Half-full or half-empty?
How you view what’s is in your glass can dictate how you live your life.
A life of positivity and of seeing the silver lining in every cloud is far more enjoyable than one spent on worry, gloominess, and negativity.
If you routinely take a glass-half-empty view of the world and want to be purposeful about creating a more positive view and a more positive lifestyle, these five ideas can help.
They were chosen because of their ability to create temporary changes that can become easily habit-forming and make a permanent impact on your outlook in life.
1. The positive psychology of affirmations
If you have ever seen the movie, The Help, you probably remember the positive affirmations the character of Abilene gave the children in her care — You is smart. You is kind, You is important.
Even in their toddler years, she used these positive affirmations to instil a sense of self-worth in “her” children to carry with them throughout their lives. Sadly, many of us did not have these types of affirmations as children and do not regularly practice them as adults.
“Generally speaking, affirmations are used to reprogram the subconscious mind, to encourage us to believe certain things about ourselves or about the world and our place within it,” writes Kathryn Lively, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College and co-author of Selves, Symbols, and Social Reality.
The good thing about positive affirmations is that they can be easily learned. Positive affirmations can range from “I am good enough just like I am” to “I believe in myself” to “I work hard to see the best in others”.
Because words have such intrinsic power, bolstering your self-esteem with positive words can help start your day right.
Because each of us is usually our own worst critic, positive words on a regular basis can gradually retrain your brain to see the best, not the perceived worse in yourself.
2. Bullet journaling is a great tool to increase your happiness and positivity
Journaling can help you organize your thoughts and sort through your emotions. It can also help you look back and reflect on past experiences which can help you realize two important things.
First, that you were able to overcome negative events, and secondly, that you probably have more to be thankful for than you remember.
Faster and more efficient than traditional journaling, keeping a bullet journal allows you to focus, write in short bursts, keep lists, and track your personal progress and goals.
If you want to really reprogram your mind with frequent reminders, use your bullet journal to keep lists of your personal and professional accomplishments and inspiring words of wisdom.
You can also treat your bullet journal as a personal gratitude journal because reminding yourself of the good people, places, and things in your life can be unbelievably inspiring.
Here’s how you can practice gratitude journaling: every day, at the end of your day, write about 3 things — no matter how small — that went well for you and why they went well.
3. Train your mind to be more optimistic
Optimism does not mean you are not aware that things can go wrong or have a negative outcome. What it does mean is that you have a hope and belief that things, situations, and events are likely to have a positive one.
Renowned author and speaker Brené Brown talks about the tendency some people have to “dress-rehearse tragedy”.
In other words, instead of constant worry about how the economy will affect your job, you put your best foot forward every day, do your best work, and start developing self-controlled streams of income.
Positive affirmations and your gratitude journal can help you retrain your brain to recognise and appreciate the good things in life.
You can start practicing optimism by refusing to dwell on the negative, by reminding yourself that rainy days lead always give way to sunshine and beautiful flowers, and by surrounding yourself with positive people.
It can also mean removing negative language from your speech patterns and using positive words to build up and encourage yourself and the people around you.
“Optimists see failure as a chance to learn. They consider the changeable aspects of a disappointment that can be addressed and adjusted to make failure less likely next time. Pessimists, by contrast, will tend to blame the failure on a fundamental cause that can’t be changed, such as the belief that they don’t have what it takes,” says Dr Christian Jarrett, a psychologist turned writer, and senior editor at Aeon.
4. To minimise stress, set your own boundaries
“Live your life for you not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from being yourself”, says author Sonya Parker.
To live life to the fullest, protect your time like a valuable investment.
Set better boundaries and you’ll have a whole bunch of extra time to work on your life goals, to relax and de-stress yourself, to spend time with family and friends, to read, to improve yourself, to work on a passion project, to exercise. It’ll be one of the most important things you do.
Saying yes to things you do not want to do, invitations you do not want to accept, and people you do not want to spend time with is a sure path to resentment and unhappiness.
Learning to say no when the situation warrants it can actually lead to greater happiness for you and for the person or activity you are saying no to.
Think about it this way, no one wants to have a party or other event ruined by packing it with people who do not want to be there, do they?
Also, when you ask someone to do something and they do it in a resentful, annoyed manner, do you enjoy their attitude or enjoy it when they repeatedly laud their ‘yes’ over your head? Of course not. You can take the pressure off yourself and others with a fast, firm, heartfelt no versus an annoyed yes.
5. Life goes on so choose wisely
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely,” says Roy T. Bennett.
To experience more positive emotions, start making wise choices, not just for your present self but for your future self.
From the work you do to the words you speak to the way you feed your heart, mind, and body to the company you keep, your choices are what makes a major difference in the outcome of your days and of your entire life.
Just like your dietary choices make a difference in your health and weight, the other choices you make on a daily basis influence the way your life turns out and your overall emotional state.
Choose to be around people that make you want to become a better version of yourself— who make you feel good, make you laugh, and remind you of the important things in life that make us happy.
You cannot please all the people all the time — no one can — but you can usually make choices that please you and enable you to live a life you enjoy.
A positive spiral life is achievable. Every day, you’ve got lots of opportunities to remodel your own brain to experience more positive emotions.
You can start with one habit at a time and adopt others as you make progress. A few daily habits could be your solution to a more positive life. Learning to be open to positive feelings can change your perspective about life and living it.
This article first appeared on Medium.