According to the Oxford dictionary, a rut is defined as “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” When the workdays get long, things go wrong and you find yourself stressed out, it can be easy to find yourself stuck in a rut with a negative mindset.
Although your mindset does not magically make problems disappear, positivity can make problems manageable and help you approach challenges in a more positive, productive way.
Just like any other muscle, you must exercise your mind to build positivity. If building a positive mindset is a part of your new year goals, here are a few simple exercises to help you achieve just that.
Attitude of gratitude
At least once a day, take time to recognize the people, moments or things in your life that bring you joy and happiness. This is a simple practice that can be done through thank-you notes, acts of kindness, personal reflection or journaling. Research has shown that the practice of gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem and increase resiliency during challenging times.
Surround yourself with positive people
Negativity breeds negativity, but the same can be said for positivity, too. Who do you spend the most time with? Are they building you up or tearing you down? Surrounding yourself with positive people helps build self-esteem and increases your chances of obtaining other goals in your life. Consider the people you spend the most time with and make changes to help assure you are surrounded by optimistic mindsets.
Be kind to yourself
We are our own worst critics, and over time we can form negative images of ourselves that are difficult to overcome. Take time to listen to the voice inside your head and respond with positive self-talk. Researchers at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the University of California – Berkeley found that positive self-talk can improve how we regulate our feelings, thoughts and other behaviors when under stress. For example, rather than telling yourself “I am a failure”, try saying “I will be successful when I try again.”
Find the source of negativity
If you are experiencing a negative mindset, take a moment to evaluate the areas of your life that cause you to be the most negative. If you are unsure, ask a spouse, friend or co-worker for an outsider’s opinion. Often, you or a trusted source will recognize a common area that is the root cause of your mindset. Evaluate those stress points and determine ways to combat them one at a time.
It is important to recognize that positive mindsets are not a band-aid solution to bury negative thoughts. When times are particularly difficult, seek the support of friends, family and medical professionals, if necessary.
Building a positive mindset is no different from building muscle; it is a change that takes time, practice and patience. I hope you consider these simple exercises to help you build a positive mindset for the coming year.
Cassie Sonnentag is Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s director of media relations and outreach. Her and her husband, Allen (Bud), have one daughter and live near Cadott where they are involved in their family’s farm.