When trouble strikes or we fall upon difficult circumstances, we can still make decisions as to how we will chose to live with our new life circumstances. Do we look at the situation as something that has fallen upon us, leaving us beholden to those circumstances – or can we resolve to look for the happiness in the cards we’re dealt?
One thing is clear. While we can’t control what happens in life, we can manage our responses and our outlook. People often connect trouble or strife to a feeling of helplessness – and it’s true that the bigger the hurdle, the more important it is to detect that sliver of happiness lurking below the surface. We are all granted this choice as part of our existence – to select either the bright or the not-so-bright side of things. But how do you choose?
The benefits of optimism
There is nothing wrong with wanting the best possible outcome, but when something less than that happens, a critical decision needs to be made – even in the heat of emotion. An optimistic attitude increases your likelihood of success, and it actually promotes good health. Every time you choose optimism over pessimism, your immune system gets a boost. On the flip side, when negativity infiltrates your body the odds are greater that physical and mental illness will seep in. If you want to step over to the happy side of the fence, try these tips to tap it and trap it:
5 happy steps
Stop, breathe, and then pick “happy.” It sounds a bit corny, but it actually works. By breathing deeply you affect your body and mood in a positive way, ensuring that your head is in a clear state, and thus more prepared to tackle challenging situations.
Stock your “bright side” toolkit. Dig deep into your memory bank, and pull out three surefire things that make you happy or instigate laughter. Commit them to your top-of-mind memory, or just type them into your phone, calendar, or gmail account. When your sad self is threatening to overtake your happiness, swap the sapping thoughts for happy ones.
Avoid negativity. Actually pin it down, and get specific. For instance: you look outside, and it’s pouring rain – on a day you are supposed to host an evening barbecue. You’re hoping to avoid cancelling, since all the food and drink are already chilling on ice. Instead of getting stuck, devise a plan to avoid your worst-case scenario. Be creative and move it inside! Clear out the living room, spread out beach towels, and have a picnic. If the weather takes a turn for the better, you’re still set. You could continue with the party as originally planned, or spice it up by trying something new.
Reinforce the positive. This one is a snap. When something threatens to bring you down, challenge that thought by stating your new mantra. “I choose to be happy.” It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be upset… it just means you are choosing not to get stuck there all day long, by installing a happiness-oriented mindset. Challenge yourself to fight back when the negativity attacks. Duke it out to the finish until you’ve squelched the ugly naysayer within.
Invent a silver lining. Let’s say it’s the day before you and your family are blazing out of town for a much-needed weekend away. Your boss pops into your office and informs you that the trip will have to wait – duty calls. Sure, that is awful – but is there another way to look at it? You do have a job, after all! Also, by complying, you are agreeing to do them a “favor.” This puts you in a prime position to ask for a concession in return, a make – good of sorts – because, let’s face it – they owe you. Turn the negative situation into a positive by asking for an extra vacation day, or request that you be able to leave early on Fridays for a month.
Just remember – no matter what the circumstances, you really do have a choice as to how to handle the news. There is a lot more to be gained by deciding to make the best of it. By reaching that decision now you’re getting a healthier you in return – and who wouldn’t get a little happy about that?
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