Would you like to study with more positivity?

It’s normal to have bad study days – where your workload is overwhelming, your tasks are really hard and for every step forward it feels like you fall two steps back.

Well, in this post you’re going to learn how to study with more positivity. We’ll talk about how to find studying a bit more smooth sailing so that you can ENJOY the process, not just have ‘study a crap ton’ as an arduous task on your never-ending to-do list.

You’re going to learn my super simple, super quick tip to help you study with more positivity so that not only your day-to-day studying is easier…but you’ll be more excited about all your future studying and learning too.

This post originated as a podcast episode which you can listen to below or search for episode 139 of the Chloe Made Me Study podcast. Or, if you’re a more of a learn-by-reading student, carry on for the rough-and-ready blog version based on the script.

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When we have a bad study day we have a few options – although they may not always feel like conscious options. We could get swallowed by the bad day…sink into the bad feelings, feel disappointed, start crap-talking ourselves and generally feel rubbish and make no progress.

…Or we could try to be kind to ourselves and shake off those bad thoughts. I talk about mindset a lot on my podcast and it’s normally always to share advice for what to do when you’re not feeling so great. But I don’t often share advice for what to do when things are going well. And you may think, but why would I need advice when things are great? That’s what I want to share with you today.

So before we kick off I want you to ponder this.

Where does your brain go when you’re having a good study day? When your study session is going well or you receive a good mark or even just for 2 minutes you feel hopeful?

Do you lean into these thoughts? Pay attention to them? Cultivate them? Expand them? Or do you immediately temper them and rationalise them?

Do you come back with, ‘oh but that mark was probably a fluke and I’ll get a low mark next time!’ Or, do you tell yourself ‘this feeling won’t last’?

In the rest of this post we’re going to talk about

  • Why our brains do this. Why they find it easier to think negatively
  • I’m going to share a little about my recent journey to running a half marathon and my experience with positive, expansive thinking
  • Then we’re going to apply this to our studies and come away with simple ways to be more positive, hopeful and excited in our studies. To spend more time in the positive.

I’ve touched on this area a few times in the podcast but evolution has a lot to answer for.

Our brains have evolved to keep us safe and alive. To do this our brains need to pay more attention to what could go wrong, the risks, the dangers, the threats…rather than the opportunities or good stuff.

Our brains are like velcro for negative experiences and Teflon (the non-stick pan coating) for positives. We need to work a bit harder for the positive stuff to stick.

Last year I picked running back up again and over five months I trained to run a half marathon. There were PLENTY of tough times throughout training BUT there were also moments of expansiveness that happened along the way that I leaned into where I felt great and ambitious and thoughts and images flew through my mind of running becoming a bigger part of my life, of running faster and farther and harder.

Now, I could temper my ideas of running a full marathon or even doing an ultra…or I could just dream a little and enjoy floating around in the expansiveness.

What if these pockets of expansiveness and daydreaming are the key to unlocking greater day-to-day motivation, positivity and hope?

Because they remind ourselves of the good things. They also help us connect our current actions to a larger, more longer-term identity. And EVERYTHING is easier when we connect it to who we are.

We could think of ourselves as merely a person who’s studying right now at this point in their life, or we could see ourselves as a life-long learner and our current course is just the next step. I could think of myself as a non-runner who’s just having a dabble at running right now. Or I could allow myself to lean into the fact I am a runner. A part of my identity is running and the last year has been one section of this journey.

Now, let’s relate this to studying.

I talk to some students who are partway through a undergraduate degree. They can have their not so great days where everything feels crappy and impossible, but then on their great days they might get this thought in their head of ‘oh my god, I want to do a master's at some point or, oh my god, I want to do a PhD at some point.’

It's really important that we allow those thoughts and we allow our brain to develop the habit and the strength to overcome the resistance. Because it's so easy to have those exciting thoughts of, ‘I want to do a master’s after this or I want to do a PhD after this’ and then immediately temper it and be like, ‘oh, but that's just not possible, right? Because, you know, I struggle to get through the reading as it is for my undergraduate degree. So how on earth would I cope with the level of reading for a master's or for a PhD? Or, this is the largest essay that I've written to date and I'd have to double or triple that for a master’s or PhD. Oh god, how would I even fit that into my life? Like I already struggle with this, this and this.’ 

If you get that voice in your head, and it could be a really quiet voice, it could be a loud voice. It could be a voice that only appears for a split second, that says, ‘I want to do this cool thing.’ I think we need to amplify that voice and give it more space because that voice is not a part of our brain that would have existed however many squillions of years ago.

The same could happen in your career. You might get these moments of wondering about a promotion or career change. Lean into these moments! Yes, there might be a million fears or doubts but what if you focused on the thread of hope and expansiveness in the moment? If you just gave yourself a chance to dream?

And so whenever you hear that voice in your head that says ‘I want to further my education / I want to go for a promotion / I want to change career / I want to start my own business’ – whatever that is, I really want you to listen to it.

And just give it space, without judgement, without trying to temper it and without trying to think realistically or trying to protect yourself from disappointment.

When we push ourselves to do anything in life we encounter resistance – a force within us that hates change and growth. The goal of resistance is to keep us safe and protected by our tribes. This means not doing anything that could potentially harm us or disappoint us. Or that could make other members of our tribe feel jealous. Or that could lead to us feeling embarrassed or ashamed if we don’t make it. So resistance keeps us small. It keeps us from standing tall and setting ourselves apart from others.

You’re reading this blog post because you want a big life with big goals and big success. So you’re going to need to find strategies to overcome the resistance that’s innate in us. So lean into those moments of expansiveness because it’s good to dream and hope…and suddenly taking action in the direction of those dreams will be a whole lot easier.

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