Positive Attitude in the Face of Adversity

First published in The Border Mail as “It’s not all bad – positive thinking is the key” on 11-05-20

We are a few months into the pandemic now. While some countries are easing the lockdown, there are some that are still apprehensive. The US is still the epicentre and Australian states are struggling to unify over easing restrictions.  There is a difference of opinion, dispute over action and increase in uncertainty. Where do we stand as individuals? We have two choices. We take the high road - adapt and move on - or we can sit back, stress and complain. If we are to take the former choice, we need optimism. Hope will lead us through all the way. Now, positivity doesn’t grow on trees. It comes from within us. It is made up of our perceptions, our thoughts. Can we create positive thoughts? Yes!

According to the researchers from Kings College in London - who worked with 102 subjects diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder - positive self-talk reduces negative thinking. Why do we need to reduce negative thinking? A generalised opinion is that positive thinking leads to happiness. But it's far deeper and more rewarding than that. A research study by positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson proves that positive thinking builds skills, boosts health and improves work. How? Negative thoughts make us focus on a single issue and prevent us from identifying other opportunities around us. Whereas positive thoughts that lead to joy, love and contentment, open our minds to possibilities. A broad view of the opportunities pushes us to build new skills and to utilize our resources.  In a nutshell, it helps build a growth mindset that leads to success.

We are in luck here; positive attitude has been classified as a skill. And skills can be developed.  Research supports the verdict. Let’s take a leap to cultivate positive thinking in the face of the adversity – COVID-19. Let’s fight it with optimism and pave our road to success with optimum health and improved proficiencies.

Positive self-talk is the first step towards creating positive thoughts. It’s all about focusing on your achievements rather than your failures. Valuing your strengths instead of fretting over your weaknesses. In our current scenario, it’s about recognising the good that has come out of the lockdown rather than the adversity. At first the concept might seem absurd to you. But if you dig deeper you will realise that we have had more me-time and family-time than we ever did. We connected with more friends during this period. We cooked healthy food and had time to exercise. We didn’t have to travel to work and tire ourselves. Instead we worked in peace from our home. Some of us invested our spare time in learning new skills and investigating career transition. We had time to discover our hidden talents. We contributed to our children’s learning by supporting the remote learning platform from school. Do you know that family engagement in education is the single highest contributor towards student achievement?

Reminisce positive experiences and cherish them. Forgive and forget. Wake up with a positive affirmation. Plan a productive day. Pronounce your achievements. Count your blessings. Several studies show an absolute link between positive outlook on life with a boost in body’s immune system. It lowers blood pressure, counters stress, helps in weight loss and maintains healthy blood sugar levels. It's your perfect vaccine against corona virus. 

Another factor that greatly contributes to positive emotions and thoughts is your connection with positive friends, co-workers and mentors. Invest your time in strengthening positive relationships. Connect with people who elevate you rather than those who devalue you.  

Use your failures as lessons for the future. Recognise your weaknesses only to built new skills. Remember, abilities are not always innate, they can be developed. Some may take longer than others. But perseverance will take us all to the finish line.

Positive psychology tells us that positive emotions correspond to contentment in our past, happiness in our present and hope for our future.  Focus on the present. Take one step at a time and hope for the best. Remember, time doesn’t wait for anyone. It keeps moving ahead. Just as the good times pass, the bad times pass too. Its speed is dependent on your stance on it. A positive approach will transform adversities into opportunities. When one door closes, you are given a chance to knock on several others- the one’s you thought never existed. Develop a positive attitude and conquer the adversity!

About the writer... 

Ayesha is a Career Development Consultant who has two gifted children. She is a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA). She has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, Graduate Certificate in Careers Education and Development (RMIT) and Certificate of Gifted Education (UNSW). She also holds a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and Certificate of Fashion Illustration. 

She worked for a multinational engineering manufacturing industry before switching to career counselling, writing, teaching and case management.  She has worked in the British and American schooling systems and is now working with the Victorian Selected Entry and Regional Schools. Her diverse experience of working around the globe in the education and corporate sector and strong academic background enables her to see the bigger picture.