by Mara Souza
“Focus on the Positive” is a Pathway project. Do you wonder why? Do you see how Toastmasters International’s values – Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence – connect to “positivity”?
When we have a life full of alacrity, the impact on others is spectacular: better interactions, powerful speeches, and improved leadership presence. Of course, this mindset is easier said than done; everyday realities give us more than enough challenges. Bad circumstances can drive our negative behavior. A negative person can badly influence the ambiance; however, I strongly believe in the positive transformation of thoughts that impact behaviors.
Most likely, you have heard a variety of advice about how to become positive, haven’t you? When we feel blue, being stuck in a hole, it is tough to be positive; it’s normal to feel sad and even demotivated. What we need is to create a habit of developing healthy thoughts. Then, it is much easier to get up and build a resilient and hopeful mindset.
I will share three basic steps that have been working for me:
- Practice gratitude. This sounds like a cliche, but the benefit is scientifically proven. We have much more to be grateful for than to complain about. (See articles at Harvard Health, Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, Time Magazine, and others). I started journaling, not for the first time in my life, but now with more frequency. I started to write down what I was grateful for at the end of the day, or even in the middle of the day – I stopped to remember what I was thankful for. This has been an amazing experience, seeing my problems in a much more manageable way.
- Have a sense of purpose. There is no reason to feel anxious about this statement. That should only remind us to find a reason to live for. With this shift of mindset, I learned that when I help somebody in any way or support others at any time, that brings me purpose.
- Take care of your health. Our diet directly impacts our mood. We need to choose wisely what to eat and drink. There are specific foods that improve our mood (serotonin, the happiness hormone), while others make us sad (bad digestion). We also need to find an exercise routine/movement that brings us joy (not necessarily to become a gym fanatic).
Creating new habits requires effort and perseverance. Choose the right time when you are motivated to start. You have already made an important step in joining Toastmasters.
- When you join a Club, you will be surrounded by people who will help and mentor you to feel comfortable. In a short time, you can have an attitude of gratitude.
- When you accept a role, when you give and receive feedback, and when you prepare a speech with meaningful messages, you demonstrate a sense of your purpose.
- With your speeches, you can inspire your listeners to take care of themselves. Even if parties are not the best examples of serving healthy food, socializing is good for our soul.