Sarah Hussain is a medical student, writer and aspiring photographer who has been a Fight for Peace member for around three years, and is now also a member of the Young Creatives project. In her most recent blog, she shares some powerful insight into how she interprets the true meaning of a positive mindset.

Despite this being quite a complex term, often the idea of a ‘positive mindset’ is simplified. I think society has taught most of the population to think to be ‘happy’, ’motivated’, and  ‘focused on big goals’ equals positive, which equals a positive mindset. 

But is this really what a positive mindset is? Because that definition seems to only cover one side of emotions – when we are happy. So, what about when we are low, hopeless and have no ambition, does feeling in these ways automatically mean we don’t have a positive mindset? No, of course not. 

Before I go into defining a positive mindset, let’s just reflect on the term  ‘positive emotions’. What came to your mind? 

I believe society has categorised emotions into positive and negative based on which ones feel good to us and which ones are uncomfortable. A difficult emotion does not necessarily make it a negative emotion. All our emotions are a way of our body communicating and sending us signals, so actually all our emotions are good because they all help us in some way. 

If we’re low we reflect on it, and wonder what is not working out. If we’re happy, we know that something we have done has satisfied us and we then know what actions to carry out to bring about happiness in our lives. 

We’ve established that essentially all emotions are helpful. Let’s go back to a positive mindset. In order to maintain a positive mindset, we need to understand what that means when we are feeling low and down. Because it’s easy to be motivated and optimistic when we are happy and excited. However, being positive when you are down does not mean to try to become happy. 

A part of a positive mindset is allowing yourself to feel all emotions and making space for them. It’s also about being open to making changes or refinements during challenging moments. Instead of saying ‘why is this happening to me?’ try saying ‘why is this happening for me?’

I myself struggle with low mood often. I started writing down a few bullet points every evening of the things I was grateful for. It could be as simple as appreciating the sun. Eventually I had a whole book filled with hundreds of things I was grateful for. So, in my low moments, opening this book would make me realise that I do have a lot to appreciate and it was quite uplifting. 

Try it. At the end of your day take five minutes to jot down what you are grateful for today. Try it for three days. Then flick through what you’ve written after a few days. It might make you feel good. Or maybe not feel anything or maybe even feel upset. 

A coping mechanism for one person is not always the one that works for another person. But it’s all about having the mindset that you are open to finding ways to help yourself in difficulty and in happiness.

Photo: Sarah Hussain

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