Life can be tough. Sometimes there will be difficult days, horrible weeks and even gruelling months. It’s easy to feel dragged down by these hard times and to feel trapped and overwhelmed. However, often we just need to change the way we approach these tough times.
When things seem to be going wrong, we naturally fall into negative thought patterns. Our internal dialogue becomes filled with: “Bad things always happen to me”, “Oh, that’s all I need”, “I’m so stressed”. What happens then is that we start to view everything in a negative light – through half-filled glasses (if you will).
When we start falling into this negative spiral of thoughts it can be really hard to escape, and in the long run it can be really damaging to our mental health.
What we need to do is change the way we think about “problems” and help ourselves to live a more positive life.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill
Before we go on, I just want to make a couple of things clear: it’s completely okay to have problems and not to constantly live a “perfect life”. Nobody’s life is perfect. Also, we need to have the bad moments in order for the good ones to feel so great. It’s just if you approach life in a positive way and know that things generally get better, it will make a big difference to the way you feel.
As someone who sometimes struggles with pessimistic thoughts, particularly when I’m feeling stressed and anxious, I can tell you first hand that this stuff can be tricky. So here are seven tips I use to live a more positive life.
Music is really powerful. Different songs can make you feel happy, sad, energetic or relaxed, all depending on the style. According to Psychology Today, the right music can enhance mood, lower stress and anxiety levels, and help relieve insomnia. Furthermore, in an analysis of 400 studies, psychologist Daniel J. Levitin found that music even had a positive effect on the body’s immune system.
Want to start the day off in a more positive way? Make a playlist with your favourite songs and put it on while you’re getting ready in the morning, or on your way to work, and feel the benefits. Want to up the positive vibes…Have a little dance, get moving. You might feel a bit silly at first but it’s worth it for the giggles!
Smiling is a universal form of communication and, according to Forbes, is “evolutionarily contagious”. If we see someone smiling, it makes us want to smile too – and makes us feel happier. In fact, scientists as far back as Charles Darwin have been studying the effects of smiling on mental wellbeing. The act of smiling itself makes us feel more positive – rather than it being a product of happiness. In fact, a study carried out by Hewlett Packard (the computer company) showed that people shown a picture of a child smiling, experienced the same rush of happiness chemicals as eating 2,000 chocolate bars!
Why not write yourself a note and stick it on the mirror in the bathroom, reminding yourself to smile. Even if you don’t feel like it, try smiling. Just the act of working the facial muscles will make you feel more positive. Plus, since a smile is contagious, you’ll spread it to other people around you and make them feel happier too.
I know, I know, I bang on about this one all the time but it’s for a very good reason! There’s loads of science that backs up the fact that the more you express thanks for things, the happier you will feel. If you really want a more positive life, you need to start appreciating everything around you.
When you’re on your way to work, rather than feel angry at the traffic, or grumpy at the slow-walkers, turn it on its head. Feel grateful for that moment in the car when you can listen to some music. Since you’re having to walk slower, enjoy it – notice the new blossom, or the way the rain bounces off the puddles. Appreciate the little things that make up your life – there’s a positive side to most things.
When we get stuck in a negative rut it can be easy – and in a strange way pleasing – to keep going over and over the same angry thoughts. The problem is when this stops you from moving forward and onto new things.
What is the cause of negativity? What do you need to do to live a more positive life? Make a plan of action and do something about your situation. Set yourself an achievable goal – like writing in your gratitude journal everyday – and make yourself accomplish it. Ticking things off and feeling like we’re achieving things has a powerful effect on motivation and positivity, and will help you escape the negative spiral.
Which leads nicely to…
Challenge Negative Thoughts
As I’ve mentioned before, negative thought patterns have a detrimental effect on our mental health. Living a more positive life is about changing your mindset – and that means creating a habit.
Whenever you think a negative thought, try to challenge it with a positive. For example, “Oh god, it’s raining. Again” could be challenged with – “Well, that means I’ve got an excuse to snuggle on the sofa and read a book”. Or, “Well, rain is good for plants and trees, so soon I’ll get to see the beautiful blossom”. If you’re struggling through a particularly anxious time, try to view it as your body signalling that something isn’t right. Use it as a chance to reflect on how you are treating your mind and body, and make some changes.
Stop Comparing Yourself
And last – but definitely not least – stop comparing yourself to other people. This is such a hard one to do. With social media these days, everyone’s “lives” are on display and we feel constant pressure to be happy all the time, and be constantly “living our best life”.
Firstly, you are not those people. You are you. You have your unique skills, your strengths and weaknesses, your own life. Work at being the best version of you, not a cheap version of one of your friends/siblings/some girl off Instagram.
Secondly, social media isn’t real life. It’s a beautified, airbrushed, photoshopped snapshot of someone’s best bits. Which is what is should be. Unless you are one of those people who likes to air your dirty laundry or cause fights on Facebook status updates, in which case please for the love of all that is pure, stop stop stop! Social media is for having fun, sharing photos and enjoying life. If it is making you unhappy or anxious, step away. Try deleting the apps off your phone for a while. Focus on the people in your life who truly make your happy. And enjoy being you.
One of the changes you might need to make is including more exercise – particularly outdoors – into your routine.
You’ve read lots of times before, I’m sure, how great exercise is for general wellbeing, but it’s worth saying it again. A regular habit of exercise helps you to feel happier, more confident and to sleep better – all of which are vital for a more positive life.
Hate exercise and view it as another cause of stress and negativity? You need to switch up your routine. Try and find something you enjoy and it’ll make it an easier habit to stick to. And I have just the thing…
I’ve created a dance workout with a difference! It combines all the goodness of dance fitness and resistance training, with a dose of calming mindfulness to help you feel fitter, stronger and more positive. And you can get access for FREE by filling out the form below. Get signed up now and make some positive changes to your life: