very difficult to achieve, no matter how hard you try.
However, the coaches are right.
Not 100% right, I still hate those guys. But there are scientifically proven techniques that demonstrate how you can change aspects of your life simply by changing the way you think. It's not as easy as “just be positive,” but it's not all bullshit either.
Positive psychology to actually achieve goals
I just told you that science backs me up when I told you that it is much easier to be negative. Well, they are facts, negative thoughts and emotions are easier to reach our mind, they stay longer and have stronger effects than positive ones.
This is why forced positivity seems so stupid to us because it just isn't real. You can't stay positive all day, covering your brain with Kevlar of negative thoughts forever. Worries, uncertainty, and despair will always be there, it is impossible not to feel them.
I always suspect that people who always look happy have something to hide, maybe they are up to something, like flies. I just haven't figured it out yet. Anyways...
Not everything is lost, tho. Thanks to psychologists who took on the task of studying how positive thoughts affect our behavior, they devised a real and proven technique to turn our minds in a realistic and achievable way. All thanks to Positive Psychology.
What does it consist of?
Put in the words of someone who is not a psychologist or understands complicated scientific terms: Positive Psychology consists of concentrating on our thoughts and deliberately shifting the focus to positive ideas. According to the theory, doing this exercise will lead us to see changes in our lives and how we approach goals.
Do not focus on the progress of others
Let's go back to my poor ability to stay consistent with my goals. The brain works with comparisons constantly. Comparing two pieces of information helps us better understand the world around us. By comparing we learn new things, but we can also sabotage ourselves to achieve something.
One of the most common mistakes we can make is to set the maximum point of success as a goal when we are learning a new skill. If you are going to start running, your goal cannot be Usain Bolt, there is only one of him in the world. When you are in the middle of the journey to achieve something, you must get used to the idea of being the 1000 best in that area, that way it is easier for you to stay on track.
Comparing our progress to someone else's is toxic and just plain silly. You don't know how much time and work it took for others to get to where they are, maybe you're comparing your #5 day to someone else's day #300.
Although yes, I know I am one motivational quote away from sounding like the coaches I talked about so much crap recently, Positive Psychology assures us of specific ways to achieve the right mindset.
The Exercise of Positive Thinking
So if negative thoughts come so naturally and easily, how can we manage to maintain a correct mindset?
While you can't control negative thoughts crossing your mind, you can control what happens right after that. It's like turning off our brain's autopilot mode and taking the wheel.
It is a fairly simple exercise, it only takes a while to train, the results will show eventually.
Remember when you were in school and the dreaded day of coming home with your grades would arrive. If you came in with a 6/10 in math and a 9/10 in music, your parents would tell you that you need to focus more on studying math. Unknowingly, they taught us to focus more on our weaknesses than our strengths, rather than signing up for music classes and honing our skills.
That's why throughout the day, our attention will rest on the things we are not so good at or have failed at, just like when we were enrolled in math classes. It's your job to consciously focus on the things you are good at. In a soccer team, they don't make the goalkeeper practice kicking the ball for hours, they make him practice catching it because that's what he's good at.
Do not force yourself to be happy or forbid yourself to be sad
What is the main difference between Positive Psychology and the motivational speeches of people who are always falsely happy?
It's very simple: Positive Psychology is a science and it recognizes all aspects of the mind, including sadness, pain, and negative emotions. Denying them is simply unreal. Also, it understands that happiness is not a perennial state of mind. Forcing it is simply impossible. This technique acknowledges negative thoughts as well as positive ones, as it is basically how we function.
You shouldn't push negative thoughts under the rug, you should only make enough room for positive ones. Focusing on your strengths will naturally improve your performance, feel more motivated, and become better at the things you need to strengthen. The positive phrases that come out of your mouth will not be false or forced because you will really feel that way.
So I went back to my chess classes and stopped focusing so much that I always quit easily. Sometimes a thought like “I'm easily distracted during class” naturally crosses my mind, and that's when I turn off the autopilot and start thinking about something positive. I am quite curious and constantly want to learn, that is why I came to this class. That persistence allows me to stay motivated and improve.
So don't be fooled by motivators, their positivity is fake and forced. Allow yourself to feel and think negative things, but when it happens, shift the steering wheel to positive and constructive thoughts.
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