With summer upon us, I’ve been noticing a new energy in the city. Patios quickly fill up after work for office-dwellers catching some fresh air during happy hour; crowded weekend pool parties and day-glo swimsuits are in abundance, and kids run around the neighborhood without a care in the world now that they’re on vacation. There’s an overwhelming feeling of positivity all around me, and I am HERE FOR IT.
The effects of this newfound positive energy aren’t lost on me: from stronger relationships to healthier habits, I’m enjoying all the good things the sunny weather has brought my way.
As the saying goes, misery loves company, so it only makes sense that positive people attract other positive people. This adage certainly is true with my husband, one of the most positive people I know! This is our first full summer as a married couple after our wedding last August, and life with him has truly been #OnlyJoy. He has a way of turning even the most mundane activities into an adventure, and I’m thankful every day that I get to spend with him, and for an exciting summer ahead!
And my son – another great guy in my life! – is another purveyor of positivity. Not only does his sunny outlook, drive, and determination have a great influence on me, but I also see the influence he has on his group of friends, and vice versa. He has done an admirable job of surrounding himself with a fantastic, close-knit group of kids (or, should I say, young adults), who give me hope for the future. If I ever experience doubt (especially after reading the news), all I have to do is look to them, and my negative outlook turns positive.
In addition to surrounding myself with positive people, I also cultivate positivity in my habits. We are the products of our choices, and I choose to be positive. Here are some of the ways I do that:
Listen to some uplifting music. It doesn’t have to be spiritual chants or electro-dance-pop, just something that makes you happy. Whether the Cupid Shuffle is your jam, or you hopped on the Yanni train 25 years ago and never looked back, play whatever puts you in a good mood.
In fact, while you’re listening to your positivity soundtrack, go ahead and take a walk around your neighborhood. Studies show that nature – even if it’s just the meticulously landscaped nature of suburbia – can improve your mood and your outlook. I can’t tell you how often I come back refreshed and happier after a vigorous walk. It works wonders.
You might also train yourself to engage in some strategic downward counterfactual thinking. That’s just psychology-speak for telling yourself how much worse something could have been. If you had a fender-bender, for example, you could remind yourself that, but for some quick thinking on your part, a minor accident could have been a disaster. Or, if you’ve been laid low by a cold, console yourself with the fact that you don’t have the flu.
The flip side of downward counterfactual thinking is, of course, upward counterfactual thinking, and those people who routinely partake in that have higher rates of depression. So, if you find yourself thinking “Wow, if only I had studied harder in college, I might be a millionaire by now,” cut it out. Instead, think of how much worse off you would be if you hadn’t made all the good decisions that got you where you are today.
Of course, it’s easy to stay positive when you have good habits, supportive friends, and your health. It’s not that easy when you are faced with negativity every day. The amazing people who are able to turn negative experiences into positive energy are the ones I find truly inspirational.
Take Rafael Anteby, for example. He is an LA-based jewelry designer who turns bullets into works of art. His collection, Bullets 4 Peace, repurposes bullet casings to create stunning statement pieces. Under normal circumstances, manufacturers collect casings to recycle them into more bullets; The Israeli-born Rafael, however, inspired by his own experiences in areas of conflict, intercepts and upcycles casings to support charitable organizations. (Did I mention Beyoncé is a fan?)
And speaking of influential women, you can’t write a post about someone turning a negative into a positive without mentioning Tig Notaro, comic extraordinaire and breast cancer survivor. She made headlines after delivering an earth-shattering standup routine only a few days after learning she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she has become a champion of sharing positivity in the face of adversity. The set, which begins “Thank you, I have cancer, thank you,” is a testament to the power of positive energy. Tig shows us that even in the dark times, it’s ok, nay: recommended, to laugh and stay hopeful.