The Pessimist’s Positivity Challenge

March is almost here (where did all the time go?!) and it’s time to introduce my theme for the next installment of the Buttontapper Challenge. If you’re new to the challenge, this is something you can participate in daily or whenever the mood strikes you. There’s no wrong way to participate!

So, what’s the deal?

About the Challenge

The Buttontapper Challenge is a writing challenge with a new theme each month. We’ll follow a set of prompts and write about them each day, sharing snippets on social media using the hashtag #ButtontapperChallenge.

March Theme: The Pessimist’s Positivity Challenge

Positivity is all the rage these days, and while I am certainly interested in cultivating a positive mindset, I’m also a pessimist at heart. I prefer to expect the best but prepare for the worst, because I’ve been disappointed a lot in life. Ultimately, it’s a coping mechanism.

But there’s plenty of evidence that positivity is good for your health – both mentally and physically – and that positive people live longer. Thus the positivity challenge!

While I don’t like empty phrases that signify nothing, nor the idea of following popular “gurus,” I’ve been taking some Coursera classes on the subject of Positive Psychology online, which has given me a lot of food for thought. So, that’s why I’ve decided to dedicate my posts for the month of March to positivity, and the idea that even a cranky pessimist can embrace positive thinking.

I’ve divided the list up into prompts that will help you think about positivity from different perspectives, including exercises and tips for positive thinking that I’ve learned along the way. I can’t wait to see your responses to these prompts!

The challenge prompts are completely open to interpretation, but I’ve written up a little explanation for why I chose each one, and what I’ll be writing about that day, to give you some ideas about what to write in case you find yourself stuck.

March Prompts

  1. Why Be Positive? – Maybe it seems blindingly obvious that positivity is a good thing, but did you also know that engaging in positive thinking is a choice? We can all choose positive thinking, so why do some of us more naturally gravitate towards it, while others tend to be more pessimistic, and what can we do to consciously choose positivity in our daily lives?
  2. Gratitude – Gratitude journaling is a popular method for coping with tough times. It’s also a strategy that actually works! Do you currently use gratitude journaling in your life, or have you ever used this method to deal with a difficult situation?
  3. Journaling – In addition to gratitude journaling, journaling in general is a great daily habit to develop. Some people track their moods, others capture their thoughts, some do morning pages, and still others do just one line per day. There are lots of different journaling styles. Do you keep any sort of journal or log, and how do you find it helpful?
  4. Brainstorming – Brainstorming is another technique writers often use for getting out of a rut or sorting through issues. It’s incredibly easy to do, and a lot of it involves simply keeping your pen moving over the paper until your time is up. What kinds of things do you use brainstorming for, and how might it help you with different issues in your life?
  5. Fuel – We all know we need fuel for our bodies, in terms of food, but have you ever considered the possibility that you really are what you eat? What does that mean, in terms of both your mental and physical health? Are you a Cheeto or a stalk of celery? And what kinds of fuel work best for your body?
  6. Miracle Morning – I read The Miracle Morning at the start of this year, and have been trying to put it into practice ever since. I’m not sure it’s the best daily routine for me, personally, but I’ll share some of my ideas about daily routines, as well as my own routine for starting each day off right.
  7. Productivity – How do positivity and productivity work with one another, and is the ultimate goal of positivity simply to become more productive?
  8. Proof(Reading) – Today is National Proofreading Day, so on the one hand let’s talk about correcting (and dealing with) mistakes. On the other, let’s talk about proof in terms of positive thinking. Does this stuff actually work, or are we all just kidding ourselves? What’s some proof you’ve experienced in your own life, as a result of practicing positivity?
  9. Radical Candor – What is radical candor, and how can practicing it lead to increasing positivity in your life?
  10. Accountability – Why is accountability necessary, and how does it relate to positivity?
  11. Spring Forward! – Today’s the day we spring forward as Daylight Savings Time begins, but it’s also a day to ponder whether positive thinking has given us more of a spring in our step. How is positive thinking affecting your mood?
  12. The Happiness Project – I really enjoyed this book by Gretchen Rubin, and wanted to share some of my thoughts about it today. Have you read the book? What did you think? What might your own version of a “happiness project” look like?
  13. Superstitions – What kinds of superstitious beliefs are holding you back?
  14. What Went Well? – A positive thinking exercise designed by Dr. Martin Seligman, he suggests taking time at the end of each day to ask yourself “What went well today?” Try to come up with at least three things, to increase your overall happiness.
  15. True Confessions – Today is True Confessions Day, so let’s share a few confessions and ponder how sharing our truth actually makes us happier people.
  16. Constructive Journalism – Journalism traditionally looks at the negative side of the world, calling attention to injustices and inequalities, shining a light on the darkness, but it tends not to offer solutions for these problems, which can make a lot of people decide to shut the news out completely. But what if we were to focus on things that are going right in the world, or opportunities for change? Constructive Journalism seeks to build bridges between people, and to offer them a change to get involved in the news, rather than being passive observers. Let’s share some Constructive Journalism with one another today, and celebrate some of humanity’s successes.
  17. Saints & Sinners – Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I thought a compare/contrast between saints and sinners might be a fun topic. What’s a negative habit you’d like to change into a positive one? How can you transform yourself from a “sinner” into a “saint,” in this regard?
  18. Better Than Before – Another great book by Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before challenges us to examine our personalities to try to build positive habits. What does it mean to be “better than before,” and what kinds of things are you working on, in terms of good or bad habits?
  19. San Diego – Oddly enough, San Diego is a bit of a Mecca in terms of positivity. Lots of people flock here for the warm weather and near-daily sunshine, which can certainly help. Why else is San Diego such a great place to live, if you’re looking to embrace positive thinking? Alternatively, where in the world do you live, and what kinds of resources are there for people who want to embrace positivity in your city?
  20. Equinox – Today is the Spring Equinox, when our daylight hours are just as numerous as our hours of darkness. What kinds of things help you to achieve your own internal equilibrium or equinox, in terms of positivity exercises or actions?
  21. Tracking Wins – Another great exercise for embracing positivity is the concept of tracking your daily “wins.” Suggested by Classy Career Girl founder Anna Runyan, the idea is to create a list of things to do each week, focusing on your Top 3, and then to make a list of items you completed in order to achieve your goals at the end of each day. Similar to the “What went well?” exercise, list 3 things you consider “wins” for the day, to keep yourself focused on moving closer to your bigger goals.
  22. Money – We’ve all got a relationship to money, whether we like to acknowledge it or not, and some of our thoughts on the subject can be decidedly negative. Today I’ll share an exercise that will improve your relationship with money, courtesy of Lisa Jacobs.
  23. Relationships – How can you bring positive thinking and positive psychology techniques into your relationships?
  24. Creativity – What kind of relationship is there between positivity and creativity?
  25. Mood – Tracking your moods can reveal a lot about your life. Do you use mood trackers, and if so, how often do you find yourself feeling positive vs. negative in a weekly or monthly period?
  26. “Slow” Reading – I’ve been participating in the Les Misérables Readalong since the start of this month, and one of my fellow participants has described this as a “slow reading” challenge. What does it mean to read slowly, and how can this be beneficial in our fast-paced world?
  27. Habits – Habit tracking is huge! How do you track your habits (or do you?), and have you seen any changes in your life as a result?
  28. Artist Dates – Part of The Artist’s Way emphasizes taking yourself on “artist days,” and I think this is a great positivity practice, as well. What kinds of dates do you like to go on by yourself, and how do they help boost your mood?
  29. Positivity Classes – I’ve been learning a lot from UPenn’s Coursera classes on Positive Psychology. What other kinds of classes exist, to help improve positive thinking and focus?
  30. Grit – One of the key ingredients in positive psychology is “grit.” What exactly is grit, and can we learn how to be “gritty,” resilient people even in times of crisis?
  31. Lessons Learned – What did you learn this month from practicing a positive outlook, and how will you continue with any of these exercises in the future?

Grab the Free Printable

Click the button to download a free printable copy of these prompts for personal use:

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So, are you ready for a challenge?

Join me on March 1st @ButtontapperOfficial on Instagram, @Buttontapper on Twitter, or in my Buttontapper Challenge Facebook Group for the first day of the March challenge – and spread the word!