Do you feel “lifted up” and more positive after your exchange with this person?
Positivity is a state of mind. It is being mindful of the importance of having a positive attitude about life, despite challenges that come our way. Reflecting on what is good in our lives assists us in maintaining a positive attitude. The day to day responsibilities of being a parent can put us in a “doing” mode rather than a “being” mode. As a result, it can be challenging for parents to maintain a positive mindset. It is valuable for parents to take active steps to cultivate positivity for themselves and their families.
Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean you never feel negative emotions, such as sadness or anger, says Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a psychologist and expert on emotional wellness at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “All emotions—whether positive or negative—are adaptive in the right circumstances. The key seems to be finding a balance between the two,” she says.
“Positive emotions expand our awareness and open us up to new ideas, so we can grow and add to our toolkit for survival,” Fredrickson explains. “But people need negative emotions to move through difficult situations and respond to them appropriately in the short term. Negative emotions can get us into trouble, though, if they’re based on too much rumination about the past or excessive worry about the future, and they’re not really related to what’s happening in the here and now.”
People who are emotionally well, experts say, have fewer negative emotions and are able to bounce back from difficulties faster. This quality is called resilience. Another sign of emotional wellness is being able to hold onto positive emotions longer and appreciate the good times. Developing a sense of meaning and purpose in life – and focusing on what’s important to you – also contributes to emotional wellness.
It is important for parents to be mindful of striking a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions. This will help parents practice not getting stuck in negative emotions. They will be able to cultivate positivity for themselves, and model it for their children. This in turn will create a positive lifestyle for their family.
How parents can cultivate positivity for themselves & their families
• Communication and building a meaningful relationship with your child, partner, and key people in your life is a valuable first step to creating positivity in your life. It is important to be aware of your tone of voice, body language, and attitude when you are speaking with them. Simply be present and listen.
• Focus on the interaction in the moment instead of being preoccupied with responsibilities on the to-do list or the comment you want to make. By staying present with your family, you are not only creating more positivity, but you are building a deeper connection with them. This in turn will model meaningful communication and connections for your children.
• It is important that parents nurture themselves. It is essential for parents to nurture their mind and body on a daily basis as it will cultivate positivity in their lives. Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Think about a concern or situation with a new perspective, take time to eat well, exercise, practice meditation and yoga, connect with others, and engage in activities that bring you joy.
• Take time out of your schedule on a regular basis to go on a family walk. Spending time together to explore nature or a new place is a wonderful way to deepen relationships and cultivate a positive lifestyle for your family.
• Engage in community causes and volunteer for organizations that are meaningful to you. Encourage your family to get involved, too!
• Another way parents can create more positivity in their lives is to monitor their self talk. It is helpful for parents to ask themselves these questions: Are my self-statements promoting positivity in my life or inhibiting it in some way? How does it impact my relationships?
• Practice replacing negative self talk with positive self statements and gratitude for the good in your life are essential. When parents are mindful of a positive attitude it becomes infectious at home. This is a great teachable moment for your child and you are creating a positive home environment.
• Evaluate your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors on a regular basis. Identify situations where you find yourself “slipping” into a negative mind set or engaging in behaviors that are counterproductive. Once you identify these situations, it provides a great opportunity to reflect on how adjusting your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can bring forth more positivity in your life and for your family.
• Take time to reflect on the people in your life. Are you surrounding yourself with people who exude positivity? Do their words and actions inspire you or deflate you?
• It is valuable to set boundaries with people in your life who maintain a negative mind set. Their personal issues are not your issues. You have control over how you want to respond to their negativity.
• Establish positive support systems in your life. Surround yourself with family members and friends who are positive and supportive with their words and actions. Their encouragement will help you on your path to maintaining the positivity you desire for yourself and your family.
How to help your children create positivity in their lives
• Assist your child in finding their joy and passions in life. This will help your child to develop a positive sense of self and good coping skills.
• Facilitate opportunities for your child to engage in creative expression. It will assist your child in recognizing their talents, inner strengths, and outer strengths.
• Encourage your child to practice yoga, deep breathing, and meditation. Through these practices, your child will learn to calm their mind, strengthen their body, and positive ways to cope with life stressors.
• Help your child express their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By helping your child to get in touch with their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, they will learn to not become “stuck”, and express themselves in a healthy way.
• Foster community involvement and volunteering opportunities for your child. It is an excellent way to help your child understand the importance of helping others, gratitude, and being a part of a community.
• Create opportunities for your child to make decisions and learn accountability. This will foster positivity as your child will identify pros and cons of a decision, possible outcomes, and develop resiliency from their experiences. As a result, your child will build character, strength, and a positive sense of self.
It is evident creating a positive lifestyle for you and your family is a process. The experts point out the importance of striking a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions. It is also important parents are clear about their individual goals and family goals as it will help to create a positive lifestyle. Taking small steps each day will empower you and your family to cultivate the positivity you envision. Community involvement and surrounding yourself with individuals who support your goals for a positive lifestyle are paramount. Parents being mindful of the suggestions above are taking active steps each day to create positivity for themselves and their family. Through these active steps, you will cultivate intention, gratitude, and meaningful relationships in your life.
Happiness unpacked: positive emotions increase life satisfaction by building resilience. Cohn MA, Fredrickson BL, Brown SL, Mikels JA, Conway AM. Emotion. 2009 Jun;9(3):361-8. doi: 10.1037/a0015952. PMID: 19485613