Dealing with difficult times—whether it’s an illness, the loss of someone you love, working at a job you hate, or any number of situations—can be tough. We all have days where it feels like life has successfully conquered us. That’s a part of life.
But did you know that by making simple changes to your attitude, you can greatly improve your outlook on life, no matter the circumstance? It may seem easier than it sounds, but in reality, there are a plethora of ways you can brighten your day without lifting a finger.
Like many others, I have struggled with only seeing the glass half empty in life. In nearly every situation, my mind could only think of the worst case scenario, which (of course) never worked out in my favor. I began to realize how much of an impact that kind of thinking had on my physical and mental health. Thinking negatively dropped my energy levels, raised my stress levels, made me sleep terribly and feel sluggish. Life is short—so why was I constantly adding all that extra stress I didn’t need?
I did some research on stress-relieving techniques and found a ton of articles on positive thinking and the power of living in the present. It’s an interesting concept to me, because I’ve always been concerned about changing the past or worrying about what will happen in the future—two things completely outside of my control—but I was never able to appreciate the “now.” And it made sense—the present moment is the only thing any of us have any control over. I decided I’d give it a try.
I researched small ways to make a positive impact on my thinking and told myself that it would take time to condition my mind. However, by working to become more present moment by moment, day by day, I have come one step closer to achieving internal enlightenment. Or, put in laymen’s terms, I feel pretty happy. Since I’ve begun changing my thinking, my outlook on life has changed greatly. Sometimes, just taking a few deep breaths is enough to calm my mind and remember where and who I am right now.
Here are a few of the actionable steps I’ve learned that you can use to incorporate more positivity and presence in your every day:
1. Stop and smells the roses.
Taking a few moments out of your day to appreciate your surroundings can greatly impact your thinking and behavior. This will especially come in handy if you’re in a stressful situation and need to pause. I find that sitting upright in a chair with my feet planted on the floor and taking a few deep breaths is the key to a mental recharge. Try it!
2. Don’t let your mind define who you are.
Our minds are powerful tools. Often, we don’t realize how much power our minds have over our bodies and we forget that we have the power to change our thoughts and change our actions. Understand that just because you have negative thoughts, doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. When you notice negative thinking, remind yourself that these are just thoughts, and they have no control over your feelings or your actions.
3. Make small goals.
Try setting a few small goals that you absolutely know you can accomplish. This will train your mind to realize that it’s okay to start small and work your way up—and it will give you a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to reach the goals you’ve set! For example, if you’re planning on running a half-marathon but haven’t put on your running shoes in months, set small, measurable goals (e.g., setting workout clothes beside your bed, going for a walk around the block) for yourself that will allow you to build stamina slowly.
4. Affirm yourself.
Sometimes, just telling yourself you can do something or giving yourself a simple compliment can easily brighten your day. Write down a few self-affirmations to tell yourself at the end of each day as reminders that you’re a uniquely special person. Here are a few examples (and the ones I enjoy most):
- I am happy and safe.
- Don’t panic, everything will be okay.
- I am courageous.
- Follow your intuition.
- I believe in myself.
Whether you are a naturally negative thinker or just want to work on living more in the “now”, take some time to think about small changes you can make to your life and to your thinking to achieve personal growth and general happiness. I hope you find these tips as helpful to you as they have been to me.
Photo: Morgan Sessions / Unsplash