What is Living Positively?

Everything we do outwardly is a reflection of who we are internally. Therefore, it is impossible to lead positively, that is, be positive externally towards others without being positive inward to yourself. 

If your internal self is negative, your default output is negativity. At best you can fake outward positivity, but people are very good at spotting fake emotions – especially over time. 

When you can create a positive core of yourself, positivity becomes just who you are. When the core of who you are is positive, it becomes your default to out pour positivity on others. 

Since living positively is the other side of the coin of leading positively, building a positive core becomes critical to leading positively. 

Which begs the question, what is living positively? How do we build this positive core? 

This question is something I’m spending just as much time thinking on and trying to define as I am spending trying to define the positive leader. It should be no surprise that the two definitions are extremely similar. They really are two sides of the same coin, therefore the “living positively” definition is the inward definition of leading positively. 

My definition of living positively

Just like the positive leader definition, my definition of living positively is continually being iterated on as I find better ways to convey my belief. 

  1. Foster a positive self image
  2. Always focus on and seek out successes
  3. Highlight the positive in others
  4. Set and work daily towards affirmative and attainable goals
  5. Every small decision makes a difference

All five components are intertwined and will build upon each other. When the momentum builds, a positive core becomes ingrained, which will then overflow to others. 

Foster a positive self image

The mental picture you have of yourself is a very large driver in how you react to external influence. 

“Confidence is at least 30% of performance.” 

Steve Anderson, certified mental management coach

Do you think you’re always prone to make mistakes? If so, every small mistake will jump out at you in an incredibly obvious manner and occupy your conscious mind. This easily compounds upon itself and makes it difficult to try new things for fear of new mistakes. Small trip ups will be perceived as large mistakes instead of minor issues that may not even have any impact on the end product at all. 

Thankfully, the opposite is also true. Do you have confidence in your abilities to achieve successes? When a person is confident in their abilities, small issues don’t slow them down. Confident people are eager to learn and try new things, seeing them as more opportunities to improve and achieve new successes instead of opportunities for problems. 

What is confidence in abilities except a positive self image? 

Building a positive self image makes nearly everything in life easier.

Always focus on and seek out successes

Just like what I said about positive leadership, focusing on and seeking out successes for yourself is critical to building and maintaining positivity. There are always successes to draw from, be it the one thing that went right or identifying lessons learned from the four things that went wrong so the next attempt can be improved. 

Focusing intently on successes builds the positive self image, creating more future successes. 

This doesn’t mean we should ignore mistakes and issues. We absolutely need to take the time to analyze mistakes and issues – but only spend enough time on them to understand them and identify how to turn them into future successes. 

Creating success builds momentum and momentum creates future successes. 

Highlight the positive in others

Building inward positivity can be easily compounded by pushing positivity outward. 

The more time you spend helping and uplifting others, the more you’re orienting your brain on the positive. This outward positivity will engrain inward positive thinking incredibly quickly. 

The brain is quick to identify patterns that generate positive results. When positivity is poured out on others, it generates enthusiastic and happy responses. Give someone a compliment and watch their eyes light up. Help someone with a difficult task and most people be grateful. 

Brains are quick to pick up on these patterns that generate favorable results and it’ll quickly become a habit to continue with these patterns of positivity. 

Set and work daily towards affirmative and attainable goals

No one walked out their front door to go on a casual walk and suddenly ended on top of Mt. Everest. Climbing the tallest mountain in the world requires hard work and a deliberate effort. 

Climbing any metaphorical mountain similarly requires deliberate effort. 

Set goals for your life and make intentional effort towards those goals. For these goals, set a blend of long term “big” goals as well as short term easily obtainable goals. 

If only long term goals are set, it becomes very easy to get discouraged and lose momentum. The body craves and seeks out successes. Only having multi year goals isn’t sustainable because the body is lacking those successes. 

Similarly, if only short term goals are set, meaningful long term progress becomes difficult. The overarching long term goal acts as a framework for the smaller short term goals and keeps oneself working in a deliberate direction, rather than an aimless direction. 

The blend of long term goals and short term goals provides long term growth backed by short term successes. 

Every small decision makes a difference

Who we are today is made up of the decisions we made yesterday. Who we are tomorrow is made up of the decisions we make today. I’ve said this many times and I’m going to keep on saying it until I am blue in the face. (Partly because I need to constantly remind myself.)

If we improve by a little bit every day, we’re obtaining compounding interest on ourselves – and compounding interest is an incredible multiplier. 

Let’s put it in perspective. If we start off with $100 and apply 1% interest, we’ll have $101. If we compound interest by 1% every day for 30 days, we’ll have $135.34. But… if we keep up 1% compounding interest for 5 years, we’ll have $7.7 billion dollars

The more you invest in yourself and make an effort to grow and improve every day, the more and more compounding interest you’ll generate in yourself. This is how the best of the best become the best – they work and improve a little bit every single day. 

I love to call it “progress through endurance.” The greats have incredible amounts of endurance to keep up their daily efforts to improve, and they use that to surpass everyone out there. 

Where to begin?

That’s quite the question. Everyone’s journey is different. We all start from different positions and we all have different destinations. 

Take time today to try and figure out where you are right now and where you want to go. 

Write down where you want to be in 5 years, then identify 5 checkpoints from where you are now and the goal you want to achieve. Then create a list of small actions you can take each and every day towards that goal. 

Having those small daily goals help you create successes. You can use those manufactured (but still very real) successes to improve the lives of others. The more you achieve these wins and help others out, the more you’ll boost your self image and the more you’ll engrain a positivity oriented core. 

What is one thing you can do today to achieve a “success” and build that positive self image?