The Pessimist’s Positivity Challenge: Why be positive?

As we kick off the March edition of the Buttontapper Challenge, it’s time for a big question: Why be positive?

Maybe it seems blindingly obvious that positivity is a good thing. It is, after all, the word’s very definition! But did you also know that engaging in positive thinking is a choice?

It’s true: we all make choices about our mindset, daily, from the moment we grouchily hit our snooze buttons each morning to the moment we fall into bed, exhausted, at the end of the day. Although many of our circumstances may be out of our control, our attitude is not. We can choose to accept a situation or even embrace it, or we can rage against our fate, and even fall into a state of learned helplessness. Which one seems a better use of your energy?

That all depends on you.

While we can all choose positive thinking, why do some of us more naturally gravitate towards it, while others tend to be more pessimistic? I’ll admit I’m much more of a pessimist (or “realist,” as some would argue) than an optimist. As the old saying goes, I prefer to expect the best, but plan for the worst. In taking several Positive Psychology classes online, I discovered that negative emotions actually have a “high survival value,” meaning that they give us specific actions to take in response to these feelings, such as the infamous “fight or flight” reactions. Positive emotions, on the other hand, tend not to lead to any direct action – although they can certainly be used to create enduring skills and resources, as well as temporarily feeling good about ourselves.

So what can we do to consciously choose positivity in our daily lives?

In the course I’m currently taking, the focus is on “Applications and Interventions,” or exercises that people can take in their daily lives in order to focus more on positive emotions and attitudes. The teacher of this course, James Pawelski, suggests four ways that we can all work to cultivate positive emotions:

  1. Remember a time when you felt positive emotions
  2. Act like you are feeling those emotions
  3. Seek out situations where you will feel those emotions
  4. Be more mindful of your feelings

Have you ever tried cultivating positive emotions in your life? Did you use any of these methods, or was there something else that worked for you? What is your goal in seeking out positive emotions or focusing on positivity?

Take the 30-Day Social Media Positivity Pledge!

Start cultivating personal positivity today: sign up for my 30-Day Social Media Positivity Pledge, to show you’re committed to making a change. Enter your blog’s URL on the Linky list below, then hop over to other participants’ blogs during the month of March for more ideas on how to spread and embrace positive thinking. It’s fun, and free!

You can also grab the badge for your blog or social media profiles, to show your participation:


Don’t forget to link back to this post!