“Adopting a really positive attitude can work wonders to adding years to your life, a spring to your step, a sparkle to your eye, and all of that”
– Christie Brinkley
Have you noticed how easy it is to focus in on everything negative? Exaggerating them and ignoring positive aspects of yourself, your circumstances, and the world?
This style of thinking has a significant, negative impact on your mood and self-esteem: it contributes to feelings of hopelessness, overwhelm and frustration. You may be so tuned in to everything that is wrong, it begins to feel like you are a victim and nothing ever goes your way.
If I was to ask you right now to write out a list of ten positive qualities about yourself or your life, would you do it?
This is an exercise I regularly ask my client’s to do. The results are a mixed bag, but mostly, people don’t get past five.
Many people, particularly those with low self-esteem, struggle to think up anything positive; others feel embarrassed to list them. There is certainly a misconception that identifying qualities about yourself is arrogant, or to list positives about the world is unrealistic.
Neither is true. This is not about creating a perfect picture. It is about adopting a balanced view. This is necessary, because you deserve to be happy; and that is not easy to achieve when you filter out every single positive thing. It is reasonable to identify good things about yourself and live your life with optimism and hope.
I mean, what’s the alternative? To live in a state of sadness and “what’s the point?” attitude?
Believe it or not, there are ways to influence your mind-set to be more positive. I know it sounds simple and I make it sound easy, but with some discipline; you really can make a difference.
I hear the counter argument; “life isn’t always positive”, “you only face disappointment when you expect good things”.
Life is tough. It’s even tougher when you refuse to dig deep and find the good.
I know, some people are generally more positive and optimistic, it’s easy to wish you could be the same. It’s just not the way it is for a lot of people. Somewhere along the line you picked up the habit of paying attention to the negatives. Sadly, you don’t just decide today to be more positive and then it happens. You have to work at it.
I have to work at it. It’s so worth it. Thankfully, I have reached a stage where my automatic reaction is not always negative. Of course, that is not always the case.
Like I said, shifting your mind-set to start recognising positives requires you to take action. It does get easier, but the early days, whilst you are making change, will require your attention, commitment and efforts.
There are two key ways to shift your mind-set and moods: one is to reduce your negative thinking, the other is to increase your awareness of the positives in your world. Today, I am giving you techniques for the latter.
Here are three techniques that help me, my client’s and my course attendees:
It is hard to come by happiness research these days without gratitude being mentioned. That’s because it works.
There is compelling research to show, identifying things you appreciate and are grateful for improves your happiness and wellbeing.
This is a tool you can start using today… right now. It’s 100% free. It can take five minutes. You deserve to give yourself five minutes.
Many client’s come back to me and tell me they tried this for a couple of days. They might give up if they do not see immediate results or because it was a really hard day. Honestly? Those are the days I want you to push yourself really hard. Dig really, really deep. Keep going.
It doesn’t matter if they are repetitive; use ones that spring to your mind. When I am having a tough day, I call on my consistent ones (nieces and nephews are always top of the list ;)).
If you are new to this, I encourage you to record three things each day you appreciate, enjoyed or liked about your day. When this begins to become a habit, and you start to have a more positive outlook; you will notice good things as they occur, then you can begin to consider how best to practice your appreciation & gratitude. Some people record it daily, once a week, every other day. Whatever works for you.
It isn’t a natural thing that we identify what we like about ourselves or what our qualities are. In fact, most people cringe at the very thought of it.
I’m not saying you have to show this to anyone or shout it from the rooftops, although; brownie points if you do 😉
Take the time to reflect on yourself as a person. List at least 10 good qualities you have.
Not only will this task assist you in noticing nice things about yourself, it is also a way of you getting to know yourself better; this is a bonus for your self-esteem.
If you notice qualities you would like to have or develop, that’s OK. Take note, you can work on those too, we all have room for growth.
This is really great for when you have a moment of being hard on yourself and telling yourself how crap you are; you get to have this list in the back of your mind, reminding you your inner critic is not telling the truth.
Have this list close by to you, remind yourself of these qualities as often as you can, be proud of them.
If you really do struggle with this and you find it near impossible to complete, it’s OK. Lots of people experience the same. Give yourself time to complete it, write it down as you go. If you offer a colleague a hot drink or wish them luck for their big presentation, you can notice that and add ‘thoughtful’ to the list.
What qualities do you think your friends and family would give you? You can always ask people around you. Tell them what you are doing and get some feedback.
Set-backs and falls are to be expected. Life doesn’t always go your way or anyone else’s way. When life doesn’t go how you wish, you are allowed to feel disappointment and sadness. Limit how long you dwell on that for, you don’t want it to spiral.
As soon as you notice your disappointment and feel ready to pick yourself up; learn from it.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is look at this as some kind of lesson and decide to take something positive from it. People have done this in the face of trauma. It is not easy, it does not take away pain, but it does help you to let go and see the light.
Ask yourself: what has this taught you? What will you learn from it? What will you do different next time? How are you going to make this worth it? For best results, write it down.
These techniques are proven strategies to help people improve mood, experience happiness and relieve anxiety.
Some of you will experience immediate effects, and some of you may need to give it weeks. Trust in the process.
Give them a really good go. For weeks. Not minutes, not hours, not days. These are a lifestyle change.
These techniques are not asking you to ignore negatives, not at all. It is simply a way to highlight to you it is not all as bad as you have managed to convince yourself.
When you are experiencing happier moods and kinder thoughts, you will be better equipped to cope when things do go wrong.
Even when you get to the point of experiencing automatic positive thoughts, it is still normal that you will experience negative thoughts and moods. Do not be put off when this happens; it doesn’t mean it is all pointless and indicate you may as well give up. It just means you are normal; experiencing different moods and intensities is part of life.
If there are days where digging deep isn’t working for you, don’t force it. Do the exercises anyway, it is likely it will make even a slight difference, but take it easy on yourself. Remind yourself this will pass. You have learned it is not all bad, you have a balanced view, this is just a hard day.
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Carly Ann xx