Developing a positive mindset during tough times

Mental Health – a Positive Mindset and Motivation are Key to Overcoming Tough Times

The last four years have been challenging for most of us. In one way or another, we’ve been thrown into a hostile environment, forcing us to face some harsh realities. We’ve had to make difficult decisions… decisions most of us have been unprepared for… decisions that can impact a positive mindset.

The pandemic, isolation, rising rental costs, and now high inflation and rapid increases in interest rates, have all taken a toll on our mental well-being.

In America and Switzerland, we have recently witnessed the collapse of ‘too big to fail’ banks including Credit Suisse and First Republic. We hear and read that other banks are likely to fail ‘stress tests’. There’s a lot to keep us awake at night… if we choose that path.

But there is an alternative mindset that we can all have. It’s a mindset that can lead us to a more peaceful life with lower stress and less worry.

In this article, I’ll discuss the simple steps that you can take to have a more enjoyable, less stressful life. And isn’t that what it’s really all about?

Turn off the News!

Most of us are powerless when it comes to determining interest rates or the rent we need to pay to live in our chosen location. We can’t control inflation or the price of staple food items. We’re reminded of these challenges every day – and that is a big part of the problem!

Do you wake up and check the news? Do you check again during your work day? Do you ‘catch up’ with the evening news?

Perhaps it’s time to re-examine your reliance on and your need to follow the news media. Let’s face it… negativity – bad news – sells! But the bad news doesn’t build us up. It doesn’t help our resilience.

To protect your mindset, be selective in what news you consume.

It appears to be in our nature that the more significant the disaster or scandal, the more we consume it. This results in a negative outlook and feeds a negative feedback loop! It’s imperative that we guard our thought patterns against as much negative news as possible in order to retain a positive attitude.

The media concentrates on attributing fault, inspiring dread, and accentuating people’s diversity. Instead, it is wiser to consume inspiring content to start the day invigorated. Too much mainstream media – of any political persuasion – can affect us detrimentally. To protect and enhance a positive mindset, be discerning in what ‘news’ you consume.

Celebrate the Little Things in Life

Find every reason to celebrate to help develop a positive mindset
Find every reason to celebrate to help develop a positive mindset

The feedback loop you want is positive reinforcement. One of the best ways to have a positive mindset is by celebrating all the good things that happen daily. They are there! You don’t need to wait for significant milestones. Look for the small victories in your life – a new customer, a better idea, a good review, a birthday… anything that comes with a positive vibe is a cause for celebration.

Dress to feel good about yourself

The pandemic has had one major benefit… it has transitioned lots of us into working remotely. Some of us now work from home five days a week. Others are doing two or three days a week. It saves us time, has actually increased productivity, and saves us commuting costs. But transitioning to working remotely has created some issues for many in keeping their mojo.

Quite simply, what you wear affects your mindset. According to the study of enclothed cognition by Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky, what we wear significantly affects the way we feel. Working remotely means that we are not seeing each other in person as much as we were pre-pandemic. Many of us have resorted to ‘comfort wear’ but does it make us feel good about our self-image when we are working in P.J.’s or a tracksuit?

Are you sleeping or working? What you wear affects your mindset!
Are you sleeping or working? What you wear affects your mindset!

What we wear matters for our mindset. If a woman wants to celebrate and to feel ‘special’, she will wear (or buy) ‘that’ dress, do her hair and nails, and carefully select matching shoes to fit the occasion or event. She’s never considered going in ‘trackies’. In the same way, a man heading out on a date, or even to the movies with mates isn’t going to be wearing pajamas!

What we wear puts us In the right mindset for the task at hand.

The same principle applies to school uniforms or those uniforms worn by professional services and employees of government departments. You are subconsciously in the ‘zone’ when in a uniform. What you are wearing has a major impact on your mindset.

What You Eat Can Affect Your Mindset!

You’ve certainly experienced it but not necessarily made the connection… we really are what we eat! There are many nutritional studies showing that a healthy diet is good for the mind as well as the body. This is especially true as we age.

Avoiding ‘junk foods’ and consuming less bad fats and sugar will help build a resilient mindset.

Sharing is (self) caring!

Seen a tutorial that impressed you? Listened to a great podcast? Read a quote that really resonates. Then share them with your co-workers, business partners/associates, and friends. But don’t ‘share’ links via social media, text, or email. Physically being able to talk to others in a similar situation, who are experiencing similar things as you – positive and negative, is a great way to build positivity.

Join a Community Organization

Members of organizations such as Rotary and Lions are positively contributing to their local and broader community. They are people working to improve the lives of others.

Subconsciously, much of our thinking is influenced by those we associate with. In fact, I have read many times that we become the average of the five people that we most associate with! Business leaders associate with business leaders. Criminals associate with criminals!

Depending on your skills and expertise, you can benefit from the knowledge of others, meet in a non-competitive, constructive environment and learn, mentor or help others.

We need to consciously include positive friends and mentors and exclude those that insist on dispensing negativity. Doing so will directly influence our move toward a more positive mindset.

Show Gratitude – Frequently!

Put people first. Genuinely caring for and about people will create positive momentum and overall happiness that will continue to grow.

Many studies – including this one from the Harvard Medical School, have shown that being grateful is the fastest way to achieve happiness. There are simple ways to show gratitude. The quickest way is to say “Thank You” to everyone you come into contact with. It’s a habit that can change nearly every interaction from a transaction to one of appreciation. Another is to give compliments. Did someone hold a door for you? Don’t just say ‘Thank you’… tell them ‘that’s very thoughtful of you’. Did you see an exceptionally well-behaved child in the supermarket? Compliment both the child and the parent. They will feel good and so will you.

Smile – a Lot!

Smiling really can make people happier and create a more positive mindset!
Smiling really can make people happier and create a more positive mindset!

Smiling really can make people feel happier! A team of psychologists combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants and found that facial expressions have a direct impact on our feelings. Smiling makes you feel happier. Scowling makes you feel angrier. Frowning makes you feel sadder!

Build Resilience in Your Children

Without getting into the ‘nurture versus nature’ argument, our mindset as parents can have a major impact on our children’s futures.

Children are born optimists. Their world is filled with wonders. They laugh. They play. They imagine. Their world has no limits. But a negative parental mindset can bring that world crashing down. What is said and seen in the home impacts a child’s resilience.

There is ample research to show that teens who have a positive mindset, do better at school, have stronger friendships, and are more likely to progress to a happy, fulfilled life as an adult than their peers lacking that resilience.

What future do you want for your children? Your mindset might just be the determining factor. One of the best studies I have read on the subject is The Confident Mind by Dr. Nate Zinsser. It shows how we can change our inner thoughts to achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Reassess the Things That Motivate You

If money is your biggest motivation, then tough times are going to create major challenges for you.

While it’s essential to manage your finances – and those of your business (if applicable), responsibly, focus on the reasons you got started in your current career. Was it that you saw an opportunity, the chance to be autonomous, or because you wanted to bring solutions to real-life challenges? Money is the by-product of success. Focusing on the real reason you do what you do will reinforce that positive mindset and carry you through tough times.

Wrapping it up:

A good mindset is all about pushing out the negativity and filling the void with positivity. Look for the small wins and celebrate them. Don’t set unrealistic goals. A good life is about moving forward – a step at a time – every day.

The very fact that you are able to read this article is a cause for celebration. Your future is wonderful… with the right mindset!



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