The Psychology of Positively Impacting Those Around Us

It’s fairly normal to grow glum during the winter months or feel stressed and anxious about everything there is to do. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) when there is less daylight and it becomes cold. SAD can make people depressed and anxious.

There’s a lot we can all do to be more positive and uplifting. Here are some steps to take to bring more positivity and peace into your own life, and to spread those qualities around.

  1. Create a Positive Environment for Yourself

Creating an uplifting environment for people needs to start with yourself. After all, if you’re blue and miserable, spreading positive energy isn’t going to be easy — or necessarily possible.

First, practice good self-care. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Wear clothes that you feel make you look good and are comfortable.

Second, create something in your own life that gives you joy. In our busy lives, that might take some effort. Make a list of the five times you have been the happiest in your life. Examine those times. Is there a common denominator? Did you learn something? Meet new people? Whatever it is, you need more of it in your life now.

Perhaps your happiest moments involved travel or music, for example. If they did, you need to build travel or music into your life more.

  1. Develop Strategies for Helping People

People who have positive impacts on other people are perceived to be helpful. Help could be something as simple as providing useful information someone else doesn’t have. Explaining how you do spreadsheets at work, for example, or sharing a recipe for your grandmother’s raspberry jam. You make it clear that you like to pass on information and you like to see the positive impact in another’s life.

You might help people by engaging with them emotionally. You can put together a party to introduce your friends to someone new to the area. You can bond over a shared love of off-road biking. The emotional connection is a vital part of engagement with the other.

How about a holiday karaoke party to bring more fun into the life of everyone invited? Usually, we don’t think of parties as part of any “helping people” category. But in fact, you are bringing joy into the life of others.

  1. Build Mutually Beneficial Relationships

People like good things to happen to them. You like good things to happen to you, right? Taking that seemingly simple insight can help with one of the steps that increase the positive impact on the lives of others and your own — building relationships that are mutually beneficial.

Say that a coworker and you both work late nights to catch up on e-mails and backlogged orders. Both of you find this frustrating, as you can never go out with friends on these evenings.

What if you make a strategic plan to give both of you a break now and then? Perhaps you both decide that on Tuesday and Wednesday, only one of you will stay and do the work of both. In other words, on the Tuesday and Wednesday of week one, A will stay longer and do all the work. B will get those nights off, to do whatever he wants. Sleep more. Sing karaoke. Watch golf. Then during week two, B stays longer and does all the work on those days. This time, it’s A’s chance to go home and do whatever she wants to do.

It’s easy for us to get caught up in our own self-centered bubbles and forget the needs of others. We may think our relationships are healthy, when in reality, they are stale and mediocre. There could be so much more there.

As humans, we have certain innate tendencies that make mutually beneficial relationships a lot more difficult to maintain than we may realize. We have a hard time actively listening. We have desires to control situations and be right all the time. It takes serious introspection to take a step back and examine how you can be a better friend, coworker or acquaintance. However, your relationships will become so much richer and rewarding if you do.

4. Making an Impact

There’s an old saying “be the change you want to see.” It’s also a great idea to be the positivity you want to see. Create a more positive environment for yourself and others. It’s 100% worth the time and care it takes.

Kate Harveston is a political journalist. She blogs at and you can also follow her on twitter @KateHarveston.

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