The most negative things in the world are the easiest to access. You can find a complainer on every corner, tragedy on every news channel, braggers with every scroll of your feed, and a reason to live in sheer fear around the clock.
For busy college students, negativity may come in the form of peers who are starting to compare the way their path is shaping up against yours, professors who might be less than encouraging, and family members who still are not supportive of your major and goals.
I’ve always been a huge rejector of self-defeating thought. Super ambitious and forward-thinking from a young age, I have always gravitated to like-minded people. When you do have these traits though, you’ll often find you’re in the minority, which is a tough pill to swallow, I know.
Here’s the reality: the majority of people in the world have a limited mindset. Most people are also average.
When I say average, I don’t just mean, not known or not wealthy, I mean basic thinkers. The majority of people on earth choose the path of least resistance.
It’s the exact reason why the majority of people you know never left their hometown, or if they did, they never settled anywhere outside of their home state or province. If they were honest, they probably settled in their relationships, are not as fond of their “friends” as they’d like to pretend, are miserable despite the smiles in their social media posts, and feel generally unfulfilled.
That’s a pretty average state of being, well, AVERAGE.
If you find yourself thinking positive, upbeat, and excited about life, I know a couple of things about you. For starters, you know what you want, no matter how small, and you’re not afraid to go after it. You probably also do not fear taking a risk, or two, or three.
I also know that you see the cup as completely full, even if it’s not full at the moment, you have confidence and hope that with a little luck and a lot of work, you can get there. Thank you for being you.
For college students that practice positivity on the regular, I want you to keep the spirit of this mood alive during the tough times as you begin building your career because they will come, sometimes all at once.
As someone who’s several steps ahead of where you are now, but still figuring out how to be a beam of light in a dimmed world, here are three tips for creating staying positive on your college or university journey:
1. Guard Your Peace
This is my number one because, for those of us who want to thrive in positivity, it’s the most valuable. I think of negativity as a disease. Those who spread it are the carriers and it is our job to make sure we create a strong shield against their ideology. There are three approaches you can take when dealing with negative bloodsuckers:
Respond to their negativity with debate
Counteract them with positivity
When I was younger, my main focus was on the ladder two. I grew up around people who were the complete opposite when it came to mindset. All thoughts were centered around scarcity, rigid worldviews, and the mentality that there is only one definition of success (the path always traveled). That’s simply not me, so I would try to ‘make them understand’ why they were ridiculous and why thinking outside the box was the better option.
As you age though, you (should) become wiser.
Now that I’m in my mid-30s, I’ve come to the point where I know myself and therefore I’m comfortable in what I believe, and whoever doesn’t like it can….well, you know! I no longer need to prove anything or justify why I am the way I am or get angry if a negative person continues to wallow in their negativity.
It’s their cancer. I choose to ignore it, keep things moving along, and living my life.
The next time you run into a negative Nancy or Nelly (or even a KAREN😛😛), whining about everything from sunrise to sunset, pushing their beliefs of limitation on you, just repeat to yourself ‘This is about THEM, not ME. Not My Circus. Not My Monkeys’.
Nothing matters more than peace of mind.
2. Do one thing that helps another person each day
You would be surprised how much helping others improves your mood and creates an air of positivity in your life. I think often when we picture “helping others”, we envision grand gestures, but that’s not necessary. In many situations, ‘help’, can be replaced with words like ‘acknowledge’ or ‘consider’ others.
There have been times when I’ve changed someone’s day by simply looking them in the eye and saying hello, I know this because they’ve told me. They were grateful another human being recognized their humanity in a world buried in technology and ‘it’s all about me’ mindsets.
This is the time (and the only time) I want you to think small. What is something you can do today to help someone? Running an errand across campus? Helping someone on a class project? Being kind to a stranger in the cafe?
Giving back is a wonderful reward, and while the spoils may not be for you, they stay with you. For those of us who are believers, there is also the reward of paying it forward with good deeds to reap good deeds.
3. Find Your ‘Great Escape’ Mechanism
Each and every one of us has an ‘escape’ that makes us happy. For me, it’s a constant need for music. I could listen to music day in, day out, no interruptions. It takes me to a whole different place, I get lost in what I’m doing and music makes me feel alive.
For others, it could be bike riding, cooking, reading a good book, the list goes on and on. Your great escape is the perfect way to set yourself up for a positive mood. For introverts especially, it’s a necessary state to recharge our batteries, but it will work for everyone.
Focus on finding ways to fit your ‘great escape’ into daily life, even if it’s just for 10-20 minutes a day. I guarantee it will boost your mood and help you put things into perspective to get things done.
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Are you a chronically positive person? How do you avoid negativity and stay in your zone? What is your great escape? Until next time…
Known as The Study Abroad Specialist, Kimber Grayson is a serial-study abroader turned International Education coach and expert. Since 2014, she has helped 100+ students navigate their semester away journey from the coastal areas of Spain to China and every place in between. In 2018, she launched The LiveStudyLearn™ Abroad Association, a one-of-a-kind online membership platform for study abroad students worldwide.
She holds two Master's degrees from two well-respected London-based universities and has experience working in the US, UK & and Italy.
In her spare time (what's that again?), she enjoys leisure travel city breaks, any snow-based activity, skeet shooting, and attempting to learn new languages.