Lots of articles about positive thinking will try to convince you to think positive, and explain why it is good. Have you read any of these? But there is one problem – if you lack positivity it is quite difficult to wake up the next morning and suddenly “start thinking positive”.
But there is a way to develop the habit of positive thinking and I will share it here, I will tell what can you DO if you want to become a (more) positive person.
First, I will share my experiences, and then I will give guidelines for you if you decide to try this at home.
Now, a little reminder what I consider being positive thinking:
- Noticing good things and paying attention to them.
- Noticing bad things and paying attention to them.
- A belief that we can improve the situation.
- Noticing or inventing ways to improve the situation.
If you want to know more – you can read the full article.
Have you ever had such days, when they were absolutely boring, gloomy and hard? Seems that nothing, absolutely nothing good or interesting has happened. And I was thinking: if they say, that you must enjoy life, so what to enjoy? Because ABSOLUTELY nothing positive happened. Since I studied logic and have some level of critical thinking, I raised a question – Really anything??? And I decided to accept this challenge.
On 11th November 2012, I started a challenge called “365 positive days“. The rules were simple:
- To write the most positive thing happened to me EVERY DAY for 365 days in a row
- If I skip one day – I must write about that day tomorrow
- If nothing positive happened – I MUST FIND something, but cannot lie to myself
- Positive thing I described as something that made my day better
The challenge was so exciting, that it lasted for 385 days and finished on 30th November 2013.
Now let’s start with my experience of writing, finding the most positive thing, and analyzing. Then I will give you the guidelines.
Effects of writing
After completing this challenge, I had a firm habit of writing and reflecting every day. The secret is that if I want to record the most positive thing every day, I need to write every day, otherwise I will simply forget what happened to me. Can you remember what happened to you 3 days ago? If you can – good for you, but I cannot. There were funny moments when after skipping the writing for some days, I was confused trying to remember which event happened on which day.
That’s why even when leaving for a trip, camping, party or whatever, I always had a notebook and a pencil with me. After returning – I always rewrote things to the “official” challenge diary.
That’s why I still write my diary every day.
Raising a question every day “What is the most positive thing today?” taught me the almost magic power of raising questions. Sometimes it seemed that I have nothing to write because NOTHING happened. But after raising a question, the brain starts searching for an answer and I find myself doing this in writing. Even without having an answer I was able to write a page or two.
So, If you lack inspiration for creating – ask yourself a question. Any question.
If there is a chaos of thoughts in your head – write. I included this advice in my article about how to deal with overthinking.
When you write, your thinking really slows down. You cannot have fast blurry thoughts, each idea must be made specific, then converted to words and then your hand must draw those curves or strokes resembling letters.
It is easier to make decisions, make choices, summarize in writing. Just easier.
Experiences of finding the most positive thing
Seems like an easy task – just sit down and write the most positive thing!
There were days when everything was gray and gloom. Then you understand, that you cannot climb a mountain every day, or finish an amazing project every day. There are days which are not WOW-days. And those days also have the most positive thing, just the level of positivity is somewhat lower. Such days teach you to enjoy simple things like the snow outside the window, lunch of the day in the canteen, nice words you heard today, a piece of chocolate before going to write.
Sometimes I even had to reflect all the day from early morning till the very moment of writing to find anything that made my gray day a bit orange or green. But I always succeeded. There was no single day without a positive thing, no matter how small it was.
Sometimes I remembered my challenge during the day time. Then I started thinking – is anything positive happening right now? Can I do anything positive? After doing something that fits into my diary I was feeling happy and calm, like having finished the most important task of the day.
I also cheated a bit. If I knew in advance, that some day might be boring, I tried to plan events so that even that day would have something positive in it. There were periods when days and weeks were sequences of pre-planned positive events. And what’s the most amazing – sometimes unexpected things happened, they destroyed my plans, and they were more positive than planned events.
And the last but not least experience. There is a difference between the usual day and the special day (travel, weekend, event, presentation). If I need to search through the usual day to find a positive thing, then the special day is full of such things. And now imagine that you have trained yourself for several months to notice them. How much more you will notice? WOW! It seems that all your cells are filled with some kind of magic energy!
WOW day becomes more WOW. Non-WOW day becomes less non-WOW.
This is the main effect of finding the most positive thing every day.
Analysis and findings
After writing a positive thing for 385 days in a row, I really wanted to read through all of them. Now imagine that you read a story of your life, and everything in it is positive! What would be the feeling?
If you have facebook or any other social network account, I guess you have encountered such a feeling, that “everyone has holidays all the time”. The photos from holidays are never ending. You are sitting in your office busy with boring tasks, or at home doing household, or studying something dull, but everyone on the other side of the screen is having holidays and posting how much amazing time they had and uploading photos with beaches, mountains, waterfalls…
You and I know – this is just an illusion. Not everyone is having holidays all the time. Even if you have 180 friends and each of them can travel only two days a year, it is possible that you will receive holiday photos every day. But it will still raise jealousy.
Now imagine feeling jealousy for yourself. You know what did you do last year, you know there were ups and downs, easy days and hard days, tears and smiles. But now you are reading an absolutely positive story of some incredibly lucky person, and that person is … YOU. This might set your mind free from jealousy. Every time you see someone posting amazing photos from amazing events – you just KNOW it’s only the half of the picture.
I tried to do a thorough analysis of my positive things to know more about myself. Isn’t it interesting to understand what do you really like by not just sitting and thinking, but analyzing real world data about yourself? I guess it is. I got lots of insights about myself, but I want to share one insight that is important for introverts.
My way of analyzing was simple – I tagged each thing with up to 3 tags and counted them.
Five most common tags were:
Did you see that? People was the most common positive thing happening to me! Even introverts enjoy people, is it right? And even them enjoy people the most, is it right? And what about the job – is it the second most positive thing in my life?
I guess no.
I picked the most positive thing in each week and then counted the tags. Five most common tags were:
We spend so much time in our jobs and surrounded by people, that naturally most of the positive things happen in the job or with people. But when I look at the most positive thing in the week – job and people are overwhelmed by other things. I think not people themselves make us happy, but what we do with them (seeing the nature, going camping, traveling, having an adventure, seeing art, having a conversation…)
Now, when anyone tells me that people is the most amazing thing in life, in travelling and anywhere else, I can say: no, it is not. It’s what you do with them, not people themselves.
Maybe I need a separate article for this finding so I can share it whenever I need to speak up.
Guidelines for you
If you feel inspired to try this project at home, I will give you some guidelines how you can do this.
- My technique most of the time was simple – every day, before going to sleep (sometimes already in bed) I wrote in a notebook what was the most positive thing that happened today. Just that thing in few sentences – no detailed descriptions or explanations why is it positive.
- But writing is not the only way, I know that some people doing this by making photos and call their projects 365 positive photos. I know some people who draw every day. So it is completely up to you how you will record your positive things – you can even record a voice message or make a short video.
- I think it is not necessary to have positive days. You can have positive weeks. One my friend practiced recording 3 positive things every week.
- One thing a day is absolutely enough. Some days you will have a hard time to find even that one. One my friend tried writing 5 things every day – and she gave up the challenge after some time. You can write more things if you are writing once a week. But for one day – no more than one thing.
- If you decided to write daily – never skip a single day. Even if you cannot bring your full diary – make a note on a piece of paper or on your phone and then rewrite when the diary is available. This is rewarding to have your full year filled with no gaps.
- It is fully up to you in which part of the day to write. I tried morning and evening. In the morning, I write in shorter sentences and it is easier to choose that one most positive thing. In the evening, I write longer vague sentences and sometimes write a lot before deciding about the positive thing. You will have different experiences. I suggest to try both – morning and evening – and then choose which time is better for you.
- Relax, it is not necessary to write unique thing every day. You are writing about positive things and if a thing is really positive, you want to repeat it every day. Again and again. That is good if you can write the same thing often (if that thing really excites you).
- If there were few über-positive things that day, I suggest choosing only one. Just pick the one that was the last in that day, so you will have fresh memories and emotions.
- Don’t worry about your writing skills. You are practicing your ability to notice positive things, to remember them and to celebrate them, not the writing. You don’t need poetic description – just state a fact in few sentences or words. But if you want to write a poem for each day – why not!
- I started writing this as a simple diary, but for some time, I was writing a blog in Japanese. You can keep your positive things private just for yourself. Or you can tweet it, post it on Facebook for all your friends. (I guess introverts will prefer private records, but posting with hashtag #365positivedays is also an option, so you can spread the word and inspire others).
- It is not necessary to write with a pen on paper. You can make a note on your smartphone, or tablet, or PC. For the purpose of analysis, I needed to rewrite all my entries to my PC. However, I try to keep me away from PC when it is not necessary, so I do not regret writing on paper.
- Maybe you already noticed the clue – you can practice other things together with this challenge. I practiced my Japanese writing skills. You can practice writing poems, drawing, photography or even calligraphy.
- As you see, I altered my way of writing during the challenge. I started writing in the morning – then switched to evening. I started writing in a notebook, then switched to an online blog. You can do this too. If you feel that something is wrong with the routine – change it. You only need one positive thing every day, it is not important how and when you record them. Just try not skipping a day.
- And finally, you can choose another period for your challenge. 365 days is the most common time because it resembles full year. You can do this for 90 days, 123 days, 28 days, 666 days. My suggestion is that time should not be shorter than 90 days – this is when I started noticing changes in my mind.
Good luck in your challenge!
If you have any questions about the challenge or you need some inspiration you can ask here in comments or write me a message.
You can do a positive impact to others by sending this article to them. Who needs some positivity?