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Posts Tagged ‘Positivity’

Towards the end of each calendar year, I contemplate about the upcoming year and think about what personal characteristics I hope to emulate. This year I picked “KIND” as my word of the year and I’ve enjoyed having my “word” as a reminder of how I want to be.

Be Kind words writtten in chalk

Be Kind

The definition of Kindness, according to the Oxford Dictionary is:

Kindness (noun): the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

In this blog, I will share how practicing kindness can enrich your life and some tips to help you get started.

According to a Harvard Health blog, kindness starts with being kind to yourself. This may mean practicing forgiveness, self-care or eating a healthy meal. I encourage you to “think outside the normal” when you consider ways to practice kindness and to start with being kind to yourself.

The “On Our Sleeves” movement focuses on children’s mental health. Their kindness challenge has some simple tips to help you get started. It shares tips for teaching your kids about kindness but remember these suggestions apply to anyone. In my experience, every time I practice kindness, I gain a positive experience in my life.

Practicing kindness can help you in many ways: It can:

  • Help reduce stress
  • Increase your sense of happiness
  • Help reduce negative emotions
  • Help you feel more connected to others

Are you looking for more inspiration? Visit University of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center for articles and suggestions for creating good. This 15 minute Loving-Kindness meditation is a wonderful way to strengthen your kindness initiative.

With all these benefits, what are you waiting for?

Please comment below on ways you are practicing kindness.

Sources:

Broderick, M. (2019, April 18). The heart and science of kindness. Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-heart-and-science-of-kindness-2019041816447

Loving-kindness meditation(Greater good in action). (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2020, from https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:    Susan Zies , Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

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“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”   Winston Churchill

As we move into the new year let’s think about the “Power of Positivity” and the role that it can have for a potentially wonderful 2020.

smiling woman

Did you know that positive people are more resilient, adaptive, innovative, healthy and engaged in their work? They have more successful relationships too. Positive people also have fewer colds, longer lives, more successful marriages, have fewer heart attacks, a higher pain tolerance, and even have more friends. Makes sense, who wants to spend hours with people who grouch and complain all the time? Of course, if the negative person is your mother, you can’t say I’m never spending time with you again.

A study from Michigan State University found that negative workers become more mentally fatigued and defensive. They are also less productive. Several studies have found that those negative workers may cost the US Economy $250 to $300 million per year in lost productivity. Research also finds that positive teams are more effective, efficient, and successful. They outperform other teams in work speed and quality.

My personal favorite positivity author is Jon Gordon. He combines research with messages that are easy to understand and make me think. He has a number of books that you can borrow from your local library, download on an e-reader, or purchase if you really like them. He also has free online video’s and newsletters. In one of his more recent newsletters he challenged readers to “Be Positively Contagious”. He states that emotions are contagious – so sincere smiles, kind words, and encouragement will spread through your home, workplace, school, or organization. While negativity can infect others. If you are having a negative day, think about taking a sick day for an attitude adjustment. In the same way you don’t want to infect others with the flu, why infect them with your negative attitude?

I challenge you as we move into 2020 to find ways to build your own positivity and encourage others to be more positive too. Possible tools include:

  • Accepting that change is part of life.
  • Trying the “No Complaining Rule” – Can you avoid complaining for even a day? Build to a week?
  • Use the “Tell Me Something Good” Technique – When family or friends are sharing, encourage them to tell you something good that happened and not focus on the negative.
  • Watching positive/humorous shows, movies, or videos that make you laugh.
  • Use affirming/positive self-talk.
  • Let go of things you can’t control.
  • Smile more, even a fake smile will reduce your heart rate and blood pressure!

“No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” Tom Schulman

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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baby looking into an empty barn

Take a quick minute and think about how you are feeling today. What mood are you projecting to others around you? Are you projecting happiness/unhappiness, joy/depression, or love/anger?

There were times for me this last year where I was projecting worry, fear and nervousness. The beginning of the year I was trying to focus on positive things in my life. I live on a dairy farm and I knew the end was in sight for the farm. Right before Easter all of our milk cows were sold. Watching everything your family has worked for be sold is heartbreaking to live through. Now we have to find a new normal as we grieve the animals we lost. I would not be honest if I told you I was experiencing joy every day. It’s not uncommon for me to experience sadness, depression, or frustration. How do I find joy in the midst of a storm?

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Douglas Abrams journals the discussion between the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu answering the question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? Their discussion provides us with their foundation for lasting happiness known as the eight pillars of joy. The pillars are split into two groups of “mind” pillars and “heart” pillars.

Pillars of the Mind

  1. Perspective- look at situations from different perspectives
  2. Humility- we are a small piece of something bigger
  3. Humor- laughter is the best medicine
  4. Acceptance- accept reality so change may begin

Pillars of the Heart

  1. Forgiveness- end the cycle of retaliation
  2. Gratitude- focus on what is good and right and appreciate the precious moments
  3. Compassion- by focusing on others our own problems seem less important
  4. Generosity- we feel happy when we give

Putting these pillars into practice is extremely difficult and often times easier said than done. What I can tell you is that by keeping these pillars in my mind while I go about my daily life makes the tough times a little more bearable. I have them written down and keep them where I can easily reference them when I need to. It’s helped me to project hope and has brought a smile back to my face.

I encourage you to show compassion to your farming community. There are multiple dairy farms across the United States that are closing their barn doors for the last time. There have been at least four in my own county this year. In Ohio, we’ve had historic rainfall this year and many farmers are finding themselves with flooded fields and little to no crops. The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, And Environmental Sciences are working tirelessly to address the 2019 agricultural challenges. If you, or someone you know needs farm assistance in getting questions answered or is unware of the resources available to them then I encourage you to check out this specific link https://go.osu.edu/agcrisis and/or pass it along. 

Bohlen, A. (2019, February 14). Staying positive in tough times. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/02/14/staying-positive-in-tough-times/

Lama, D., Tutu, D., & Abrams, D. (2016). The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. New York City, NY: Avery Publishing Group.

Stefura, B. (2014, October 13). Don’t let stress get the best of you! Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/10/13/dont-let-stress-get-the-best-of-you/

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County, dunfee.54@osu.edu

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Last year was a very difficult year for my family, and 2019 has not started any better. Everywhere I turn I am forced to think about the challenges my family is facing. I know I am not alone in the way I feel. I also know that some of you may be living in your worst fear every day. I have spent the last several months trying to keep my head high and not talk about what is going on behind the scenes. I am a very private person when it comes to my family and I do not plaster my every thought on social media. However, keeping all of that inside of me has not been good for my health. I know how to recognize and control my stress but no matter what I tried, I could not escape it.Think Positive motivation

My family is one of the many dairy families across the United States experiencing farm stress. Living in the unknown of the farm takes away all of my positive energy and can be emotionally exhausting and draining every day. I have had to make a conscience effort to focus on the positives in my life and to let the negatives go. I was able to find an extremely wonderful handout from North Dakota State University Extension called 12 Tools for Your Wellness Toolbox in Times of Farm Stress. I had the amazing opportunity to hear Sean, the author, speak at a conference about rural stress. This resource not only applies to farm stress but to ALL stress that EVERYONE faces. The list focuses on the following physical, mental, emotional, personal, work, and financial wellness strategies, which will help enhance your mood, renew your energy and help you stay focused:

  1. Exercise 20 minutes or more daily (walk, swim, ride a bike, etc.)
  2. Get an annual medical checkup with a local health-care provider.
  3. Spend 10 minutes planning your day and priorities.
  4. Take regular 5- to 10-minute breaks in your day to relax and recharge.
  5. Write down 3 things that you are grateful for daily.
  6. Share concerns with a counselor or other professional.
  7. Take 15 minutes each day for uninterrupted conversation with a spouse or family member.
  8. Get involved or stay connected with a friend or group of friends.
  9. Discuss needs of the farm operation but do not let them occupy all other aspects of life.
  10. Seek constructive feedback on your farm operation and ways to grow or improve.
  11. Create a family budget and seek to live within your means.
  12. Select three healthy habits you will try to practice daily. Start today!

Which three healthy habits could you begin doing today? So many times, we try to handle things on our own and in reality, we end up doing more damage than good. I strongly encourage you to figure out who is in your support network. Who do you feel comfortable sharing your personal struggle(s) with? I started focusing on the goodness in this world and the amazing people that surround me. My coworkers and friends have been wonderful! They’ve given me endless amounts of humor to lighten my mood, been a listening ear on tough days and have sent words of encouragement. Don’t feel like you have to hold your thoughts in any longer. Open up and focus on the positive outcomes in your bumpy ride.

 

Brotherson, S. (2017, September) 12 Tools for your wellness toolbox in times of farm stress. Retrieved from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/kids-family/12-tools-for-your-wellness-toolbox-in-times-of-farm-stress

Stefura, B. (2014, October 13). Don’t let stress get the best of you! Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/10/13/dont-let-stress-get-the-best-of-you/

 

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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The holiday season is one of the most giving and positive times of the year. Many people have the ‘Spirit of Giving’ during this festive time. The students of Somerset Elementary School are no exception. A few of weeks ago the principal, and some of the students stopped by our office to deliver poinsettias. They were going to businesses and residences in the community to spread some positivity with the flowers and a little note. The students of Somerset Elementary; however, have been practicing positivity for a couple years. They piloted the Positivity Project for Northern Local School District last year. The district implemented the project in the other two grade schools this year due to the great results from Somerset Elementary.

The visit from the students inspired me to encourage others to be more positive. Overall, I tend to be a positive person, but positivity does not come naturally for everyone. Some people have to work harder at it, but we all can become more positive with some small changes. To become more positive, try some of these tips from the Mayo Clinic:

Identify areas to change.Positivity Project

Check yourself.

Be open to humor.

Follow a healthy lifestyle.

Surround yourself with positive people.

Practice positive self-talk.

With practice, you may be able to develop a more positive attitude and become less critical of things around you.

There are many health benefits  to having a positive outlook/attitude for you. These may include:

  • lower blood pressure
  • reduced risk for heart disease
  • healthier weight
  • better blood sugar levels
  • lower rates of depression
  • lower levels of distress
  • greater resistance to the common cold
  • better psychological and physical well-being
  • better coping skills during stressful times
  • longer life span.

One study showed that the most optimistic group of women had a nearly 30% overall reduced mortality compared to the least optimistic group.

Gratitude can also help with developing a more positive outlook/attitude. People who are more grateful tend to have a more positive demeanor. If we can continue the practice of gratitude that many people seem to have during the holiday season all year long, it may help us to become more positive overall. The week after our office received the visit and the flowers from the students, I walked over to the school to deliver a Thank You note to the principal to share with the students. I wanted to make sure that the students understand that their gesture was appreciated and acknowledged. I will be sharing this blog with the principal as well so that he can show the students how they were my inspiration for writing it. The simple gesture of positivity by them, has already spread beyond their little school and town.

When you find yourself struggling to be or to remain positive (as we all do at times), remember Winston Churchill’s famous quote that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Sometimes just re-framing the situation can help us to see things in a more positive light.

Comment on your favorite tips to stay positive.

 

Written by:  Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension , Perry County.

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

Photo Credit:  Debbie Goodrich, Office Associate, Perry County OSU Extension.

Sources:

https://posproject.org/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950?pg=2

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/08/positive-emotions-your-health

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/12/optistic-women-live-longer-are-healthier/

http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/positive-thinking/

References:

Bryan, Jeff & Erwin, Mike (2017). #OtherPeopleMatter, The Positivity Project.

Mayo Clinic Staff (February 18, 2017). Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) News in Health (August 2015). Positive Emotions and Your Health Developing a Brighter Outlook.

Feldscher, Karen (December 7, 2016). How power of positive thinking works, Harvard Gazette.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking (2016). Pursuit of Happiness, Inc.

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Did you know that people who are happier live 7 to 10 years longer? And happy employees miss up to 15 less days of work each year and recover from their illnesses earlier? The power of being positive is growing in both research findings and popular press. Numerous research studies have concluded that positive thinking can improve your health by:

  • Lowering rates of depression and levels of distressMP900386362
  • Reducing risks of heart disease
  • Providing resistance to the common cold

Thinking positive thoughts doesn’t mean you ignore unpleasant things that happen in your life; instead you look at those things as an opportunity to improve and presume that the best outcome is going to happen. So are you a glass half-full or half-empty (positive or negative) person? I admit this is an area I have been trying to watch in my own life. I know people who are negative much of the time and they aren’t fun to be around. What can we all do to be more positive?

  • Stop using negative thoughts and words. When you catch yourself being negative – take a break.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Seek out friends and co-workers who are positive and reduce the time you spend with those who are negative. Now, if your mother is the negative one, that doesn’t mean you never have to see her again, but try to change or direct conversations with her to reflect a more positive slant.
  • Read inspiring books or blogs, and follow people who use positive thinking on Twitter or Facebook. Buy a thought-of-the-day book with a positive theme or get out your old Chicken Soup books and read them again.
  • Watch TV shows, movies, or even YouTube video’s that make you happy and laugh.
  • Be physically active – it is amazing what a few 10 minute fitness breaks can do to improve your attitude (and your health).
  • Institute a “no complaining rule” at your office or with your family. When someone doesn’t like a new policy, encourage them to think of it as a way to learn something new. Or rather than complaining about something, think of possible alternatives. You may need to try some “no complaining” days first, rather than going cold-turkey.
  • Model positive actions and words with others. Set an example for your co-workers, family, and friends. Remember, children and teens will follow the example you set.

As one of my favorite positive speakers/authors Jon Gordon says “Be positively contagious”, rather than letting your negative energy infect others. If you are having a really negative day, everyone might be better served if you take a sick day for an “attitude adjustment.” In the same way that you would not want to infect co-workers with a cold or flu, you don’t want your pessimism contaminating others, either.

Sources:

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Mayo Clinic

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County.

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