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How YOU Can Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Natalie
Stein
September 18, 2020
How YOU Can Turn Challenges into Opportunities
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Do you know anyone who is always smiling? These types of people seem to float through life as though nothing bad ever happens to them or, when it does, they manage to make it seem like no big deal. Appearances can be deceiving, though, and here are three things you should know.

  1. Bad things happen to everyone.
  2. Good things happen to everyone.
  3. You may not be able to affect the “things” (events), but you can change your thoughts.

You can practice being more positive if you are not one of those people who naturally takes the positive view of situations, even, as the Lark check-in mentioned, on days when a negative person might say that everything went wrong. Here is some help getting started.

Why Is It Important to Be Positive?

Why should you spend time and effort being more positive if your natural tendency is to see the negative in things? The reasons go beyond whether other people see you smiling. When you are positive and you see the good in things, you can truly become happier. 

As a result, you may become healthier, since your mindset really does affect your physical health. You may also become healthier because you may be more likely to act healthier when you are positive. 

For example, let’s say  that one day, you skipped your workout and ate 2 servings of vegetables. A negative person might think, “I failed my workout regimen so I won’t work out tomorrow, and I won’t even bother trying to eat more vegetables since I didn’t hit my goal of 3 servings.” A positive person might think, “I can do better tomorrow by remembering that any workout is helpful, and I am proud that I was able to get close to my goal of 3 servings of vegetables.”

How Can I Be More Positive?

Here is a positive thought: you have already taken the first step towards being more positive by deciding that you want it. Are you ready for something else positive? Here goes: being more positive does not mean that you need to, or should, deny that bad things can happen. Denial is not realistic, healthy, or helpful. Instead, try these steps.

  1. Breathe. It’ll help calm you down so you can think clearly and handle things better.
  2. Acknowledge it. “I got upset with my coworker and said some things I shouldn’t have said.”
  3. Accept it. “Arguments happen, and I was pretty angry at the time.”

Now that you have processed those unwanted events, it is time to find the positive aspects of the situation. Some positive thoughts you might have about the above example might be:

  • “I’m glad we had that discussion because it made me realize that I had overlooked some aspects of that project, and my coworker reminded me.”
  • “It’s good we talked about those things because now I am better prepared to defend my methods to my boss.”
  • “I had not realized how quick I am to take offense. I need to work on my ability to take constructive criticism.”
  • “I need to let my colleague know how grateful I am for being honest with me. I will tell her tomorrow.”

If you ever have trouble thinking of anything positive, you can always start with some basic thoughts. “I am alive.” “I have friends or family who care about me.” “I got to see someone smile today.” Quickly, those simple thoughts can snowball into an avalanche of positivity - watch out!

This is an example of how the same events can be seen by a negative person (left column) and a positive person (right column).

A Day When Everything Went Wrong (Negative View) A Day When Many Things Went Right (Positive View) I slept through my alarm and woke up 30 minutes late.

I got an extra 30 minutes of sleep, which I needed.

The traffic was horrible today.

I had enough time on my commute to listen to an extra chapter of my audio book.

I had a doughnut at the office today because I couldn’t control myself.

That doughnut wasn’t as satisfying as I expected, so next time I’ll just stick to my oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast at work.

It was too rainy to walk outside at lunch.

I got in a fun workout going up and down the stairs at work, while stopping between flights to do some stretches and calisthenics.

I didn’t land the business deal that I wanted.

I made a great presentation and can use the materials for a future business proposal.

I didn’t finish today’s to-do list.

I got a lot done today, and can get back to my to-do list again tomorrow!

I shouldn’t have had that glass of wine at dinner.

I enjoyed spending time with my family at dinner, and will try to eat extra-healthily tomorrow.

It takes practice, but you can adopt a more positive outlook over time. In turn, the world may become more positive for you.

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