I have a confession. Something that I have always struggled with in life is staying positive. I wouldn’t call myself a negative person, necessarily, I just tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I think it stems from the fact that I’m very anxious — I live very much in the future, always thinking about the consequences of my actions and potential negative outcomes. Ever since reading The Power Of Now for our book club earlier this year, I’ve tried to confront this trait head on and do what I can to change my outlook. It has been a goal of mine to be more positive, and it’s something that I continue to work on. Here are 5 tips that I have found very useful when trying to stay positive — please share any advice or tips in the comments, I would really love to hear them!
“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”
I came across this quote recently and have been putting it to practice lately. Typically when I wake up in the morning my first thoughts are along the lines of not wanting to get out of bed, or sometimes I’ll actually wake up anxious about a situation that I know will arise that day. Lately I’ve been consciously making an effort to focus on something positive instead — even if it’s something as small as listening to a certain album that I love on my way to work. Another thing that works well for me is taking a few minutes to go get a cup of coffee, stroll around the block, and acknowledge the fact that it’s a beautiful day and I get to be out enjoying it instead of wasting several hours of it sleeping in.
This is probably the most effective method I’ve tried when it comes to staying positive. My life has been far from perfect, and I’ve lost people I love dearly… but I still have so much to be thankful for. It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day problems and lose sight of the big picture. Keep a small journal in your bag and when you’re having a really down day or moment, write down some of the things you’re thankful for — I’ve found myself writing down the big things like family, love, health, “little” things like having a car that gives me the freedom to go where I want to go, or simple things like flowers and sunny days. The point is, you’ll find yourself filling page after page, so easily, that you start to forget why you were being negative in the first place. When you have so much to be grateful for, it’s hard to be negative about something that ends up seeming so unimportant.
Carry reminders with you.
OK. So you’ve made your list of things you’re thankful for, but maybe you left your journal at home, or don’t have access to a pen and paper. I like to carry little reminders with me, or even wear them. Write a positive message or a quote you love on a tiny piece of paper, stick it in an apothecary bottle, and wear it around your neck. The bottle at the far right above is holding wild flowers that I brought back with me from the wellness retreat I went on in the spring. It sits on my desk at work and any time I feel stressed or am having a bad day, just looking at it reminds me of the trip I went on — and again, how lucky I am. The bottle third from the left is full of tiny seashells that I gathered at my beach house over the summer. Looking at these teeny tiny shells makes me think about how amazing nature is, how incredible the world around us is, and just like the shells, how small we (and our problems) really are.
Lend a hand.
Being positive is largely internal, but stepping outside of your mind and helping someone else can do wonders for the soul. Lately when I have a bad day, instead of taking it out on the people around me, I’ve been trying to do the opposite and go out of my way to do something kind or help someone with something. It’s amazing how quickly it can turn around your mood, because even if you don’t see the good in yourself at that moment, someone else will, and maybe that will rub off on you a little bit. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a human either — sometimes when I get home, if I’m feeling negative, I’ll spend some extra time playing with my cat or feed him some special treats just because. The look of adoration on his face, and the purring as he curls up in my lap, heals me instantly.
Take a slow walk.
This is my cure for many, many things. I was recently going through a rough week when I felt incredibly stressed out. I was going to meet a friend one night and left my apartment a half hour earlier than I was supposed to meet him. I took a roundabout route and I walked slowly. My pace is naturally very slow, but with daily life being so hectic I find myself running around at a crazy pace — and on this day I had to consciously tell myself to slow down. It had been so long since I had done this, and even this simple act of slowing down, taking the time to appreciate my surroundings (I have a whole new appreciation for the phrase ‘stop and smell the roses’) and just be, made me happier than anything else had in a while. It changed my whole outlook and by the time I met my friend I felt happy, relaxed, and yes…positive.
What do you do to stay positive? I would love to hear any advice and comments you have to offer!
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