Our 2021 goal? Stop thinking that positivity is a personality trait. In fact, while studies implicate that there’s a genetic component to optimism, it’s estimated to be only about 25% inherited – which leaves a solid majority up to a combination of your circumstances and choices.
The science-backed power of positivity is real:
- It reduces the effects of generalized anxiety disorder (Eagleson et al., 2017)
- It’s been linked to longer life spans (Danner, Snowdon & Friesen, 2001)
- It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, resulting in positive life outcomes (Lyubomirsky, King & Diener, 2005)
- It’s been linked to overall better health outcomes, including improved cardiovascular health and better blood pressure (Hernandez et al., 2015)
- Resilience programs, that teach positive thought strategies, have proven effective in mitigating PTSD and depressive symptoms (Brunwasser, Gillham & Kim, 2009)
As coaches, we know that any goal becomes attainable when we break it down into digestible action bites. We’ve pulled together five tips to help us practice positivity in our own lives and for encouraging our clients to practice positivity in theirs. Our goals feature makes it possible to track clients’ progress towards these sub-goals and the overarching goal of practicing positivity, right within our platform.
1. Adopt an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude is acknowledgement and appreciation for others and for ourselves. Take five minutes at the start or end of the day to jot down three things you’re thankful for along with a “thank you” note to yourself. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as remembering to thank your mail person, your barista, a drive-thru or food service worker or tacking on a genuine, “I appreciate you,” at the close of an email to a client or coworker. Remember to acknowledge yourself, your body, your mind, your commitment to your goals and carve out time to show gratitude to yourself.
2. Practice positive self-talk
Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten from a coach and licensed clinical social worker was to talk yourself through any hiccups, issues, or just day-to-day events in the same way you would your closest friend. Oftentimes, we tend to be harder on ourselves than is warranted or constructive. If we forget about an appointment, we might say to ourselves, “I can’t believe I did that. Why am I always so forgetful? There’s something wrong with me,” but in what world would we ever say that to a friend! Instead, we’d say, “I’m sure they’ll understand! You have so much on your mind these days, you’re doing a great job of staying on top of things and this was just a minor blip!” An important element of positive psychology is to reframe our conversations with ourselves – we’re not invalidating or avoiding our circumstances, instead we’re altering our frame of reference.
3. Flag and avoid toxic positivity
Toxic positivity fails to recognize, acknowledge and honor our deeply human emotions. For example, telling a client or friend to, “Remember to look on the bright side!” or “Just focus on the positives,” isn’t constructive and doesn’t encourage healthy positivity. It’s important to remember, for ourselves and our clients, that our experiences and emotions are valid; that we should accept things we can’t change and problem solve for those we can. It’s not reasonable – or even healthy – to avoid negative emotions. But practicing positivity calls on us to reshape the way we digest these emotions, process the situation cognitively and craft reasonable solutions for moving forward.
4. Leverage music as medicine
At our November Symposium event, Walter Werzowa highlighted the science behind using music as medicine. Music has been shown to release endorphins and regulate catecholamine levels along with distracting our minds from negative thoughts (Holden & Holden, 2013). Along with active cognitive tools for reshaping our mindset towards positivity, taking quick, daily music breaks can seriously impact how we handle stress, experience pain and ultimately deal with categorically negative situations.
5. Celebrate your wins!
This one goes for coaches and our clients alike. Especially as coaches, we so often focus on helping others achieve their goals, that we forget to celebrate our own. Celebrate the tiny goals – like tallying up a tip from your receipt without a calculator or remembering someone’s birthday without having to check your calendar or a long-term goal like receiving your NBHWC certification – remember to take a minute to do a happy dance or take a day to reward yourself by doing something you love. Goal setting and tracking, both personally and for our clients, is so important here, because it’s hard to focus on our wins if they’re not in our line of sight! Our latest Goals feature makes it easy to carve out goals with clients, no matter how small, track them in real time and celebrate together as soon as they’re accomplished. There’s no better feeling than meeting your goals – except maybe helping others meet theirs!
At YourCoach, we’re more than just a practice management platform – we’re a #CoachingCommunity that’s here to celebrate your wins and encourage one another to practice positivity in everything we do. Don’t forget to reach out to mentors and co-coaches through the app to discuss positivity challenges and best practices – and feel free to share your tips with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to be incorporated in our upcoming social posts.
Looking forward to continuing our practice of positivity through the new year and always. We’re grateful for you all and are feeling optimistic about the year ahead!