When life hands me lemons, I’ll admit, there are times I’d rather squeeze the juice in someone’s eye than make lemonade. As satisfying as that may sound, knowing how to bring positive thoughts to a negative situation, and to life in general, will definitely bring you more long-term happiness.
So, since October is National Positive Attitude Month, it seems like a good opportunity to try incorporating these seven habits into your everyday life and watch that frown turn upside down:
1. Keep a Blessings Journal
Financial stress, relationships gone awry, unpleasant workplace … it’s easy to get caught up in all of life’s challenges. However, stop for 60 seconds and analyze the past week – I’ll bet you can find a handful of positive things that happened in your life. Now write them down. Take the time to journal once a week, recognizing even the smallest blessings the universe has given you. Our minds tend to focus on the negatives, so this exercise will redirect your thinking. You may quickly find some peace of mind knowing that along with the downs in life, there are plenty of ups.
2. Use Uplifting Rhetoric
The words you use to describe your life have more power than you may realize. Every day, we unconsciously train our brains to think a certain way and react to situations in a specific manner. If you tell yourself things like, “My life is boring” or “I hate my job,” then the way you think and feel will be affected. Demeaning thoughts can (and most likely will) result in a cynical demeanor and a reluctance to take on life’s beautiful challenges. Making the decision to replace these thoughts with positive words not only can flip your attitude but can make you feel physically better as well.
3. Have No Fear of Failure
Positive people are usually also optimistic people. They tend not to focus on what they can’t-do, but rather what they can do. A certain amount of failure may be inevitable – there will be times when you aren’t the best on the team, and sometimes you may even come in last. While accepting defeat is inherently difficult, these are the optimal moments to grow and learn as a person. Instead of focusing on the failure, make a quick list of what you can do better next time – and then make sure there IS a next time. To quote William Hickson’s classic proverb, “‘Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try, try again. If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”
As someone who practices yoga, I have always had an admiration for my peaceful teachers. I’m sure they deal with as much stress as the next person, yet they constantly exude a remarkable degree of calm and serenity. What’s their secret? They’ll no doubt tell you their top alleviator of stress is their breathing exercises. Compared to shallow breaths, lengthened breathing allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream, helping to repair and nourish the body’s cells. Focusing on the rhythm of your breaths can also help you slow down and de-stress in a time of chaos. It’s a way to recenter and remind yourself what’s going right.
5. Perform Random Acts of Kindness
Just last week, the stranger in the car ahead of me paid for my coffee and pastry in the drive-thru line at my favorite coffee shop. Unknown to the good Samaritan, this random act of kindness completely turned around what I had determined was going to be a lousy day. Positivity is contagious and can be used to inspire others to think and feel the same way. I returned the favor by paying for the person behind me. From there, who knows how far the chain continued. Try to be conscious of small, thoughtful gestures you can do for others, and then carry them out. By making someone else smile, you too will benefit.
6. Surround Yourself With Go-Getters
“You will become who you surround yourself with.” If I had a dime for every time I heard that from my mom, I could be driving the latest sports car. It wasn’t until the middle of college that I realized she is absolutely right. Who you hang out with and the attitudes toward life embodied in those individuals will 100 percent of the time rub off on you and your perception of the world. I understand it can be hard to let go of certain relationships, but do yourself a favor and at least complete a trial run. Spend a week away from that toxic person in your life (you know who that is), and see how your thoughts change. If you’re striving to be the best you can be with each new day, having a support system of those who want the same is an invaluable resource for positive thinking.
7. Let the Past Be the Past
Positive thinking is synonymous with forward thinking. Letting past mistakes and regrets linger in your mind is a sure-fire way of staying stagnant. Use past decisions and experiences to learn lessons and create a better future for yourself, then leave those memories behind. Positive people understand that each day is a gift, and you can only take full advantage if you’re focused on the here and now.
Incorporating these simple habits of positivity into your everyday life can significantly impact the way you think and feel. Positive people are happy people, and happy people make the world a more enjoyable place – so go out and put a smile on someone’s face today.