How to thrive and not just survive.
How to Thrive When Everything Feels Terrible
Whilst the Government and the Pandemic stop us from supporting landlords with tenant evictions. I thought I would share a couple of articles I have recently read and potentially offer some support of a different kind.
For some reason (another conversation), many humans thrive on negative energy, and enterprises such as news media use that energy to sell their wares. The news we read, social media we peruse, and the conversations we have and overhear. We absorb stress from our family, friends, and coworkers. It all takes its toll even if we don’t subscribe to their beliefs.
The Mighty ( I am still exploring it), a community platform that provides health information and brings people together around specific health issues. It recently surveyed more than 70,000 readers and community members around their awareness, perceptions, and experience with the coronavirus crisis. Interestingly respondents reported their top three emotions were frustration, worry, and anger. No sign of hope or other positive emotions.
Negativity can have toxic effects. I read some recent research that identified that we falter when exposed to negativity or rudeness.
Do you have coping strategies to reduce the amount of exposure?
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Witnessing rudeness interferes with our working memory and decreases our performance. Mere exposure to rude words reduces our ability to process and recall information. We tend to shut down, stop communicating, and cease being helpful to others. Dysfunctional and aggressive thoughts (and sometimes actions) skyrocket.
Fortunately, there is a productive way to counter those effects. It’s called thriving — the psychological state in which people experience a sense of both vitality and learning. Thriving individuals are growing, developing, and energized rather than feeling stagnated or depleted.
In studies conducted across a range of industries, it has been found that people who experience a state of thriving are healthier, more resilient, and more able to focus on their work. Here are some top tips to thrive. When people feel even an inkling of thriving, it tends to buffer them from distractions, stress, and negativity. In a study of six organizations across six different industries, employees characterized as highly thriving demonstrated 1.2 times less burnout compared with their peers. An additional benefit is that it provides confidence in themselves and their ability to take control. They were far less likely to have negativity drag them into distraction or self-doubt.
So how do you increase your thriving especially when it feels like you’re drowning in negativity?
Avoid negativity. Pay attention to what you’re ingesting: what information you chose to read, the media you consume, the music you listen to, the people you choose to spend time with, and the people you look up to. Negativity seeps into our pores through these sources. So make simple choices away from negativity and toward positivity.
Watch out for what you say out loud. Negative language is particularly insidious and potent. Be mindful of what you’re thinking and saying. Yes, those around you influence you and your mood, but we have more control over our thoughts and feelings than anyone else. And what we say out loud also carries significant weight. It’s ten times more damaging to our sense of thriving if we verbalize a thought than if we just think it.
So, think twice about how you’re framing and speaking about a situation. Instead of saying, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen,” or “It’s catastrophic,” (or “devastating” or “terrible”), tweak your language to be more neutral. You might say, “This situation is challenging,” which recognizes the opportunity for growth or learning. You can — and should — acknowledge the truth while minimizing its power to drag you down.
Adopt a neutral mindset. Negative thoughts and worries take us off track. We’re more likely to struggle with basic tasks. Long term, repetitive negative thinking is associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. It also hurts others because they are then exposed to our negativity. Of course, it’s all too easy to dwell on toxic people or situations. We might play the blame game, ruminate, or overanalyze the situation. It’s far better to adopt a proactive mindset, focusing on what we can control and what we should do next.
Use neutral thinking — a nonjudgmental, nonreactive way of assessing problems and analyzing crises. This includes staying in the moment, reacting to each moment as it unfolds, and keeping your focus on how you can influence your next action. Don’t get sucked into analyzing past failures or hijacked by future fears or thoughts. Take one play at a time.
Practice gratitude consistently. There is lots to be said about the benefits of gratitude. Gratitude reduces our stress, makes us happier, and helps us reach our goals. Routinely feeling grateful increases the social support we receive, which further reduces stress and its negative effects. It’s especially powerful when practiced alongside neutral thinking.
Take care by managing your energy. You can also increase your resilience in the face of negativity and encourage thriving by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep — all things we know we’re supposed to do but we often fail to when we’re bombarded with negativity. When we exercise, our muscles pump “hope molecules” into our bodily systems that are good for our mental and physical health. You can amplify these effects by exercising outside, with others, or to music.
Healthy eating also helps you stave off negativity. How well do you respond to frustration when you’re hungry? We lack the self-control required to respond patiently. Sleep is also important. A lack of it impairs self-regulation and self-control, which can produce more negativity. Research has linked poor sleep to frustration, impatience, hostility, anxiety, low levels of joviality, lower levels of trust, workplace deviance, and unethical behavior. Sleep deprivation also hurts the relationship between leaders and their followers and diminishes how much help people provide to others.
Seek out positive relationships — inside and outside of work. Research has found that de-energizing relationships — in which one person possesses an enduring, recurring set of negative judgments, feelings, and intentions toward another person — have four to seven times greater impact on an employee’s sense of thriving than energizing, positive relationships. To offset these effects, surround yourself and spend more time with energizers — the people in your life who make you smile and laugh, and lift your spirits.
You may not be able to stop the flow of negativity in your life, especially right now, but you can resist its toxic effects by making smart choices about who and what you surround yourself with, the mindset you adopt, and the information you consume. Not only will you be better off because of these choices — those around you will too.