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Practical Tips for Staying Positive During COVID-19

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Updated April 9, 2020
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Positivity During Covid-19
Tim Brown
Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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Recently I heard Seth Godin say by the end of lockdown, what do you want to be amazing at? I decided I want to be great at ENCOURAGING – Every weekday for at least the next couple weeks I’m going to share some encouragement or practical positive mindset tips.

I’m calling it ‘the Extra Mile!’ Positive thinking Tips during Covid-19. and you can sign up to listen on Spotify as well!

Positivity During Covid-19

Positivity is Practical

I want to talk about how positivity is extremely practical. When I take on a positive attitude, in my experience I look for opportunities, I look the good, I look for next steps based on the fact I am hoping or assuming things will go well.

  • It increases my creativity, because if I can imagine for a second that all will go well (and I may actually be better off after this difficult period) – I get motivated and creative about making that a reality.
  • It increases my energy – because being depressed isn’t motivating. If I spend all my time focusing on the future I don’t want, my energy goes low.
  • Hey – I don’t know if being positive is realistic… but I know it is practical.

Write out what you want 1 year to look like from now. How could you be better off because of the current challenges?

Habits for Positivity

I don’t do all of these 7 habits to become more positive I’m about to share with you, all of the time – but I do find refreshing habits to keep in a positive mindset is something I need to do quite regularly, and it’s ok to go in bursts.

In my experience here are 7 things that have sincerely helped me be more positive.

  1. Think of, or write down 3 things you’re grateful for every morning right when you wake up.
  2. Write a thank you letter a week. Even doing this for 3 months was extremely positive for me. Write to authors or public figures who spoke into you, or helped you, as well as in-person mentors parents or teachers. Just a couple ideas.
  3. Write out how the bad thing could be a good thing… Napoleon Hill said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.
  4. Unfollow the incessant bad news – go follow @tanksgoodnews on Instagram, good news network.org or UpliftingNews on Reddit
  5. Music – make a habit of curating positive mixes, there’s tons positive wordless playlists for work too – check out hookagency.com/tunes for some.
  6. Exercise – endorphins! Yay- you know what I’m talking about.
  7. Meditation – literally just sitting and focusing on your breath is helpful, though apps like Calm make it easier.

No joke – there’s probably 100 more. If you’re watching this, comment below with one to help your fellow anxious humans..

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I’m grateful I live in the age of the iPhone and can share like this, I’m grateful that anyone ever watches these videos and I’m grateful I can breathe. See 3 things are super easy – think of them each morning 🙂

Trust Yourself

One of the most impactful ways I’ve learned to cultivate a positive mindset is simply to “TRUST MYSELF”

What this means is:

  1. Understanding for many things – no one has more information about MY situation that me.
  2. Experts can give general guidance, but have you ever noticed the public information available- the answer is always “it depends”? That “it depends” means – TRUST YOURSELF
  3. Now because I’m filming this during social distancing – I feel obligated to say I’m not talking about health stuff.. I’m talking about business, marketing, job, big life choice stuff…

For instance when I was going out on my own with my new business… I always wanted someone else to give me permission…

  • Should I quit my job?
  • Is it the right time?
  • How much of a financial runway do I need?

 

So much of that depended on my intestinal fortitude – and I knew I did have it (a lot of people don’t) and do you have to use that understanding you have of your self to make these kinds of decisions and no one has more info about that than… You.

This was a huge revelation for me – that I had on a hiking trip in the Appalachians…another huge revelation from that trip?

Beware of False Summits (Wow vs. Ow)

The Appalachians helped me trust myself – climbing a giant mountain on that trip also slammed home a very important point in my mind.

Climbing up hour after hour, I kept on coming to what I thought was the top. However, I would get up to that top and see through the mist that there was an even higher peak above. I had to stop assuming the top I was seeing was the real top.

  1. I had to beware of false summits. They were extremely demotivating. I had to learn that even though the next leg of the journey would be difficult and I still had a long way to go – I had to try to think about what was interesting about the current leg.
  2. I see people all the time that “think they’ve made it” and no offense… even though many of them are farther than me… I don’t want to get stuck there. If you’re successful, but you’re not nice to your employees for instance, is that really success? Or is there a lot more journey that you could go… I believe we all have further to go in our personal journey and that’s exciting and motivating.
  3. Stephan Bajaio recently told me an anecdote he’d heard – 2 climbers, same training, same build, same everything. 1 made it – the other didn’t. Why? 1 every time they came to a stopping point, one would only look up at the summit, and the other would glance back at how far they’d come every once in a while. So the difference between the successful and unsuccessful is “Wow” mindset, and the “Ow” mindset.

Can you look how far you’ve come in the past year, past 5 years, past 10 years? How much you’ve grown and learned? How much you’ve progressed.

Books for Positivity

I’m of the mind it takes work to keep yourself positive… and perhaps you want or need something of more substance here… some of these books I’ve read 3 and 5 times because they’re that good.

  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  2. 10X Rule by Grant Cardone
  3. Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  4. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr
  5. Antifragile by Nassib Talib

The basic idea is Think and Grow Rich is that you can use affirmations, to seed the pot of your mind with positivity, and having a clear defined purpose allows your subconscious to continually help you achieve it.

The 10X Rule is about taking your goal and multiplying your goal by 10 and saying what would I need to do to hit that, and then taking massive action toward that.

Factulness gives you in clear data why the world is literally better than its ever been and is getting better every year, from the worst poverty being diminished by 60-80% in the last 40 years, to 100’s of other clear stats that turn the idea of slowly dying society on its head.

The Power of Full Engagement talks about high-performance executives like their athletes. Your personal energy is important to manage and this book guides you to recognize when in the day you should be wielding that, why and how.

Antifragile is heavy but has massive impact. The basic idea is that many organic things in life not only are ‘resilient’ they’re better after adversity than before it.

Tons of actionable stuff in these 5 books. Write down your goals, what actions would you take if you had to hit 10x your number, look for the real positive data that our brain sometimes ignores in its bias towards looking for threats. Stack your highest value tasks in the time of your day when you have the best energy and lastly look at how much better off you’ll be If you get hit but take the right attitude about it.

Week two: Gratefulness

Gratefulness is a Superpower

You see I believe “gratefulness is a superpower” – why? Because it’s really hard to look at all of the awesome things about your life, and feel ‘bummed out’. Try it now – go through and note 3 things you’re grateful for and see if you can maintain the same level of anxiety you had before you started doing it.

Plumbing. boom. Electricity. Boom. Indoor heating & air conditioning. boom. Running water. boom. If you’re lucky to have a smart phone, if you’re able to work for a living, if you have a roof over your head – I can go on and on. It’s great to have ambition – it’s great to be ‘dis-satisfied’ with where you are sometimes, because that’ll help drive you to get to the next level…

But sometimes you just gotta say HOLY SHIT – look how far I’ve come. That’s gratefulness man. And the pathways in your brain may steer you towards other patterns if you don’t constantly, consciously create new patterns.

The pattern should be – gratefulness. In fact, I’d almost say AWE. And for me that means looking to something bigger than myself, whether that be community, or even a greater, kinder, beautiful force that’s taking care of us. Heck, I don’t know – I’m just grateful. There’s a lot of great things going on if we look for them, even during a very scary time.

Man’s Search For Meaning

A book that made a particularly big impact on my mindset regarding gratefulness and mindset was “Man’s Search for Meaning”. In it Victor Frankl talks a lot about how we can’t control what happens to us – but we can control how we respond to it.

In response to  “I feel like killing myself,” his answer would usually be, “Well, why DON’T you?” – which sounds insanely harsh, and I wouldn’t suggest it.

But interestingly enough, if people answered genuinely – it would shed light on a golden thread that he would follow to help them become healthier versions of themselves. Like they might say [ I want to see my daughter grow up ] or [ I want to see what happens in a particular aspect of my life]

He experienced what it was like in a jewish concentration camp in World War II  – and saw some people give up and dwindle away, and others who had some light at the end of the tunnel that they would focus on and that kept them from giving up mentally.

What is that for you today – though I’m not at risk of self-harm, it is a highly stressful time in a lot of ways. My answer on why I want to keep going is just [ I really want to see the adventure through – I want to see how it unfolds, it’s interesting to me ]

I’m grateful for all of the behavioral psychologists that have helped pave the way for positive psychology and psychotherapy available out there today, and I’m grateful for mental health providers in general.

Grateful for The Hustle

I’ve seen a bunch of messaging out there during this unusual time along the lines of:

  • Just let yourself do what you want.
  • We are all ‘not fine’ during quarantine.
  • People that ‘hustle’ during quarantine and promote that idea are bad

Hey you do lockdown your way – and I’ll do lockdown mine. I don’t judge people really, I just know my brain needs activity to thrive. Am I getting use to a little less action outside of the house, yeah. But I’m treating this like every Christmas break when other people chilled. I used it to get ahead, because that’s what I like.

I like challenging myself. I feel alive when I do something new, and I would be depressed if I ‘took it easy on myself’ or used this time for naps. I’m not you. And I don’t pretend to know what makes you more positive and grateful.

Just know yourself and don’t judge other people cause they want to hustle their ass off during this time. That’s just how some people get fulfillment. For me – I don’t feel like I have to ‘be in a bad mood’ or that we’re all ‘obviously feeling that way’ – some of us don’t feel like that’s required. ‘ (not saying your not allowed to.) live and let live.

Life is Pain

I follow an account on Instagram called ‘@natureismetal’ and lions eat bears, and crocodiles eat buffalo.

Sometimes when I see people blaming the government, blaming the opposition party, blaming religion, blaming atheists, or blaming their family – I feel like they are neglecting one important fact.

Nature is brutal. Life is pain. And it’s not those people’s fault that bad things are happening. Just like there’s an incomprehensible amount of good, beautiful and inspiring things in the world – there’s also a truly mind-boggling amount of pain and death, even though I know we do our best to help others…

When it comes to our own psychology and outlook, we sometimes imagine that underlying all things it’s a bed of rose petals, and it was was all human malice that layered on the thorns.

The thorns were there all along – and our ancestors just plucked them out one by one – with each ingenious technological advancement they discovered, from houses to indoor heating to shoes.

So rather than think is existence is supposed to be comfy, I think it’s useful to come to terms with the brutality of nature – and then be grateful, because if you’re not currently experiencing pain, you are particularly lucky or blessed.

Acceptance is the Answer

Gratefulness is a superpower and life is pain… how do I reconcile these two seeming opposites?

Well… Acceptance is the first step to gratefulness.

If you’re struggling against your current circumstance, then it’s really hard to be grateful for what you do have that’s great.

“Acceptance is the Answer” is huge in 12 step programs.. (which I’m very grateful for) 😉

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation-some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Another great quote…

In response to my “life is pain” segment yesterday, James T. Olsen related this nugget: “Suffering = Pain x Resistance” Pain is inevitable, suffering is not. We only suffer if we try to resist the pain rather than embrace it or acknowledge it.

Acceptance is a great first step to gratefulness.

 

A Strong Vision is Energizing

 In this section I’m basically putting on a goal-setting BOOTCAMP! Want to get your vision, goals and habits tight in a 15 minute exercise each a day for a week?

Join me for a clear step by step approach to setting an energizing vision, breaking your goals down by 1 year, 3 months, 2 weeks, and week.. habits & bumpers to keep those habits in place, and how to be hearty & get back on your systems when you fall off.

So the first day though – I want you to have a bit of fun and take 15 Minutes and really get your ideal life 5 years from now super clear, so you know exactly what you’re aiming for.

Write out your ideal life 5 years from now. Smells, sounds, taste, touch & feel, what you’ll be looking at. How will folks be relating to you, how’s your relationship growing & healthy, family vibes, wealth & health.

How do you relate to the world? I find it useful to look at 2-3 heroes’ you want to be like – and even come up with a couple words that encompass my aspirational identity – for me I want to be a ‘magnetic listener’ – write down your 2-5 heroes, along with your ‘heroic’ aspirational identity. A couple of words that energize you and describe how you’d like to be.

If you write these things down along with the smells, sounds, tastes, touch & feel, and relationship of what your ideal life looks like…. It feels GOOD. It helps you look for little creative ways to make more of this stuff happen, and gives you something to shoot for that’s fun. I created a Google Doc template with each of these queries – quicklink hookagency.com/vision (and press copy)

Boil Big Goals Down Into Small Ones

Hey it’s Tim Brown and this is the Extra Mile – positivity during COVID-19. If you filled out the template from yesterday you have clear 5 year vision and today we’re going to break that down into smaller manageable chunks until we’re looking at the next clear steps towards that vision. (Check out the goal pyramid template I’m going to describe at a little site I spun up for it goalpyramid.com)

Why is breaking down your goals so important? Well having a vision is beautiful it can sometimes feel overwhelming so breaking it down can help you see it as manageable and make it way easier to take rhythmic, steady action towards the long term dream.

So think about it – what steps would you have taken one year from now that lead you strongly along that path towards your 3-5 year goals?

I like to have key goals 5 key categories (for instance I might choose – health & fitness, relationships, money, self-development and spirituality/centeredness- but you can choose your top 5 priorities)

Now once you have your top goal for each of those categories. – Break each of the 5 categories of goals down by 1 year, then by 3 months, then by 2 weeks, and if you want you can plot next steps into the next 3 days..

Implement 90-Day Habits

Habits are huge when it comes to accomplishing the goals you set out for yourself. I like to come up with 5 key goals for a 3 month period, and based on the book 12-week year, create a weekly habit for each of those 3-month goals.

It’s interesting because we’re starting to get to the super-specific moment where we’re implementing HABITS that are directly in line with your DREAMS. HABITS…. DREAMS.

If you did the vision exercise (hookagency.com/vision) and you did the goal pyramid exercise (goalpyramid.com) you can complement your 3-month goals you’ve cooked up-  with this template to track your weekly habits related to your 3-month goals (hookagency.com/12 and press copy) It’s from a book called 12 week year, that I highly suggest.

The whole idea in The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran is that yearly plans don’t work because too much changes in that amount of time – and 3 months is a good increment.

Another key point is that there are “Leading indicators” and “lagging indicators” of performance, and you need to track the ‘leading indicators’ as weekly or daily habits, get accountability, and implement systems for staying on top of your habits. He also talks a lot about time blocking for the key things you need to get done.

I really feel like in the end it comes down to this… if you’re not plotting key actions that will drive towards your vision and dream every week – ONTO YOUR TO-DO lists, in specific days… Why do you think you’ll ever accomplish your dream? We got to find ways to make sure our steps towards are vision is systematically hitting our to-do list. Do you have those systems in place?

Check out hookagency.com/12 (and press copy) to use the Google docs habits tracking system, and check out the 12 week year on Amazon!

Bumpers are Essential to Maintaining Habits

We’ve talked about vision, goals, and habits… now I want to introduce the under-rated hero.. which I call BUMPERS.

They say putting out your workout clothes the night before increases your chances of follow-through, and in my experience things like this really help. To me – calendar invites, a note on my phone with my to-do list, and anything else that is a nudge like alarms on a phone, or an accountability partner – are bumpers (like you know in bowling) and are the most likely elements to help you stick to your habits.

Bumpers are beautiful – and  I strongly suggest that you use them heavily in your goal setting and habit creation. A good book around this book – is Atomic Habits, by James Clear – in it, James suggests that you can go real small with your habits, like 2 minute meditation, just as long as you DO IT, it’s the pattern he says that’s important. He gives examples of people that go to the gym day after day even if they didn’t work out – just to get in that rhythm.

So my suggested 15-minute exercise today is super simple. Do you have any ‘bumpers’ that help you stick to your goals? Try to write down 1 or 2 for each of your top 5 goals!

Be Hearty & Return When You Fall Off

No one is perfect about goal setting and habits – so more important than perfection is the ability to be hearty and return when you fall off.

And more important than perfect consistency is a general rhythm that most of the time you’re making progress. Because that regularity + is where you get that compounding benefit. I just finished a year of doing 365 logos in 365 days – and I was horribly spotty at it, This was my 5th year doing a 365 day challenge and I’m going to chill for a while.

It is crazy though how much I would progress when I did one thing every day for 30 days in a row though – daily is a beautifully effective rhythm. So my 15 min challenge to you today, is to find one thing you want to better at, and start a 30day challenge and share it on Instagram or social somewhere (which is great for keeping you accountable.)

Next week may be the end of this 4-week weekday challenge for me – if the full lockdown in Minnesota ends, but you can find all these episodes in a mega guide at hookagency.com/positivity – Next week I’ll be talking about Grit, and some of ya’all need more of that too. 😉  *points at self*


 

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Tim Brown
Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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