Having a positive outlook does not mean that negative things never happen in life. It simply means that those who have a leadership mindset do not allow negativity to prevent them from moving forward to create a life filled with purpose, passion, and meaning. However, it is not always easy to maintain a focus on the future and a positive perspective. So, here are some ways that a leader can build positive perspective into his or her daily routine:
1. Be grateful. Creating time every day to express gratitude is very powerful. This can be practiced in many ways. For example, last month I was at a meeting of human resources leaders from several area organizations. Before we jumped into a discussion on how to improve employee engagement, one of these leaders stopped and said she first wanted to share her gratitude for being invited to participate in the group and the discussion. She had specifically created an opportunity to build gratitude into the meeting even though this was not specifically planned. Another option many people use is to start and end each day with either a prayer, a meditation, or simply a personal reflection in which they express gratitude. I know of some people who post on social media or a blog three things they are grateful for each day. Others may keep a journal in which they write down things they are grateful for each day. Finally, a concept I recently read about is to have a gratitude partner. In this situation someone working on expressing their gratitude may schedule a weekly phone call with their gratitude partner for the purpose of sharing and discussing things they experienced in the previous week that made them grateful.
2. Maintain a Future Focus. If the past was negative, or if today is challenging, it is important to focus on the future, and to work actively to create a future that will be more positive. This can be achieved by being more intentional and mindful in everyday actions. Determining to intentionally choose a more positive path forward rather than merely drifting through life reacting to whatever happens can help. When your focus is only on the present, with no vision of where you want to be in the future, then it is very difficult to create the more positive future you want. One of the things I try to help my coaching and workshop clients with is developing a positive vision of the future they want for themselves, and especially for the kind of person they want to become. Envisioning a positive future, and then focusing on always aiming toward that vision can help put past and present challenges into perspective.
3. Be Active. Getting out in nature, moving, and attuning your physical body with positive surroundings has a direct influence on the emotions and feelings of power, positiveness, and well being. Standing tall, and stretching your body to fill a larger space has also been found to flood the body with brain chemicals that encourage positive feelings. You don’t have to be an athlete, but find some way to move, walk, dance, stretch, stand tall wherever you are – and especially in the outdoors or other natural surroundings when possible.
4. Smile and Laugh. We have all heard about the power of laughter being a great medicine, and this is supported by science. People who smile more and laugh more have a more positive outlook on life, even when facing difficult challenges. Of course it could be argued that people who are healthy and happy simply smile and laugh more, but think about how amazing it is when we see someone who is battling a devastating illness or situations crack a joke, smile and laugh. Sometimes we all take ourselves too seriously, and could all lighten up a bit.
5. Surround Yourself With Positive People. Don’t tolerate being around negative people any more than you absolutely have to. We all know some people who constantly complain about things, yet never seem to do anything to get themselves out of the situations they are complaining about. Don’t commiserate with these people. In fact, don’t hang around with them. Instead, surround yourselves with people who are positive, forward thinking, and who strive to get out of problematic situations instead of only complaining about them.
6. Give Back. Show kindness to others. Help cheer them up when they are down. Volunteer in your community. Pay it forward and give back in whatever way is most meaningful to you. I know so many people who at the end of the day simply want to make a positive difference for others. They want a life and work that are meaningful and that have a greater purpose than simply satisfying day to day needs. Plus it feels great knowing you have helped someone else.