I cannot remember when exactly I was introduced to the romantic comedy film, Pretty Woman. What I know is that I will watch it whenever it is on TV and I have been watching it for the past 10 years.
So the other night, the 1990 film was on again and sure enough, I found myself hiding under an electric blanket giving the film my undivided attention. Every year I ask myself why I enjoy the film so much. Perhaps I am a romantic? Perhaps I enjoy the witty exchange between characters? Call me slow, but after 10 years, I finally found the answer this time around!
I found my answer between the line "you have a lot of potentials" and the main character Vivian Ward's vulnerable yet unfailing faith for a better future. After all, I'm a positive person who struggles with the world's constant negativity and found myself drawn to Pretty Woman's fairy-tale happy ever after ending.
Obviously it was a movie; such a fairy-tale ending hardly happens in the real world. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by how Vivian Ward remained positive despite her unconventional choice of occupation. Her deeply buried positivity fascinated me.
The beneficial effect of having a positive state of mind is well known and the link between success and positivity has also been well documented. This is important as this offers us a way to manage and cope with the obstacles that we are facing, both in our personal and professional life.
So how exactly do we stay positive when too often we are surrounded by the all-powerful naysayers? Yes, you got me right, naysayers are powerful. They are so powerful that they actually cultivate self-doubt and stifle innovative spirit. So what exactly can we do to build up our resilience to the naysayers and maintain, if not continue to grow, our positivity in the face of challenges? And here is how.
Positivity is about choices.
Having a positive frame of mind is a matter of choice for most people. Sure, for patients with a mental illness like depression, such a choice may not come naturally or even possible without the assistance of medical intervention.
But for most people, choosing to have a positive attitude should be a lifelong priority. It should be something we all strive for consciously.
But what if you were born a "gloom-and-doomer"? You will be glad to know that you can still be saved.
To choose a positive mindset sometimes means taking deliberate positive actions.
William James's neuroplasticity theory in 1890 essentially states that we can re-wire our brain through repetitive exercises. By deliberately having positive thoughts and undertaking positive activities can actually strengthen the area of the brain that stimulates positive emotions.
And as Professor Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology expert with over 25 years of experience from the University of North Carolina, would tell you positive emotions are like nutrients, which we all need in our daily life if we were to "become more resourceful versions of ourselves".
So next time you are feeling negative or want to build up your positive energy in order to fight off those naysayers, make a list of positive words such as future, happy and hope. Write them down and chant them if you have to.
Apparently, even a simple exercise like this repeated over time builds our mental resilience. This explains why inspiration quotes are such a hit on social media. To cement positivity in your life, take steps to plan it and do up a simple “positivity plan” that you can follow to "store up" your positivity.
Busting naysayers through an allied circle
Working with naysayers is painful. They can be so risk adverse and set in their way that sometimes you wonder if they were born in another century. But there is hope (remember, you are reading an article about being positive).
Ever heard of "we are stronger when we stand together"? That is exactly right. To combat the all-powerful naysayers and their negativity, sometimes it requires group power. This means you need to strategically build an allied force over the course of your life by identifying those who will champion for you when the time comes.
For example, when I worked as a project manager in a conservative and risk adverse sector, trying to push through new concepts such as big data and simulation at times almost seemed unachievable. But I knew I had my boss and my team as my ally.
While I was doing the selling, I drew on their occasional “I think we should explore this further” comment. This not just built my confidence, it also built my credibility in front of everyone including those naysayers.
My allied circle was my safety net, who not only acted as my source of positivity, they were also the people with whom I could bounce off big ideas with. And that proved to be invaluable in an environment where innovative culture had not yet flourished.
Face it, you are unlikely going to test your new ideas with naysayers, because all you are likely to get is a no. So spend some time over the next few years to strategically build up your naysayer-buster network. This way you can perpetuate your positivity and continue to effect meaningful changes without your life.
Now having shared my positive tips, I may just go back to my old time favourite film and immerse myself in the positive of Pretty Woman!
About the author
To connect with Suzi Chen, visit her bio here.