As a coach who helps people live their most incredible lives, a topic I dive into often is positivity.
Do you have it? Do you need more of it? How much is too much?
I was born as a hardcore optimist with a black belt in finding silver linings. But, in a session some time ago (back when I was in the client seat), a coach said something to me that rocked my beliefs:
“No one likes a Pollyanna.”
My optimism has taken through some of the toughest times in my life. When I was sick and couldn’t walk for six months, I kept my spirits high and concentrated on the good. When I was struggling to leave my job and start a new life, I made sure I kept my outlook in line with my smile.
So, while I know this particular pro wasn’t making a personal attack on me, what she said resonated. I wanted to shrink and apologize to everyone I knew for my sugary overload of a personality.
But, after some reconsideration and deep thought, I decided that I disagree. Allow me to explain:
Optimists (much like extroverts) get a bad rap – particularly in the online space.
They’re seen as foolish dreamers, who spend so much time looking for the sunny side that they shove the negative under the rug. Some people might call their constant upward motion “annoying” and get resentful.
With the spread of social media in recent years, this viewpoint has been given space to grow. Facebook and Twitter give us platforms to air out all of our laundry — clean and dirty — and express our day-to-day viewpoints.
Unfortunately, rainbows and sunshine just aren’t for everyone. Have you ever heard some of that anti-positivity feedback?
“I’m so sick of reading her happy Facebook posts. Can I block her from my newsfeed?”
“If she tweets one more ‘my life is so great’ sentiment on Twitter, I’m unfollowing her.”
This puzzles positive folks to no end – and can remove the shine from their natural sparkle.
It’s easy to assume that positivity is feigned, in the cynical online world, where all people have the ability to make nasty comments back to you.
But hear this: Positivity actually positions you to survive and thrive better than most. Consciously creating a brighter outlook can spur your success, in addition to the success of the people around you.
So, why wouldn’t you want to spread that far and wide?
Here are my top three reasons you should stop worrying about being “too happy” on social media (and one trick that I use).
1. People are drawn to those who make them feel better.
Would you rather interact with a Debbie Downer or Positive Polly? Those who pick Debbie Downer probably aren’t friends you want in your life, anyway. Be proud of your Positive Polly personality and let it twinkle.
Chances are, any unkind encounters you have are probably the result of envy or an individual’s frustration with her own lot. It’s easy to look at someone’s Facebook page or Instagram and imagine he or she has an absolutely perfect life. That’s where jealousy comes in, but it’s almost never accurate. Social media platforms comprise the highlight reel, never the full story.
But, that doesn’t mean you should have to hide your highlights! I don’t suggest you take a selfie every time you walk out the door. However, if you’ve had a happy thought or event you’d like to share, you shouldn’t have to hide it away to spare another’s feelings.
2. Pretending just adds to frustration and negativity in your life.
Faking it (even if this means “toning it down”) to keep the haters at bay won’t lead you to a life of which you’ll be proud. Ask yourself about the real reasons you decide to stifle your positivity. Is it to avoid upsetting a particular person or group?
If so, take note. They might just be having trouble and are ragging on those who use sunny outlooks on Facebook as a way to cope.
3. Dwelling on life's negativity and challenges doesn't help you move forward in life.
When we’re constantly looking in the rearview mirror at the things that bring us down, we make it almost impossible to move forward. Instead of letting us blossom, living in the negativity of our pasts keeps us rooted to the spot.
To live life to the fullest, you need to work toward new goals and experiences, and positivity is often closely tied in. Otherwise, life will move forward while you stand in place.
Next time you take the easy way out, complain or act negative, try this:
Allow yourself a five-minute focused vent session.
Get all that complaining and negativity out during those five minutes. Say and feel whatever you need without feeling guilt. After all, this is part of processing human emotion. But remember, only do this for five minutes.
When the timer goes off, tell yourself “all negative thoughts stop now.” Turn your conscious mind back to the positive. It’s easy to fall into a cycle of complaining, which is why positivity, like anything, requires practice. It’s a muscle you need to work and strengthen. But I promise, when you do, you (and your whole community) will be so much happier for it.
Now, my Pollyannas, it’s your turn.
Are you ever afraid to share positive events or inspiration on social media? Or, do you find yourself hiding your sunny disposition a little bit? What do you think is holding you back, specifically?
When you take the time to really consider it, your answers might surprise you. Share them in the comments below. Who knows, you may be someone’s inspiration today!
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