I was reading Positivity the other day, by Positive Psychologist from UNC Chapel Hill, Barbara Fredrickson. Barbara has dedicated her life's work to the study of positivity. For so long, psychology was dominated by the study of negativity. Seeking to find cause and cure to the ever increasing depression that plagues our society.
Not long ago, Barbara and other brilliant psychologists decided to turn the tables not his idea, and start studying the other side of the spectrum: positivity. Positive Psychology was born.
In her book Positivity, Barbara talks about how cultivating more positivity can make us more resilient. It is proven that naturally positive people carry higher resilience than their not so positive counterparts.
Resilience helps us to better react and recover from tough life situations that may come our way. Positive people are better suited to handle themselves in tough situations and bounce back after an event much quicker.
A section of her book really hit me...
"...resilient people are highly attuned to the ever-changing circumstances in which they find themselves. They are emotionally nimble. They react to what is happening now, not to what-ifs. They don't spend time worrying about the future. Instead, perhaps appreciating that they can cope with whatever comes their way, they adopt a wait-and-see attitude. They're also quick to tell the difference between good and bad - they don't overgeneralize or overreact. They minimize their angst by cutting out advanced worry and afterglow obsessions, focusing instead on reality of the present moment."
I feel like this is something so many of us struggle with. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the what-ifs of tomorrow. Spending hours ruminating about what could happen or should happen. But we really have minimal control over events that cross our path. We simply can control our thoughts and reactions to those moments.
How different would things be if you too adopted this wait-and-see attitude? Choosing to live life in a much more intuitive, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of mindset. How refreshing would it be to just focus on now, and not worry about tomorrow?
There are times where thinking about the future is very beneficial. When we are visualizing our goals and dreams. This visualization can help us work through our thoughts, and form a clear vision and path moving forward.
But when we start thinking through the negatives. the what-ifs of what could happen or what could go wrong, this visualization is no longer beneficial, but rather severely detrimental. A good question to ask yourself is simply:
Is this useful?
A certain amount of worry can be good, to safeguard us against danger, and to keep us alert, and in the here and now. But once you pass the point of a thought serving a purpose or bringing useful, it is better to discard the notion.
Worry less about things out of your control. Think less about possible outcomes that do not match up with reality. Wait and see what happens before sending out the bat signal of despair.
This week, try out being emotionally nimble. Let things roll off your shoulder. If you feel something getting under your skin, take a breath.
Know that a thought is simply a thought. And by increasing our positive outlook on life, we are setting ourselves up for greater resilience to safeguard against whatever life may throw our way.