Ever had a fantastic day ruined by one small mishap – stepped in a puddle, got cut off by another driver – that is the first thing you relate about your day when you get home? Adults these days tend to internalize and obsess over the negative. This was not always so. Humans are not hardwired to be negative – just spend some time with children and you will know that this is true. Somewhere in the process of growing up, we become conditioned into a negative-focused mindset.
Just as the power of negativity is immense and contagious, so is the power of positivity. It can lift your mood, increase your creativity and productivity and attract the right people to you. But this doesn’t just happen on its own – it takes effort and commitment to retrain yourself to focus on the positive. The good news is, it can be done! Here are a few ideas for how to cultivate positivity in your life and art practice.
Create a “happy” file. This could be a physical notebook, a draft in your email, or a folder on your desktop. Every time someone gives you a compliment or an encouragement, add it to the file. Taking the time to write down, copy and paste, or even take a screenshot to save the compliment will help you internalize it. Over time, you will find that you are paying more attention and tuning into the positive. A bonus is that any time you’re feeling particularly down, you can always open the file and get a boost (warning: only do this in moderation, or it might go to your head!).
Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of every day, write down 5 things from your day that you are grateful for. Anything counts: you can be grateful for modern plumbing, a healthy meal or simply getting out of bed this morning. Like the happy file, the gratitude list will shift your focus during your day, so you find yourself counting up positives to record that evening. If you need a motivator, ask someone to do this with you, and send each other your lists via email or text at the end of each day. This way you are held accountable, and you can also celebrate the other person’s list.
Create movement. Negative energy gets stored in our bodies, so you have to let it out. Doing some kind of movement daily can achieve this – whether it’s walking, stretching, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or a more traditional exercise regime. My personal favorite? Turning the music up loud and dancing it out (with the curtains closed, of course!). Shake it off. Your body will thank you.
Have an idea or method for cultivating positivity in your life? Share it in the comments below.
This is the third installment in Self-Care for Artists; click here to read Part 1: Wear Sunscreen.
Christine Rasmussen’s oil paintings explore themes of boundaries, belonging and femininity. Christine describes herself as a ‘global nomad’ – she was born to American parents in Pakistan, and has lived in 13 cities across Pakistan, Vietnam and the United States. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Art Practice (with Honors) and Peace & Conflict Studies. Her works are in private collections in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. Christine is now based in Los Angeles, CA, where she enjoys art, books and blogs.