Tips to Maintain a Positive Attitude During Challenging Times

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 22, 2020

We are living in unprecedented times and staying positive is extremely difficult for many people.  We are self-distancing, we cannot travel, we are separated from family and friends, vacations are on hold, divorce rates are up, and many people are uncertain about their future.  In light of all this, it is only natural to feel a little less positive.

However, there are many people I have met lately who are actually turning this period into a positive experience.  People are discovering new business opportunities, some are reconnecting with family and friends, others are reassessing their life priorities, and just slowing down the pace of life.

You see we are not born with a naturally negative attitude.  We began life with four basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. These hardwired emotions are neither positive nor negative. It is how we use these emotions that make them positive or negative.

For instance, fear that stops you from risking your life, or motivates you to purchase insurance, is positive. Fear that stops you from connecting with others, taking advantage of this downtime, or exploring opportunities is negative.  Anger that motivates you to join a movement to end discrimination, or stop bullying, is positive. However, anger that causes you to harm yourself or others is negative.

People raised in a positive environment will learn additional emotions such as joy, patience, forgiveness, empathy, and gratitude.  People influenced more by a negative environment develop guilt, jealousy, distrust, and shame.

These negative or positive emotions will influence your thinking process, your day-to-day behavior, and future success. So, even during these times, being negative is a choice we do not have to make.

Your belief system is primarily created from significant experiences or conditioning received growing up. Whether you respond negatively or positively is often a learned behavior that ultimately determines your attitude and ability to connect with others.

Although the main cause of a negative attitude is a distorted belief about life and people, there is good news. As adults, we can ‘choose’ to think and behave constructively. As free-thinking adults, we are not doomed to live out the conditioning of our past.

By reframing our thoughts to more constructive interpretations, we can experience a more rewarding, happy, and successful life.

Here are some suggestions to help you maintain a positive mental attitude during this pandemic:

  • First, truly believe that maintaining a positive outlook is a choice you can make.
  • As soon as you wake up, think of three things for which you are grateful. The emotional brain is more vulnerable to outside influences in the first hour after waking than at any other time of the day.
  • Make your bed (yes, I am serious) – completing that one task will improve your mental attitude and set the tone for your day. Even if you have a bad day, you will appreciate it when you get home.
  • Assume positive intent. For instance, if someone is not wearing a face mask, consider they may have a medical reason, or sincerely suffer from claustrophobia.
“A negative attitude is like a flat tire – you are not going to get anywhere until you change it.”
  • Hang out with positive people. Studies have shown that just being around negative people will cause the neurons in your brain to fire in regions that will emotionally bring you down.
  • Get your required amount of sleep. People who are sleep-deprived tend to react to outside stimuli in a more negative way.

Abraham Lincoln once said:

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

He was right, the choice is yours.

My question for managers this week:

What are you doing to lift up yourself and your employees through these uncertain times?


Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF,

Global Speaking Fellow

International Business Transformation Specialist.


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Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

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