The Importance of Positivity

Tyler Strull, Contributing writer

About a month ago, I was preparing to take the SAT for the second time. I wasn’t satisfied with my first score, so I felt that it was important to take it again. While studying, one of my friends had received his score: a 1590, one question off of perfection.

The day before my test, I asked him if he had any tips to improve my score, and one specific point stuck with me: It’s less about what you study and how often you do it, but more about having a positive mindset. If you’re reading passages about paint drying and grass growing, you need to get yourself excited to read about paint drying and grass growing. If you go into the test with a negative mindset, you won’t do well.

I used this strategy during my test and my score improved by 80 points. It was at that moment that I realized that maybe having a positive attitude is more important than I initially thought, especially while trying to live life during a global pandemic.

As a senior in high school, coping with the pandemic has been hard. Losing my final football season and not being able to experience a traditional senior has been very impactful. As tough as it’s been for me, millions of others on earth have had their lives turned upside down too, and it’s much easier to focus on the negatives instead of the positives.

In the United States alone, over 15 million people have been infected with the virus, and over 250,000 people have tragically passed away. 2020 has been one of the most stressful and traumatic years most of us have ever experienced, but it’s not going to help us if we sit here and do nothing but look at all the negative effects that this year has had on us.

The best strategy to cope with any sort of traumatic experiences is to see the positives in the situation. I’m here to bring you through just a few of many possible strategies to handle negative situations.

One way to accomplish this is to look towards the light at the end of the tunnel. This pandemic is almost over. Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are showing to be nearly 95% effective, and Pfizer’s vaccine has just been approved by the FDA. This vaccine is being tested and pushed out as we speak. It is a huge step forward in our attempt to return to normalcy.

Another idea to think of is that you are not battling through this pandemic alone. 330 million other people in the United States are dealing with the same issue. Reach out to your loved ones, your best friends, your neighbors, your distant relatives. Keeping in touch with people you are close with is a great way to keep your mind in a positive place.

The last and one of the most important points is to stay informed with what is going on, but also not to stay too informed. It’s very easy to stress about something as serious as the Coronavirus. You’d be driving yourself crazy if you tried to keep up with every single news article, broadcast, or story about COVID-19. If you were to take information from several different news stories, their stories may conflict with each other. Instead of this obsession, try sticking to one of two sources to stay informed, and don’t spend every waking hour of every day reading about the coronavirus. Spend time doing other things that make you happy.

Now you may be asking yourself: what are the benefits of a positive attitude? Doesn’t it just oversimplify tragedy? Does it make your thoughts and hopes for the future unrealistic? Despite these possible concerns of a positive attitude, several health professionals and psychologists believe that an overall positive attitude in life brings many more benefits than it does negative effects.

The Mayo Clinic, a healthcare company founded in Minnesota, has determined that there are several mental health benefits that come from a positive mindset. Some of these benefits include an increased life span, decreases in rates of depression and stress, and better coping skills during stressful or difficult situations.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, people who think positively generally have a 13% lower chance of having a heart attack or other coronary complications than their negative counterparts. These are just a few or the several benefits that there are to having a positive outlook on life.

Despite this pandemic being one of the most stressful events that we have ever experienced, a positive attitude can help all of us mentally by being able to block out all the negativity that comes from hardships. The importance of positivity even goes beyond dealing with tough situations. There are numerous benefits to a positive attitude that can significantly improve you and your mental health. As former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Think to yourself, which kind of person would you rather be? The person who always think negatively and struggles to cope with difficult situations? Or the person who always sees the bright side, and is significantly better at coping with tragedy? The choice is yours.