HOW TO FOCUS ON THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE.
Are you able to focus on the good things in life, even if times are tough? If you are one of those people, you have a positive attitude but you don't wallow in negativity. Does this mean that you ignore your problems to avoid negative feelings?
Of course not.
Focusing on the positive is not about ignoring things that are bothering you. It is about seeing the silver lining, which can often lead to an increase in positive feelings and overall well-being.
People who are more optimistic are generally happier and more likely to engage in healthier behaviors. Let's take a look at what it means to focus on the good things in life, what the benefits are, and how you can practice it regularly.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FOCUS ON THE GOOD?
When you focus on the good things in life, you direct your attention to the positive side of things.
When I was a child and I would complain about something, my mom would tell me to “be positive.” That phrase carried me through challenging times throughout my early adult life.
Focusing on the good helped me get through a lot of difficult things.
However, as I got older, I realized that the mantra I adopted from my mom didn’t always work and I wondered why that was.
AVOIDING THE ISSUES
I didn’t learn until later that I was actually avoiding the unpleasant issues in my life so I didn't have to face them. While feeling positive made me feel good inside, it didn't help because the negative feelings would always resurface.
I didn't recognize those negative patterns because I chose to sweep them under the rug.
Avoiding those bad feelings only made them worse. My problems went away when started to I acknowledge and resolve them.
Being optimistic is great, but be sure you're not avoiding serious personal issues. You don’t want to create a cycle of negativity.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of positivity.
BENEFITS TO FOCUSING ON THE GOOD
When you’re focused on the positive side of things, you're also training yourself to have healthier behaviors.
There is a positive correlation between positive thinking and physical health.
Studies have shown that optimism may help increase your overall well-being. Having a happy and fulfilled life is not just a result of having great health, but it can also lead to a longer life.
Thinking positively is about seeing the silver lining, even in the face of adversity. Positive thinking can be part of a healthy and balanced life, not just the absence of disease.
Being positive is correlated with increased longevity. In a study of nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, researchers found that the nuns who had written more positive content in their essays lived an average of 10 years longer than than the ones who wrote fewer positive emotions.
The study followed the nuns for 6 decades. Researchers concluded that the happier nuns lived longer than the less happy ones (not depressed).
RESILIENCE TO THE COMMON COLD
Having positive emotional experiences can help increase your resilience to the common cold. In a study of 334 healthy adults exposed to the rhinovirus (common cold), data revealed that the ones who had more positive experiences, such as being happy and relaxed, were less likely to catch a cold and reported having fewer symptoms. The ones who had negative experiences reported having more symptoms of the cold.
PEOPLE WHO ARE OPTIMISTIC HAVE HEALTHIER BEHAVIORS
People who are more engaged and optimistic have healthier behaviors. They are better problems solvers and have higher quality social interactions than those who are more pessimistic and do not have support. These behaviors suggest that people who are more positive have healthier lives.
INCREASED SATISFACTION IN LIFE
Having a purpose in life and feeling fulfilled is a benefit of having a positive outlook on life. In Japan, people with “ikigai”, or a sense of life worth living, have decreased mortality rates compared with those who lacked ikigai.
LOWER RISK OF HYPERTENSION
Research has shown that elderly people who volunteer are more likely to live healthier and longer lives. Older US adults who volunteered regularly had a lower risk of hypertension. This was especially true for those who volunteered for "other-oriented motives" to achieve a sense of meaning and purpose in life versus those who volunteered for "self-oriented motives."
“When you focus on the good, the good gets better.” -Abraham Hicks
8 WAYS TO FOCUS ON THE GOOD
One tip to help you stay positive is to unplug so you can reconnect to what is most important to you. Unplugging helps you focus on the good things in life by reconnecting you to yourself and others.
It also helps you refresh and reset so you come back with more energy and focus.
One simple way to do this is to limit the time you spend online and on your digital devices. You don’t have to quit cold turkey. You can start with one thing that is the most distracting to you.
Try staying away from that distraction for 24 hours. When you are ready or feel like you can do more, add more to your “detox regime." Then find a time to detox from technology that is more suited to your schedule.
Another technique you can try is to be more intentional. When you become more intentional, you do things because you choose to, not because someone told you to or because you feel obligated to.
Becoming more intentional helps you bring more awareness into your life. You become more focused on the things that bring you joy, happiness, and meaning.
Start by being more intentional about how you spend your time. Define your core values and eliminate the things that don’t align with them anymore. When you become clear on what you really want in life, you will prioritize the things that matter most to you.
When you spend more time on the things that are important to you, you will be more intentional about where you focus your attention.
Affirmations can be a powerful tool to help you focus on your best qualities and even bolster your overall well-being. Self-affirmations are what you say about yourself in a positive light.
They’re helpful because they create pathways that light up the reward center of your brain. When you practice them regularly, you help boost your feelings of self-worth and happiness.
If you want to start practicing self-affirmations, think about an area of your life that you want to improve.
It can be:
- A relationship
Say your affirmation (to yourself or out loud) in the present tense and feel it in your body. For example, if you want to have more money, you say, “Money flows to me easily with great abundance.” Or if you want to boost your confidence, you say, “I am feeling amazingly powerful and intelligent.” Attach a positive emotion to it to give it more power.
DEFINE YOUR VALUES
Everyone has their own set of core values. Yet we allow ourselves to lose sight of what they are because we are afraid to upset others.
It is important to connect with yourself so you don’t get lost in the values of society, your friends, and even your family.
Defining what you value in life will help you focus on what matters most to you.
It starts with being completely honest with yourself. To define your values, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the most important thing to me right now?
- What makes me excited?
- Who do I look up to?
- Why did I choose my significant other?
- Why did I choose my career?
- What would I be doing if time and money were not a factor?
- When did I face adversity or a challenge?
Humans are social creatures by nature. This is why finding people who are like minded and supportive is good for your overall well-being. Create a support system for yourself. Surround yourself with people who are positive and make you feel supported.
If you don't have a support system, making minimal contact with others, even strangers, can have a positive impact on your mood.
Here are some things you can do to increase your support system:
- Have a coffee break with a friend.
- Get professional help.
- Ask the cashier at your local grocery store how their day is going.
- Talk to a close confidante.
- Smile or say hello to a stranger.
These are just small ways to increase your support system and optimism.
Being thankful helps you focus on what you already have instead of what you lack. When you are grateful for what you have, you open the door to more abundance.
Practicing gratitude helps you focus on the things in life that bring you joy.
When I challenged myself to write a gratitude journal for 30 days, I discovered that the small things in life, not the big things, gave me great joy.
Focusing on the things I was grateful for made me appreciate all the things in my life I took for granted. I was even thankful for washing the dishes, something I am not very fond of.
Start writing just one thing that you’re grateful for each day for 7 days. Write down your feelings as well. Then compare your notes after a week. You may be surprised with what you learn about yourself.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Volunteering or practicing a random act of kindness helps you stay focused on the positive things in life.
- Volunteering is giving your time to do something for someone else without any monetary compensation.
- A random act of kindness is doing a spontaneous act of kindness for someone else without expecting something in return.
Both methods will help you take your focus away from yourself and instead turn it toward someone else. It not only makes the other person feel good, you also end up feeling good inside, especially if the act is truly to serve others.
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of the present moment in order to experience life more deeply. You can practice mindfulness in various ways.
Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between the practice of mindfulness and improved physical and mental health.
You can practice mindfulness formally by meditating. Sit somewhere quiet and get comfortable. Focus on your breath gently with eyes closed. Or focus on a fixed spot with eyes open.
Practicing each day will help you gain more clarity and focus. You don't need a lot of time. Just 5 minutes each day will suffice.
Alternatively, you can practice informally with the walking meditation or raisin meditation. Both of these practices don't involve sitting still, but they do require focus and attention. You can practice these minfulness skills every day to help you focus on the good things in life.
When you learn how to focus on the good things in life each day, you are opening yourself up to more joy, happiness, and satisfaction in life. You are also more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, which can improve your quality of life.
Being positive doesn’t mean that you ignore everything else to feel good all the time. It is a tool that can help you face your challenges so you can learn from them and evolve as a human being.
MORE WAYS TO FOCUS ON THE GOOD
What helps you focus on the good side of things? I would love to know your tips on how to stay positive. Please share your story or tip in the comments below.