How to Stay Positive in a Negative World

You don't need to look far to find negativity these days. Scroll the headlines or turn on your TV and you could quickly come to the conclusion that we live in a dark and angry place. But you can change that -- both your belief about the world, and the world itself.
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"There are two ways to live your life," Einstein reportedly said. "One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Which do you choose?

You don't need to look far to find negativity these days. Scroll the headlines or turn on your TV and you could quickly come to the conclusion that we live in a dark and angry place.

But you can change that -- both your belief about the world, and the world itself.

Part of my purpose, I believe, involves contributing positively to the world. I want to be remembered for making a positive difference, therefore I strive to live that legacy now, every day, with every interaction. Do I always succeed? Probably not. But I hold this aim high and give it my best.

If you could use a boost of positivity in your work and life, consider one of these ideas:

1. Surround yourself with positive people.
Who in your life seems to glow with positivity? Who inspires, uplifts, and challenges you to up your game? Consciously build a network of people who motivate you to be your best, then spend ample time with them. Be that source of light for others, too.

2. Watch your vocabulary.
I once heard that Mother Teresa declined participation in an anti-war rally. When asked why, she replied that she did not want to give any attention to war, but she'd gladly participate in a pro-peace rally. Pay attention to your words. They can help you heal relationships, mend broken hearts, reach astounding goals, and craft a beautiful vision for your work and life.

3. Infuse yourself with positivity.
Putting poor quality gas in your car will not help it run at peak performance. Similarly, how you fuel yourself will determine your experience as well. Read inspiring books, download helpful podcasts, watch encouraging movies, follow positive people on social media. Share acts of kindness at staff meetings. Create a physical environment of positivity, too: post fun quotes on your bathroom mirror or put a light-hearted comic on your office door, for example.

4. Focus on what you can control.
So much is out of our hands, isn't it? Focusing on that, however, can leave you feeling depleted and helpless. Determine what you can control and put your energy there. For example, you can control your responses, actions, words, and thoughts; you can, as Gandhi sagely advised, be the change you wish to see in the world. You have more power than you realize, and when you keep your focus there, that power expands.

5. Look for the good.
Have you ever decided to purchase a certain kind of car, then suddenly you see that car everywhere? We tend to find what we focus on: If you believe things are awful, you'll find evidence to support that belief; if you believe life is a gift, you'll find evidence to support that. Mr. Rogers reminded us of this opportunity even in times of tragedy: "My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people that are helping.'" Look for positivity.

6. Examine your daily routine.
How do you start your mornings? How do you close out each day? How might you bring positivity into the activities you do regularly? One of my coaching clients uses her commute to send silent blessings to other drivers; another reflects on gratitudes every evening as she brushes her teeth. Shine positivity into your already-established routines.

7. Choose to be positive.
What? Can it be as simple as a choice? Like most things in life, positivity is a decision we can make in every moment. Set affirming boundaries in your work and life. Take action to support growth and joy. Begin the habit of pausing and thoughtfully choosing your response to situations rather than mindlessly reacting.

Perhaps most importantly, despite the title of this article, don't think of this as a negative world. Yes, negative events occur; people inflict harm, make poor choices, cause pain. But this is also a beautiful world filled with promise, opportunity, kindness, generosity, and love. Take note of the random acts of kindness and how often they go viral. Pay attention to the small groups of people making significant positive change in their communities. Look for examples of helpfulness and contribution throughout the course of your days.

Continue to feed that positive world -- like Einstein said, living as though everything is a miracle -- and watch life transform accordingly.

Dr. Christi Hegstad is a certified and award-winning coach, author, and trainer who helps meaningful achievers make a positive, purposeful difference. Learn more at, on Twitter (@DrChristiCoach), and Facebook (/MAPIncFan).

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