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Jeffrey Lau |

Many of us may have heard of the importance of positivity but few can really tell why it’s important. Barbara Fredrickson, a university professor in Psychology, discovered how negative emotions affect our minds.

In the experiment, participants were asked to tally some objects they listed. Results showed that participants with negative emotions named remarkably fewer than those with positive or neutral emotions. 

People are more likely to generate positive thoughts and recall positive memories when they are sitting up straight.

The conclusion is, negative emotions do narrow our mind, forcing us to pick from limited options. This phenomenon is especially observable when we are in a life-threatening situation, where we have to take immediate action. When we are trapped with a reduced number of choices as a result of emotions coming into play, we make wrong regretful decisions.

So it’s really important to think positive.But… how? Thousands of articles online teach us how to think positive in the most clichéd ways possible. You should cheer up, crack a smile, look on the bright side of life…blah…blah..blah…

Read more: 8 Secrets to achieving Success & Happiness

Start with your posture: sit up straight! It’s more than etiquette

While one may think cultivation of positivity always requires conscious effort, indeed it doesn’t. Sitting up straight may appear irrelevant to positivity. But a study reveals the association between posture and positive thoughts.

The result shows that people are more likely to generate positive thoughts and recall positive memories when they are sitting up straight. So, sit up straight right now! Sometimes tiny things in life all contribute to our well-being without us noticing

Have a teaspoon in your pocket

Whenever we feel like formulating a negative thought, put the teaspoon into another pocket.

What else can a teaspoon do other than stirring our refreshing cup of coffee? Well, a Quora user, William Peynsaert, thinks of a brilliant idea to use a teaspoon for our evasion from negativity. All we need is a teaspoon. Nothing more. Well, technically, we also need a pair of pants with pockets. In case we are not wearing any.

What we do is to put the teaspoon into either one side of the pocket. Whenever we feel like formulating a negative thought, put the teaspoon into another pocket. Just that simple.

The principle behind is that the action occupies our brains so we don’t have spare resources to bring up any negative thoughts. Usually, we are quite impulsive to have negative thoughts and by the time we finished transferring the teaspoon, the urge is long gone and SNAP! We successfully stop a negative thought.

At first, we may find ourselves doing it over and over again. But eventually, we will do this less and less. After all, we can choose whatever utensils or stationery or anything that fit us. It’s just a medium. It may sound silly but it does work.

Read more: How these 10 tips can improve your communication with others?

Instead of news, read something uplifting in the morning

It is common to watch morning news reports. For the sake of keeping abreast of the latest news. This is definitely good not to block ourselves off the outside world. But, what news is mostly about? Car crash. Terrorist attack. Natural disaster. All sorts of disheartening incidents. I am not suggesting us not read any news but a trade off. Devote part of your morning on something more uplifting.

List three things you’re grateful for every day

Being grateful is associated with our well-being. It can also improve relationships and help with emotional maturity. Gratitude can simply promote happiness.

It is simple and easy to do. Try to list at least 3 things we are grateful for every day. In the end, we won’t realize how much it helps us. Researchers reveal a multitude of benefits in expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Being grateful is associated with our well-being. It can also improve relationships and help with emotional maturity. Gratitude can simply promote happiness.

It’s true that we can always find dissatisfaction in life. Same to satisfaction. Half-filled and half-empty glass. It’s actually a piece of cake to find things we can express gratitude on. The start of the weekend. Cats and dogs outside. Hiking trip canceled. Meh! Well, at least we have a home sheltering us. We even have Netflix to entertain ourselves.

Or, year review. NO pay raise. Can it be worse? You are not sacked, aren’t you? You still have a stable job. Or even, back to very basic. We are still alive, right? We are still living in this world of mystery and amazement. We still have lots to explore. There’s nothing to mourn on. There are always angels and devils in our brains. While we are usually the devil’s advocate, try to stand on the angel’s side now.

Read more: What messages do you give yourself all day: are they helpful?

Use the app “Happify” to cultivate positivity scientifically

Ever imagined an app to ‘happify’ ourselves. An app to delight ourselves and brighten our day? Then try Happify, an app designed especially for us to handle our negative emotions. It provides us with scientifically-proven tools and techniques to promote our emotional well-being.

It consists of short activities and games for us to relearn situations and be more aware of the subtle little things we should be grateful for. While we usually the gadgets are taking a toll out of us, it is now possible to cultivate positivity right back from it.

Celebrate your small wins every day

Any accomplishment, regardless of its size, activates the reward circuitry of our brains. Once activated, a chemical dopamine is released and this chemical is associated with the feeling of pride and achievement.

One easy way to start cultivating our positivity is to write down our small wins on a daily basis. And research has reassured the potential benefits of doing so. Progress is a lot more than just a step closer to success, as Amabile and Kramer suggest. In fact, if we properly record our progress, no matter how small it is, we instantly receive a confidence boost!

Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School and Steven Kramer read through approximately 12,000 diary entries written by 238 individuals from 7 different companies. The employees were asked to write about their emotions and moods, motivation levels, and perceptions of the work environment as well as what work they did and what events stood out in their minds on a daily basis for 4 months

The result showed that any accomplishment, regardless of its size, activates the reward circuitry of our brains. Once activated, a chemical dopamine is released and this chemical is associated with the feeling of pride and achievement.

Read more: How to get back up after life kicks you in the teeth

More importantly, this chemical also motivates us to continue on with the taking challenges and to attempt to repeat the same achievement next time. This forms a positive reinforcement loop that makes us more likely to be successful. So pay close attention to what you achieved. Ran for 400m? Got up 10 minutes earlier? Mark these down and recognize yourself! It’s never too much!

Jeffrey Lau is an editor, sports love, and a freelance writer. This piece was first published in Life Hack.

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