June 10, 2020

By Nicole Che

Positivity sometimes sounds like New Age voodoo. If you’re deep in the pits of despair, someone telling you to be more positive often makes you want to positively tell them to mind their own business, or something to that effect. Obviously, you want good things to happen, positive things even, but being told to be more positive is not exactly a ladder helping you climb out of the pit. So… what is this metaphorical ladder?

Rung #1: Finding support

Finding social supports helps in countless ways on your way up the ladder. Joining community clubs that coincide with hobbies and interests is a great way to start making social connections. Surround yourself with people who share your goals and support you in achieving your aspirations. Remember: building supportive relationships takes time.

Rung #2: Physical activity

Physical activity is another great way to build community and get some dopamine flowing through your system. It may feel foreign and uncomfortable, but the more you move, the better you feel. No step into this unfamiliar territory is too small to make a difference. Going to the gym and lifting weights is great for some people, others prefer to take advantage of the outdoors, others still would rather take a leisurely stroll after dinner, and none are wrong.

Rung #3: Humour

Learning to laugh in the face of adversity is an important undervalued skill. Cracking a smile for a moment does not mean that your troubles are easy. Nothing is lost by letting the serious and upsetting sit on the sidelines for a few moments. Sharing a joke can relieve the tension of a difficult situation or divert attention away from an uncomfortable moment. Consider giving yourself permission to lighten up. Take time later to look back and reflect.

Rung #4: Turning ‘failures’ into knowledge

As painter Bob Ross used to say, “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents.” Every mistake is an opportunity for personal introspection. I’m not saying every mistake is good, because let’s face it, it’s not. However, the more we learn about ourselves, the more we understand how to deal with situations we find challenging in more suitable and beneficial ways.

Rung #5: Focus on now

It is said all the time, “focus on the present, don’t think about the past.” Easier said than done, and not entirely accurate — it is important to embrace our past (a topic for another time). However, if we focus on the actual present, this span of 10 seconds, most things are not as bad as they seem. Forget the unkind comment your co-worker made 30 seconds ago, right now, these 10 seconds, you are walking away.

These five rungs of the ladder are not a cure-all. There will be some days in which positivity simply eludes you, and you feel destined to spend your days in the pits. However, the more you try and climb them, the more you will realize that you’ve made your life more, dare I say it, positive.

Nicole Che is the program assistant, Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan.