How to Stay Positive in the Face of Adversity AKA Alchemy

Read on to learn our best advice on how to stay positive in the face of adversity—an especially timely topic as we face new uncertainties as a global community.

If you have heard the phrase “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade,” then you know the root of No Barriers Life Element, Alchemy. No Barriers defines Alchemy as harnessing life experience into optimism. If you face a challenge or something really difficult in life, by being an alchemist, you can find the lessons learned or new possibilities that may not have existed before. It can help you go stay positive during troublesome times, as working hard to find positivity in life is necessary for fulfillment—and the ability to give back.

Understanding Alchemy, one of the No Barriers Life Elements

alchemy no barriers life

No Barriers believes Alchemy is key to living a life without barriers. Positivity in life is an extremely important aspect of overcoming obstacles no matter how big or small. From receiving criticism at work to losing a loved one, there are hopeful ways to look at all situations. Although there are times and places for all emotions, being positive can be the through-line that helps you move through difficulty.

Many of No Barrier’s programs challenge participants to find new outlooks on life and give them tools to practice Alchemy back home. Even though a positive life outlook is not always the norm, it is worth the work because through that lens, the possibilities are endless. Here are some great tips to stay optimistic no matter what life throws at you!

How to stay optimistic

1. Surround yourself with others who are also working to maintain a positive outlook

The community you surround yourself with has a larger impact on you than you may think. When you have a positive environment around you, they will be able to support you on those days when you are struggling to keep yourself positive. They will also be able to bring many other outlooks and strategies to keeping alchemy at the forefront of life. 

2. Work to keep all situations in perspective

Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill… It is often easy to make a big deal out of a little situation. One of the easiest ways to create alchemy and master how to stay positive in hard times is to take a step back to see the bigger picture. Otherwise, overreacting can exacerbate the situation and cause you to feel even more stressed and upset than necessary, which in turn makes being positive even harder to maintain. When something happens in life, take a deep breath and keep the long-game in mind.

Look at the situation in a light that is positive and leads to life or a new form of a new life – Mary Beth Anderson Fisher, No Barriers Community Member

3. Exercise regularly and get good sleep

Taking care of your body and health is so important because that is the basis of your life. If you are healthy, you will be able to take on life better. Staying healthy also helps you keep a clear head which will help to keep alchemy at the forefront of your mind when issues arise. 

Now, more than ever, make time to go outside, feel the sun on your face, and breathe in the fresh air. Especially during isolation, it is essential we answer the question of “how to stay optimistic” with the answer of time outside.

4. Communicate with others

Whether it is with your friends, family members or therapist, having someone to think everything through with is so helpful. When you are in the thick of it, having an outside perspective to bring you back to earth is super important. This perspective can help keep you positive by balancing out each perspective and finding a positive middle ground.

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5. Write a gratitude list

Sometimes the best thing to do when you are feeling negative and down is remind yourself of the good things in your life. Writing a list of at least five things you are grateful for is proven to boost happiness and positivity, especially when you outwardly express that gratitude to those who make the list. This little act helps keep you in check and bring being positive back to the forefront of your situation. 

The No Barriers community weighs in

J.R. Martinez

J.R. MartinezJ.R. Martinez is the definition of being an Alchemist. He is an actor, best-selling author, motivational speaker, advocate, and US Army veteran who also suffered severe smoke inhalation and burns to 34 percent of his body. After 34 months in recovery and 34 different surgeries, he’s focusing on shifting his perspective.

We’d like to share a sentiment from him with you all today. JR says:

“Alchemy is the process of taking challenges and turning them into possibilities… and there are endless possibilities.”

And we truly believe this to be the case, there are endless possibilities, sometimes you just have to look in a different direction or shift your perspective to harness a situation into optimism. 

>> Listen to Our Interview with J.R. Martinez on the No Barriers Podcast

Debra Mize

“My shift is changing frustration into action. Being in a chair is frustrating sometimes in a world used to hiding those who have disabilities away. I got MAD. often. I APOLOGIZED frequently for having to have my needs met. I AVOIDED situations where I used my imagination to predict my outcome.

No more. I realized recently that the Note 9 in my bag is a lifeline in difficult times because of the ability it gives me to reach out but that is not the best usage. I take that device out now and press record video. I forward it immediately to the appropriate people/ entity. So far I have had two positive results—a crosswalk where the button for the light was inaccessible and a hospital is putting in a sidewalk where none was available coming from a major road. I have much more to do!”

Amy Saffell

amy saffell no barriers

“I’m Executive Director of a youth wheelchair sports and independence nonprofit, and this year has been absolutely crazy. This year, I really haven’t had (or taken…probably depending on the day) enough time to nurture my friendships, make new friends, and do some of the things that really personally fulfill me. While this course is helping me get back to and explore areas of my personal purpose and passions that may be outside of my professional life, I can definitely still reframe it and think about all of the kids I work with who have either continued or had brand new adaptive sports opportunities this year and who have grown more into their independence so that they can then develop and live out their own passions and purposes. 

It’s been a wild year but a great one when I think back about it. Now, it’s just time to remember to step back and reframe the crazy times and simultaneously realize and act on my own need for my own time to develop my own personal purpose, too. The better I can be for myself, the better I can be for them, too.”

tim peterson no barriers

Tim Peterson

“My alchemical moment was switching from being a victim of PTSD to the beneficiary of Post Traumatic Stress Growth (PTSG). Searching for how to embrace the natural human adaptation to experiencing trauma can make me stronger.

Embracing the reality that there is nothing wrong with me. There just a new normal.”

>> Stay Connected to the No Barriers Community via our Facebook Group

Cindy Chalmers Slack

“I have also become much more positive since experiencing my daughter’s TBI. The world of brain injury is so much more vast that I ever realized, even as a health care professional. I really do not sweat the small stuff any more.”

How do YOU maintain positivity in life?

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Photo Credit: Micah Baird / No Barriers

In order to learn how to stay positive in the face of adversity, you must have courage and dedication to push through any obstacles in your way. From the tips above and many more, we truly believe alchemy can be a key element in anyone’s life, sometimes you just have to look in a different direction or shift your perspective to harness a situation into optimism.

No Barriers strives to help people base their life around alchemy. With help from people like you, we can continue to help people break through obstacles and support them in all walks of life. 

Support Others to Alchemize! Donate to No Barriers

This article is part of an ongoing series that explores the No Barriers Life Elements in-depth. Find additional articles here:

  1. How to Create a Vision for Your Life
  2. 7 Stories of Reach & Why Goal Setting is Essential
  3. Pioneering: Easier Said Than Done
  4. Rope Teams & The Value of Community
  5. How to Stay Positive No Matter What AKA Alchemy
  6. 4 Steps to Find Gifts from the Struggle & Celebrate Your Summits
  7. How to Be the Best Leader You Can Be & Elevate Others
March 19, 2020
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