I used to think that a positive person was someone who just said positive things to placate those around them. It seemed like an insincere and almost patronizing way of dealing with an “end-of-the-world” scenario. After all, if they really understood how devastating the situation was, how could they be positive about it? I also believed they probably had an easy life, or had a more blessed life than myself and could afford to show more positivity.
I could not have been more wrong. Real positive thinkers are people who genuinely see the other side – the positive side – not because they are more blessed, have had an easy life, or just don’t let things bother them. Rather, because they are “real” and positive toward life, they look at things with a glass half-full.
By “real,” I mean they possess a genuine and authentic sense of self. Additionally, they have learned how to use the power of positive thinking in their life. It is now a natural part of them. What does that look like in a person? Do you have the traits of a real positive thinker?
Here are 5 signs of being a “real” positive thinker:
1. A “real” positive person doesn’t act differently around different people.
A person who is real or genuine cannot be any other way. They tend to be self-reflective and honest and are constantly working on understanding themselves and their world. They continue to question their beliefs but stand firm on core values. Whether they are with their boss, a complete stranger, or their friends, they remain comfortable with who they are and will act the same around all of the above. This is not to say that different people won’t bring out different personality traits in them, but you will always see a consistent theme in who they are.
A real positive person is neither perfect, nor are they striving to be. They have simply accepted their faults, made the best of them, and will take responsibility for their actions.
A real positive person has a fairly solid self-esteem. They aren’t arrogant, but they don’t put themselves down, either. They recognize their value and that is enough for them. If they run across someone who doesn’t see their value or doesn’t like their quirks, they aren’t going to change who they are to get that person to like them. Real positive people understand that there is not one person that is for everyone and they don’t take it personally.
The development of the above traits allows them to be themselves with everyone more naturally, without stressing over how they “should be.”
2. They don’t try too hard.
Most positive people are considered optimists or individuals who always see the bright and shiny side of the world. Negative people might see them as naïve and gullible, that they live in denial and aren’t looking at the harsh realities of life. Research says otherwise. Researcher Suzanne Segerstrom PhD., the assistant psychology professor at the University of Kentucky, studies how optimism affects the immune system.
She stated, “My evidence suggests that optimists are not naïve. They are, however, wiser in expending their energies and better at directing their attention to and elaborating [on] positive information.” Essentially, positive thinkers tend to choose to focus their energy and attention on positive aspects.
Segerstrom was doing research to evaluate why positive or optimistic people tend to show short-term decreases in their immune system after a disappointment, but don’t suffer long-term repercussions. Originally, the long-held theory was that a positive person would become ill due to facing disappointment or disillusionment when things didn’t work out as they believed. Suzanne Segerstrom’s findings were actually a bit different.
“It’s that they try harder to achieve their goals. They put forth more effort, and it’s this increased effort that is associated with downward changes in the immune system,” she says. Pessimists, on the other hand, would be more likely to give up entirely.
Another researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, researched how people pursued happiness and why some were happier than others. She came up with the “Construal Theory of Happiness” which states “happy people construe the world, themselves and other people in more positive and adaptive ways than unhappy people do.”
A positive person makes a choice to see the positive aspects of this world and their circumstances.
Therefore, they can more easily adapt to situations than unhappy people can. Have you ever noticed that if you dwell on how hard or bad a situation is, it feels overwhelming and more bad things seem to happen? On the other hand, a real positive person finds the silver lining and makes it work for them, minimizing further negative effects.
You could say that positive thinking made their life easy; in reality, they made positive thinking easy. By looking for positive outcomes of events, they have trained their brain to understand that seeking out the positive feels good. Because they practice positive thinking in their daily life, it feels effortless to them.
3. A real positive person practices what they preach.
A real positive thinker is comfortable in their own skin. They are confident, have accepted their weaknesses and strengths, and take responsibility for their actions. They know their limits and are not looking to please everyone. This gives them the ability to say “No” to someone if they recognize that they are unable or unwilling to do something. This means they always do as they say and don’t have a problem speaking up for themselves.
Many people are “people pleasers” in that they attempt to do and be everything to others; this concept, in reality, does not work since you can never please everyone. A real positive person has realized and accepted this. They recognize it is more valuable to ensure that when they do say “Yes” to someone, their ability to complete what they agreed to is a better testament of their value to others. To do as they say allows others to trust their word, have confidence in its completion, and have positive results.
4. They stand in the face of adversity.
Researchers have relatively recently been studying what traits lead to success. For years, it was assumed to be a loving, supportive family, strong finances, education and intelligence. Yet, we all know of the stories of people who came from devastating family circumstances, without money and limited education, who rose to great success.
Researchers have been studying what exactly made these individuals different. The answer, not surprisingly, is simply perseverance. Research shows hardiness is the key to the resiliency for not only surviving, but also thriving, under stress. Hardiness enhances performance, leadership, conduct, stamina, mood and both physical and mental health.
They have found three beliefs that positive thinkers with perseverance have in common:
- Commitment: A belief that leads one to become involved in events, rather than isolating oneself
- Control: A belief that drives them to influence the events in their lives rather than play the victim and let life happen to them. In other words, they happen to life.
- Challenge Attitudes: A belief that stressful events do not necessarily equate to just a negative situation but an opportunity for learning and growth.
You could say that real positive thinkers have learned how to take “the bull by the horns” by showing perseverance to ensure they succeed in life regardless of circumstances. This perseverance is something they have learned to strengthen within themselves through various positive thinking methods. Check out the article, “The Road to Resilience” for further information on how you can increase your resilience in life so you can reach higher levels of success.
5. A positive person continually strengthens their power of positivity.
There tends to be an erroneous belief that people are “naturally” positive. You may picture an ever-cheerful, bubbly person who is almost oblivious to negative circumstances. While those people do exist, most of us need to put in effort to increase the positivity in our lives.
Real positive thinkers are not immune to stressors of life; they have simply learned how to exercise the muscle of positive thinking. The positive of that statement is that it is a skill that can be learned by anyone who is willing!
That said, here are 5 ways to exercise the muscle of positive thinking:
- Meditation: Learning to calm your mind even for 10 minutes a day can help you maintain perspective.
- Exercise: Exercise has been proven to lift moods and release stress in addition to its obvious physical benefits.
- Listening to uplifting podcasts, videos, and audio books: Listening to others sharing uplifting viewpoints is a great timesaver; you can do it in the car on the way to work, while running errands, or picking up the kids from school.
- Reading books: Some people prefer to read positive books rather than listen to audio versions. It makes it easier to make notes and highlight excerpts for future use.
- Share your thoughts: Communicate to friends or family when you are having a hard time, not just to get advice, but to release any pent-up emotions.
Do you share these 5 traits of a positive thinker? Remember: it is a process. So even if you are struggling, you can still achieve the perspective of a positive thinker. It has been proven that positive thinkers tend to be more successful, have better relationships, and are happier and healthier. The best part is that anyone can develop this lifestyle of being a “real” positive thinker.