You can’t be happy everyday. Each and every one of us goes through ups and downs and that’s normal. In fact, there’s an entire school of thought devoted to the idea that without the bad times, we couldn’t appreciate the good. Whether you believe this or not, one thing is for sure, most of us could think more positively most of the time. And if we did, we’d be happier more often!
Here are five practical steps to becoming a more positive – and thereby more satisfied – person!
Cope with stress
How do you cope with stress? Do you head straight for the chocolate when things get you down? Or perhaps that glass of wine to unwind turns into three? Whatever your stress-reactions are, make note of them. Only when you’re aware of a behavior can you take steps to replace it with another. After all, stress is a part of life – you may be able to reduce it, but you can’t remove it altogether. So, you’ll need new coping mechanisms – the kind that make you feel better, not worse, in the end!
Remember your joy
One self-help expert talks about creating a memory bank. This is a place where you write down things that bring you joy as they happen. Then, when you’re feeling down, you can look back on them and you’ll find you experience a sense of calm – a little bit of the happiness associated with that moment returns. This is a great thing to start doing – but in the meantime, make a list of some people or experiences that make you feel good and calm. Think about your favorite vacation spots, or your last workout high. Consider a pet you adore, or an aunt that made you feel particularly special.
The next time you feel particularly stressed, turn your focus to one of these uplifting thoughts. Make a conscious effort to do this instead of reaching for that ice cream or a cigarette.
Be aware of negativity
This one sounds easy, but it’s not. It requires a shift in perspective.The next time you find yourself feeling particularly negative, whether your boss has pissed you off, you’re stuck in what seems like endless traffic, or you’re simply experiencing the desire to tell the entire world to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, stop yourself. One of the most important things we can do to improve our quality of life is realize if everything is making us angry, we’re probably the problem. Not that we’ve necessarily done anything wrong, but it’s useless to be controlled by external occurrences.
Take a breath and consider the situation. Is it a chance to practice patience or communication skills? Is your energy better spent somewhere else – other than stressing about this? The answer is probably yes to both of these questions. Remain calm, refocus and recognize that negativity will get you nowhere.
Give yourself credit
Each day, make a list of what you’ve accomplished. The word accomplishment should not be reserved for huge projects, but rather, give yourself credit for doing the things you need to do to take care of you. You got up on time and had a calm morning – big accomplishment. You washed off your makeup before bed and took the time to use face cream – you’re taking care of you. You made the kids’ lunches and still had time to eat breakfast yourself – amen.
If you begin to see the little things you do through the eyes of accomplishment, you’ll feel the urge to accomplish more, and you’ll feel more productive without actually adding anything to your plate, except maybe a little “me” time.
Express your love
There’s an ideology that says we’re all part of the same energy – a universal flow. A simplified, redux explanation of Taoist philosophy is that if we go with the flow we will find peace. Part of this flow is accepting that love is energy.
Contrary to cultural obsession, true love is not simply romantic love. It is loving yourself. It is taking glory in each moment of your day. It is feeling and being loving – not in a phony, “paste on a smile when you want something” way, but in a “we are all one, and what’s good for me is good for the whole” kind of way. This does not mean being selfish – sometimes what is good for you is not necessarily what you desire (anyone who has spent time chasing the wrong mate knows this one)! What it does mean is being free with your love – your happiness – your energy.
Don’t be afraid to pay compliments. Hug the people that mean something to you. Smile at that guy on the street for no reason other than that you feel like it. As you express the positivity you do feel, the amount you experience will grow. And it will spread to everyone around you.
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