A seven-minute read on achieving a legitimately happier lifestyle
We’re going to start off strong here… positivity is a powerful force. Want to know the best thing about it? It’s a choice >>you<< make. It’s a choice that no other person, no situation, no-thing-ever can stop you from making. Because it comes from within you! You are the one in charge of crafting your perspective, your outlook, and the way you tackle every situation.
Let’s also be honest, though. Positivity can be hard. Sometimes, life seems like a constant battle with people who just want to make sure you have a bad day. Or perhaps you’re dealing with an obstacle that totally drains your [positive] energy. Or, maybe things didn’t work out the way you planned and you really, really needed them to. SPOILER ALERT: You can train yourself to pull the good out in hard circumstances. And if you absolutely can’t find it right in front of you, then you can use one of the methods below to meditate in self-control and optimism—until you’ve moved past the situation and can refill your proverbial positivity cup.
How, you ask? What’s awesome is that everyone has their own brand of happiness. No one can tell you what makes you feel good, because you’re the only “you.” And once you know, you can channel your positivity to inspire others to find their own. The steps below will help you craft your own unique mindset, so get to it and get those good vibes flowing!
1.) Keep a Journal
This journal will be your space for everything fantastic… you should be able to open to any page and see something that makes you smile. Start a list of all your blessings. Keep track of funny things that happen or moments that get your pulse racing from excitement. Good quotes? Put ‘em in. Pictures? Yup. Every time something good happens to you, add it. Take your journal with you as much as you can because 1.) you never know when you’re going to need a happy reminder and 2.) you also never know when something fantastic is going to happen to you. An added bonus for this one is that it trains you to be on the lookout for wonderful happenings constantly. Tip: You can also keep a digital journal via apps like Journey or Day One.
2.) Music is Major
If you were a melodramatic teenager like me, you’d hear a super moving song and immediately add it to the soundtrack of your life. Like, I’m walking down the stairs ready for prom, cue “Crazy for this Girl” as I coyly tuck my hair behind my ear. Or my crush sees me outside of school during summer break; you’d better believe “Candy” by Mandy Moore is on *loud.* Now, I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with doing this as an adult! Actually, it’s fantastic. Gather tracks that remind you of good times, get your heart rate up, inspire you or just plain sound legit. These are going to be songs that you’d play during your desired(?) highlights, e.g. just nailed the interview and got the job or are finishing your marathon in the top 10%. Make a playlist—or even a few—and cycle through all your music when you’re getting ready in the morning, when you’re feeling down, when you’re in the car… you get the picture.
3.) Surround Yourself with Positive People
These are the people that build you up. They don’t spend their time finding flaws in others because they’re too busy on a continuous path of personal betterment. They’re honest with you, but also caring in their honesty. They push you to be better. And friend, it’s okay to remove toxic relationships from your life. There’s a huge difference between supporting someone because they need you (but being able to step away), and drowning in the consequences of their bad decisions and negativity because you are trying with all you have to keep them afloat. When this happens, it’s okay to move on. Because you’re only going to truly help others if you are balanced. The kind of energy you draw in is also the kind you put out. If you’re fostering deep relationships with solid, stable, and optimistic people, chances are you’re reflecting those characteristics, too.
4.) Uplift Others
This goes along with #3 up there. Don’t waste your time looking for stuff that’s wrong with other people–this crushes positivity, and while it might quell your insecurities for a little while, the long-term effects are no bueno. Instead, seek out the good in others, even if it’s pretty hard to find. When you want to judge someone—because let’s be real, judging is human nature; even the best people can’t stop it—work on your mindset shift. If you’re about to criticize without construction, find something better about them to focus your thoughts on. Turn “This presentation is horrific,” into, “His good eye contact is something I can learn from!” Extra tip: Heyyy. Socialized introvert over here. I find that when I don’t know what to say, I start with a compliment and build on it, e.g. “Those shoes are amazing; you have a great sense of style... where do you shop?” Compliments go a long way, plus you make someone else feel good so, BONUS!
5.) Self Love
Self love, people. I cannot stress this one enough. It’s different than being conceited. Self love is seeing your worth and knowing what makes you unique in terms of contributing to positive outcomes, for yourself and for others. Get to a place where you are so confident in yourself that others’ flaws become less and less apparent to you. Soon, you’ll no longer need to put others down to feel better about yourself. You know how awesome you are without making anyone else seem insignificant in any area. One thing I realized is that the harsh light I saw others in was actually the harsh way in which I viewed myself. And then the more I loved myself, the less I judged others. It helps when you have people who build you up (#3 again!) but if you’re having trouble getting there on your own, make a list (in your positivity journal!) of traits you love about yourself, things you’ve accomplished, and stuff you’re proud of yourself for. When you want to return to something bad, reference the heck out of this list! It takes practice to maintain, but you can do it.
6.) Say Thank You and Say it Often
Be thankful. I mean from the bottom-of-your-heart, sincerely, humbly thankful. For the big things, for the small things, for every moment you can feel anything. Look people in the eye and tell them when you are, always, because thankfulness opens doors to much deeper stories, whether you hear about them or not. That waitress who brought you your drink might be juggling three jobs to support her children. Your spouse might be working late so that your family can have a comfortable lifestyle. You’d be surprised at how much simple words of recognition can encourage, repair and educate. Living with an appreciative perspective evokes appreciation in others, to start the dominoes of goodness. And personal thankfulness symbolizes all the blessings in your life because let me tell you, if you’re reading this now, and you’re breathing, and thinking, you are fortunate, my friend.
7.) It’s Okay to Get Down About the “Bad” (Just Don’t Stay There)
Part of positivity is learning to overcome the hard stuff. Positive, optimistic people still have bad things happen to them, but the difference is the attitude they take about the situation. It’s okay to allow yourself to feel bad, sad, mad (any other “-ad” words?). Feel it. Cry it out. Vent about it to someone you trust, and then turn the page. Because turning the page doesn’t mean you’re forgetting about what happened; it’s still a part of your story. It’s just that the subsequent chapter can be about how you overcame your obstacle. In your book of life, you get to choose which parts you reread, and which the parts you know are critical to the plot but not necessary to revisit. Have you checked out the description to Soul Survivor? It mentions the wisdom of opposites. You need to have the bad stuff to know how good, “good” really is. And give more weight to the “good,” because it’s pretty darn powerful when you do.
8.) The Key is in the Little Things
Learn to recognize them…and then whether you should let them go or really, really treasure them. See, there are two “types” of little things. There are the ones that take up way too much of your time without offering [much of a] positive outcome—silly arguments, a continuously-perfect looking house, something someone said about you, more more more. These little things drain valuable mental energy, and they can even become big things when you fixate on them and get tunnel vision, until suddenly it’s all you’re thinking about. *BREATHE.* The faster you learn to recognize them, the faster you can let them go. Which makes room for the “treasured” little things. Like how cute your dog looks when you say the word “food.” The butterflies you get when your soul mate grabs your hand. The way sunlight sparkles on the water in late afternoon. Uncontrollable laughter about something you may never remember but dang, was it funny in that moment... It’s hard to explain why these things bring so much satisfaction, but they do. Make room for them. Learn to find the beauty in simplicity. These little, satisfying things are happening every moment, every day, all around you if you only look.
And, that, friend, is how you can begin your positivity journey immediately. Like I said, it looks different for everyone. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some work, and be very encouraged when it starts to work! If you’ve ever felt even a tinge happiness, this is a perspective you’re capable of mastering. Keep track of your journey and what works for you; we’d love to hear about how it goes! And remember, positivity is one thing that no matter what, you can control. Now, do good!