Photo by Kelly White
Tom Kens, a veteran, self-help author and healthy-living teacher at Moraine Valley Community College, presented “Staying Positive in a Negative World” Jan. 6 at the Chicago Ridge Public Library
By Kelly White
With the influx of negative news and tragedies going on in the world, it is important to still have a positive outlook on life.
Tom Kens, a proud veteran, self-help author, and healthy-living teacher at Moraine Valley Community College, said our brains are biased to think negatively. We lean naturally to the glass half-empty, and we tend to dwell on our mistakes.
“You can have 100 good things happen to you in one day and one bad thing, and what are you going to dwell on – the one bad thing,” said Kens, of Tinley Park.
Kens said that research shows that the average person thinks 60,000 thoughts per day with over 45,000 of those thoughts being negative.
“Your thoughts are powerful. You are always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Like Henry Ford said, ‘Whether you think you can, or think you can't - you're right’,” he said.
Kens, who is a certified fitness trainer and a specialist in performance nutrition with the International Sports Sciences Association and a wellness coach with New York Strength Inc., earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from Eastern Illinois University.
He shared some of his positive thinking tips and tricks on Jan. 6 at the Chicago Ridge Public Library, 10400 S. Oxford Ave., through a presentation called “Staying Positive in a Negative World.”
“Looking for the good and positive things in the world changed my life and I believe it can change others’ lives for the better, too,” Kens said. “That's why I started giving programs at libraries, to help others live healthier, happier lives.”
Kens provided 10 simple and practical techniques to help retrain the brain to think positive and to starve negative thoughts.
The steps included unplugging and tuning in to the life and positive things around you. To achieve this, Kens recommended limiting news stories to curb negative thinking. The majority of the time, news, radio and modern-day media portray the world in a depressing and hostile way. Too much exposure might awaken anger, anxiety, or depression, Kens said.
Other techniques included writing down what you are grateful for, posting physical photographs of friends, family, pets, and nature in your everyday surroundings to remind you of your blessings, living with virtue, exercising, writing or journaling, appreciating the ordinary, setting boundaries and building a routine.
“These techniques will retrain your brain to see the good in life,” Kens said.
Making it more difficult for some during this time of year is seasonal depression, often called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the winter blues or cabin fever. This is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall, worsening in winter, and ending in spring.
“Colder temperatures and shorter days you interact less with others,” Kens said. “Isolation is a breeding ground for negative thoughts.”
Lori Lysik, adult programming coordinator at the Chicago Ridge Library, agreed.
“I do think that seasonal depression can contribute to negative thoughts in adults,” Lysik said. “When it starts to get dark out, people, just in general, feel more tired and fatigued. If you are prone to depression, it tends to set in when winter begins or when the days get shorter. Also, the holiday season is not necessarily a happy season for everyone and the stress of it can also contribute.”
“Even in the chilly temperatures, it is important to remain grateful for all of life’s blessings and try not to take anything for granted,” Kens said.