3 Tips to Speak Positively

Note: this blog post is inspired by The Lift Project, Darren Morton’s ground-breaking program to treat depression and anxiety. Click here to learn more.

How would you rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 10? If you’re like many Australians, you may admit that your mood is less than ideal.

Despite Australia having been rated as one of the top 10 “happiest” countries in the world, antidepressant usage has doubled in the last decade. What’s more, fewer than 20% of U.S. adults (a comparable demographic to that of Australia) report that they are “flourishing.”

Thankfully, epigenetic researchers have found that we can control roughly 40% of our sustaining happiness. In other words, even if we were just “born with a raincloud,” as our mother may say, there’s still hope.

Research suggests that our emotional state of being, or level of happiness, is largely influenced by our speech and language. In other words, what we say to ourselves and others has a direct impact on our sense of wellbeing.

Here are 3 research-backed tips to start speaking positively. Don’t feel like you have to incorporate them all at once. Pick one and go from there!

Assign Meaning to Events

Researchers have found that we differ in the way that we explain life events to ourselves. Our explanatory style has a large impact on our emotional resilience and stress tolerance.

While optimists while generally attribute setbacks to bad luck, they view their successes as a result of hard work and talent.

Pessimists, though, will fault themselves for bad situations and see their successes as “good luck” moments.

In other words, optimists speak positively to themselves; they cheer themselves on and have confidence in their abilities. Pessimists have a critical internal dialogue and self-doubt.

To shift your explanatory style, set aside time each morning to remember a personal win. Visualize your success. Talk to yourself with uplifting words for a few minutes: “you put in so much work to earn that promotion. You really are an intelligent, thoughtful co-worker. Way to go!”

The exercise may sound corny, but it’s an easy way to start shifting your focus to the positive. Once you speak positively to yourself, you’ll find it much easier to celebrate others.

Tip: try to rewrite your past events in a positive light

Give Compliments

As the saying goes, “sprinkle around compliments like confetti.”

Giving authentic, heartfelt compliments is a powerful way to get your positivity level up. We often think that others are smart, pretty, insightful, kind, and so on, but don’t verbally express those thoughts.

As Professor Nick Haslam, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, says, “compliments can lift moods, improve engagement with tasks, enhance learning and increase persistence.”

In fact, Haslam notes that the compliment giver may actually see their mood lifted more than that of the receivers.

Do you struggle to articulate yourself? Here are a few short compliments to try out. Make sure that you genuinely mean them!

  • You have a heart of gold
  • You walk the talk
  • You are always willing to lend a hand
  • You raise the bar
  • You set such a great example for others
  • You are the best friend/mother/father/wife/partner anyone could ask for
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain

Rephrase Problems

Do you have a lot on your to-do list this week? You can either think “what a nightmare,” or “hat a great opportunity to improve my ability to develop efficiency.”

The next time a problem comes up, try to define the problem in terms of opportunity.

For example, if you have an assignment that is very complex, think “this is going to be an educational challenge.” Or if your car has a flat tire, think “this is a way to practice my stress-tolerance.”

It might seem a little much, but research shows that language determines our emotion. If we speak positively about our challenges, we are more likely to approach them as such. Remember, our subconscious literally interprets what it hears!

It’s a problem…or is it an opportunity?

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