Life is full of ups and downs, and the older I get, the more complicated and overwhelming the world seems. As a person sails on the waves of life, new problems and challenges appear on the horizon, and it is those problems and challenges that can cause stress and worry to dominate our thoughts.
I have faced many challenges and problems in my recent life, and with my career and personal goals set, the mountain is not getting any flatter.
Despite all that, I feel more in control and less stressed now than I did 5 years ago when my only worry was whether or not I would be able to do my math homework in time. I use a very simple, yet immensely powerful cue: turning every negative into a positive.
I first heard about this cue a few years ago, when I was into lifting weights. I was following a few athletes on Youtube, among them being the bodybuilder Rich Piana. While I did not agree with many things he said, he was one of the most honest and down-to-earth people I’ve ever had the fortune to listen to. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2017.
One of the phrases Rich often used in his videos was I try to turn every negative into a positive. Back then, I didn’t think much of this phrase and interpreted it more like a quote that someone would post on Facebook on top of a motivational photo of nature.
However, this cue is now something that I live by. It has helped me to keep my composure and focus when facing big challenges or seemingly disastrous problems. The best thing of all is that it is literally the simplest thing to do. When something negative happens, I shift my mind to finding the first positive consequence.
Have I missed my bus and the next one is only in one hour? Well, at least I’ll be able to do some walking in the fresh air!
Have I procrastinated all day? Well, at least it will make me angry that I did it and I’ll be able to use these powerful emotions to procrastinate less next time!
Do I have to present something that I am not happy with in front of everyone? Well, at least I will learn how to present suboptimal products and improve my communication skills!
Does my back hurt? Well, at least it will force me to research good posture tricks and back exercises, which I will hopefully integrate into my daily routine!
One trick I often use when trying to make a positive out of a negative is to make it a learning experience or set some challenges for myself.
I have to go to that social event and I know no one there? Well, at least I’ll practice my social skills. Let’s try to talk to at least one new person!
Not only does this way of thinking make me less stressed, but there are other benefits.
First of all, it allows me to learn from my mistakes and problems, which is probably the best way to learn anything (except skydiving).
Also, it allows me to step out of my comfort zone and be more fearless. Stepping out of the comfort zone is usually something negative; a problem or a challenge. If I can find something positive in that, I’ll be more incentivized to do it. In fact, I might even seek these problems and challenges on my own, because I see positive things in them. Being more fearless also allows me to help others improve by giving them honest feedback and constructive criticism.