Staying positive isn’t always easy. Especially when there are things that you usually love to do, but can’t do anymore. It’s something we all go through during the current corona crisis. Everyone will recognize that you miss certain things; such as having a birthday party, seeing your family, planning a nice dinner with your friends, going to a restaurant or dancing in a club. Since there is not much we can do about corona, it might be useful to shift our focus to the positive things in life. How will positivity get you through the corona crisis?
Our brain easily focuses on the negative. This can be explained from our biological predisposition. A long time ago, it was very important that we remembered negative events, because it increased our chances of survival. For example, it was good to know which berry would make you sick or which snake infested areas you should avoid. Although most negative things in our lives right now don’t affect our survival any more, the mechanism still works the same. This often gets in our way more than it helps us.
Focus on positivity versus negativity
The down side of focusing on the negative is that it affects how you feel. If you tend to focus on everything you can’t do, you will soon feel very limited. Every time you can’t do something you’d like to do, you’ll be incredibly disappointed. This can make you feel down, anxious or sad and can get you stuck in a negative circle. Nobody wants that! Luckily there’s also good news; you decide what you focus on.
Focussing on the positive works the same as focussing on the negative; like a spiral. Once you start focussing on the things you can do or the things that are going well, you’ll start seeing more positive things. This will also make you feel better; you end up in a positive vicious circle.
Person A focuses on the negative: “Because of this stupid pandemic I can’t celebrate my birthday the way I would like to”. Person B focuses on the positive: “I’m so happy that I have so many friends with whom I would love to celebrate my birthday, that is true wealth! As soon as I can, I’ll have my birthday party”.
You could imagine that Person A feels disappointed, sad and angry about the situation. She can’t celebrate her birthday the way she would like to. On the other hand, Person B will probably feel grateful, happy and connected.
Shifting your focus from the negative to the positive won’t be done in a single day. Below you find several exercises to help you with this:
- Start a positivity or gratitude diary. Each day, write down what made you feel happy or grateful.
- When something negative occurs, ask yourself the following question: “Am I missing any positive sides to this event or restriction?
- Notice that you tend to give in to your negative feelings when something can’t be done? Try to realise that you are possibly focusing on the negative too much. Take the time to sit down and think about what could be going one. You won’t be able to find the perfect solution, but you might find a solution that meets your needs (having a connection with family or friends, having a good chat or having fun with others).
- Spend your spare time on the things you enjoy. Read a good book, write a letter, watch a good movie, go on a run, take a bath or schedule a self care day!). This way, your spare time will at least bring you something positive.