Most of us know someone we would call an “eternal optimist.”
These are the people whose parade is never rained on (and even if it is, they’ll probably comment on how much they love the rain). To them, every cloud has a silver lining, every glass is half full, and there’s always, always a bright side.
Of course, we can’t all be that way. It’s safe to say that most people are well acquainted with “those” days—the days when nothing seems to go quite right.
But how do you know if you’re just having a bad day, or if you need to work on adding more positivity to your life in general?
Believe it or not, there are several big signs that might signal that it’s time to really focus on improving your outlook. Here are our top three.
1. You dread going into work.
A “case of the Mondays” is pretty normal, but regularly dreading work could be a sign that you’re low on positivity.
What do you focus on when you go to work? Is it your tasks, your ideas, and your goals? Or is it workplace drama, how much you hate your boss, and the fact that it’s only Wednesday?
When you’re faced with a challenge at work, do you view it as an exciting opportunity that will expand your capabilities? Or as another thing standing between you and your weekend?
If you aren’t able to find some sense of purpose or accomplishment in your work, it might be time for a positivity check.
Want to know more about how happiness is related to job satisfaction and performance? Check out this TED talk.
No one is perfect—we all know this. And yet, sometimes, being told you aren’t perfect can hit pretty hard, especially if you’re prone to negative thought patterns.
People who struggle with positivity also struggle with criticism. When they receive negative feedback, they often make the problem into something bigger than it actually is. This can manifest itself in a few different ways, including anger and defensiveness (“I don’t do that!”), self-shaming (“You’re right. I’m a terrible person.”), or blaming others (“You’re just saying that because you’re rude.”).
2. You are hypersensitive to criticism (including self-criticism)
Negative people may even find criticism in well-intentioned comments or neutral observations. That is, they might take offense to something that wasn’t meant to be critical at all.
Similarly, overly negative people might also tend to brush off compliments, believing that they aren’t deserving of praise, or that they’re being lied to. Either way, humbly accepting a compliment allows positivity to thrive, while shutting it down only introduces negativity.
Try this the next time you’re inclined to react defensively to feedback:
- Hit the pause button. Take a deep breath. Give yourself ten seconds to think through your reaction before giving an emotionally-charged response.
- If needed, ask for clarification. Chances are, the other person isn’t trying to hurt or offend you. Ask them what they meant, and listen to their response with an open mind.
- Own your mistakes. Mistakes are inherently human. Acknowledge the mistake that you made and don’t shame yourself for it.
- Recognize the opportunity to improve. When you receive negative feedback, you’re being given the chance to make positive change. Embrace it.
3. Your relationships are suffering.
It’s easy to blame others when things go wrong in our relationships, but the fact is, if you are consistently having problems with other people, it could be a sign that your negativity is hurting your ability to have a beneficial relationship.
Negativity can lead to a number of problems in relationships, including:
- Frequent arguments
- Hurtful comments
- One party becoming overly controlling
- Inability to compromise
- Communication breakdown
Ultimately, your relationships could fall apart entirely as your friends or family members tire of your negativity.
If you notice that your once-strong relationships are weakening, or that you have a hard time building new relationships, take a moment to examine your attitude and how it affects your interaction with others.
Want to course correct with your off-track relationships? Here are some suggestions:
- Have an open and honest discussion about where your relationship is, and where you want it to be. Your perception may be different from the reality.
- Get better at listening. People like to be around good listeners. Practice active listening to show your companion that you care about what they have to say.
- “Know thyself.” Pay attention to what triggers you during your interactions with others. If you’re able to work through and avoid those triggers, you’ll likely cut down on the conflict in your relationship.
A positive attitude is linked to better health, higher confidence, improved performance, and more satisfying relationships. In other words, your negativity could be standing in the way of you being your best self and living your best life.
We want to help you own your thoughts, uplift your attitude, and create a happier life. Learn more about Design.org’s unique approach to increasing positivity and designing a life you love.
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