Cynical, judgmental and negative thoughts can consume us if we let them. It’s easy to become depressed and discouraged, thinking that the odds are hopelessly stacked against us and we’re left all alone to fend for ourselves. Obviously, life can be difficult and challenging, but we always have a choice when it comes to how we respond to our circumstances. We can develop a positive mental attitude and look on the bright side. We can build mental stamina that keeps us empowered and hopeful, no matter how trying our situation becomes. If you want to adopt the kind of life approach that reveals a happy you regardless of opposition, here are five tips.
1. For starters, write down everything you have to be grateful for
In the midst of a trial or crisis, it’s easy to think that you have nothing going for you, but focusing on the negatives will only keep your spirits down. Get out a pen and piece of paper, or launch a word program, and begin to write a list of everything you have in life to be grateful for. Keep brainstorming until you’ve come up with at least one hundred things.
Make your list authentic and specific to your circumstances, but consider writing down your family, friends, neighbors, occupational opportunities, housing, food, clothing, transportation, health, religion, education, talents, hobbies and so on.
If you’re currently feeling discouraged because of the onset of something like diabetes, for example, you can still think through what a blessing it is to have sight, hearing, mobility, etc. If you’re in the midst of a divorce, you can still think of what positive family associations that you do have like a mother who loves you or children who mean the world to you. If you’ve just lost your job, you might be able to reason through how advantageous it is that you’ve already paid off your car or that you have the schooling that you do, which will help you secure a new position.
Things could always be worse so recognize what good you do have in life even though things aren’t perfect.
2. Each day, record one thing about that day that worked out well
Whether you call it a gratitude journal, a thanks diary or even just a notebook, procure some sort of handy paper source for you to write in everyday. You can buy a cutesy journal, stick to a standard spiral or even create your own binder. Since you’re going to use this book as a way to daily remind you to praise the good in your life, go ahead and embellish the book in a way that lifts your spirits even just by looking at it. Every night, think of at least one component of the day that you’re grateful for.
Your entries can be extremely formulaic with each day starting with “I am grateful for” and then finishing the sentence in a unique way. Alternatively, you can vary your format and some days draft your entry by saying “I love” such and such “because . . . .” Keep the entries completely positive. Even if something bad did happen during the day, you can still be genuine in your journal of thanks by expressing appreciation for the time you got to spend with a loved one before she passed on or that your friend safely survived some catastrophic accident.
There is always something to be grateful for in each day so put your thinking cap on and force yourself to list at least one of the good things in life that you can be happy about.
3. Surround yourself with positivity
Negative people and cynical forms of entertainment can keep you down. Surrounding yourself with complainers who respond with sarcasm and snark to everything can drastically influence your own thoughts and feelings. If you really want to have a positive mental attitude, empowered to see the best in situations and people, keep yourself in good company. Spend time with those who uplift and edify, helping you to feel great about yourself and positive about life.
When a boss or family member is the one who is constantly complaining, it may not be optimal to completely cut ties, but we can encourage positivity by not joining in on any venting sessions, which can just add fuel to the fire. We can also change the topic when conversations are completely saturated with negativity and we can avoid settings that we know are conducive to that person letting loose.
4. With every interaction or experience, recognize what’s good
As trials come and go, train yourself to recognize what positive outcomes have resulted. Identify what you have learned, what you have gained. A sad experience can still provide valuable life lessons so be appreciative and realize how it is that you can sincerely give thanks for your various interactions.
A job interview might not have gone well, but you can let the takeaways gleaned help you to do better next time. A friend might have hurt your feelings, but perhaps you now are in a better and more sensitive place to avoid doling out the same kind of hurt to someone else because you know the pain potentially attached to such a comment or act. See what worked out well even in the midst of an experience that wasn’t that great overall and be grateful accordingly.
5. Look around and find ways to serve
Part of being positive and happy is positively engaging with others, temporarily forgetting yourself and your own worries in order to help another who is perhaps in a more critical condition himself.
Look around you everyday and see what simple and small ways there are for you to help another in need. Daily, simple acts of kindness are what make the world go ‘round so join in on the fun and see your attitude naturally improve with each selfless moment.
When looking for ways to serve, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can help someone at the grocery store who can’t reach a product off of the top shelf. You can pay for a co-worker’s snack out of the vending machine. You can volunteer to help with a community service project. There are millions of ways to reach out to those around us so stick to what methods work for you.
The video below called One Day by Matisyahu may help you find inspiration: