Suggestions for How to Create a Positive Outlook in Your Life [Part 2]
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Life Strategies and Stress Management Coaching
This is the second in a series that I am offering on how creating a positive outlook can lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. Last week I introduced the idea of how developing a positive outlook can change your life for the better.
Just to be clear, I am not the only one who suggests that creating a positive outlook is worth cultivating if you want to be happier and healthier and more successful in life. Indeed, According to the New York Times, "There is no longer any doubt that what happens in the brain influences what happens in the body."
This week I would like to offer how to build your capacity for cultivating a positive attitude.
Of course, there are sometimes occasions when it is appropriate to feel negative about a specific situation. Losing one's job or having to say goodbye to a loved one are such occasions. Going through a divorce or experiencing the heartache of a breakup of a significant relationship are other examples. You wouldn't be normal if you didn't feel hurt and experience negative emotions during those situations.
When negativity becomes a habit or starts to impact your life negatively, however, it's time to consider making some changes. It's time to work on cultivating a positive mindset.
Here are some specific suggestions that may help you cultivate a more positive attitude:
1. Stop complaining. Complaining can too quickly become a bad habit. Constant complaining drains you of energy. It also drains the energy of those around you. Want some tips on how to stop complaining? Check out this article from Lifehack entitled, "Effectively Stop Complaining in 7 Easy Steps."
2. Express gratitude every day for your many blessings. Be thankful for the small things. Create a habit of practicing gratitude. This habit, above all others, may have the most significant positive impact on your life. Psychology Today points out that "gratitude starts with noticing the goodness in life." For specific tips on how to cultivate gratitude as a practice, check out this post from Psychology Today on gratitude.
4. Let go of the people around you who do not possess a positive outlook. Release anyone critical, or worse--abusive--of you. They drain your energy and injure your self-esteem. Instead of tolerating these individuals, surround yourself with supportive, positive people.
On this one, I know it can be hard to let go of people in your family who may be harming your self-esteem, and yes, I know that can happen. We don't all come from families that get along with one another or support one another. However, you owe it to yourself to stand up for yourself. If you can't let go of negative people in your life because they are family, at least cut back on your interactions with them and actively search out friends and associates who will support you and encourage you.
6. Meditate. Make it a daily practice. Even a 10-minute meditation first thing in the morning will help you start your day on a positive note. If you aren't convinced that meditation can make a difference in your life, check out this post entitled, "12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation" from Healthline.
7. Release any tendency to indulge in envy. The dictionary defines envy as "a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc." Envy is a negative emotion that only hurts you instead of the other person. Envy is the habit of a small person. Be happy for other people's success instead of indulging in negative emotions that envy inspires.
8. Be kind. Smile more. This post points out the "Surprising Health Benefits of Smiling." Smiling not only makes you feel better, it usually helps others, too. One of the things I don't like about having to wear a mask is that people can't see me smiling at them. But I have started trying to "smile with my eyes," because I know that wearing a mask is essential. And at the end of the day, you are the primary recipient of the good that smiling can do because it lifts your spirits.
9. Choose to be happy. Happiness is a choice. When a negative thought enters your mind, push it out quickly. Substitute a pleasant thought.
If you are skeptical that happiness is a choice, I urge you to consider the power of choice that you have in every moment. Years ago, I suffered from an episode of depression. I would say that it probably lasted for about 18 months and was caused by a broken relationship that caused quite a bit of hurt and heartbreak.
I eventually got tired of feeling bad all the time. I was ready to make a change. Two things happened at the same time. I found a book entitled Happiness is a Choice, and I ran across an ad in the newspaper for an upcoming seminar entitled something like, "Laughter is the Best Medicine: How to Start Feeling Happy Again." I read the book and enrolled in the 4-week seminar. By the end of that month, I had started to feel better again, and I started exercising my choice to be happy instead of sad and miserable. To this day, I choose happiness. And you can, too.
10. Have faith in yourself. Believe the Universe is on your side and will help you. Best-selling author, speaker, and coach, Jack Canfield offers his thoughts on how to have faith in yourself in his article entitled, "How to Believe in Yourself & Change Your Life in the Process."
Here is what he suggests:
Believe it’s possible. Believe that you can do it regardless of what anyone says or where you are in life.
Visualize it. Think about exactly what your life would look like if you had already achieved your dream.
Act as if. Always act in a way that is consistent with where you want to go.
Take action towards your goals. Do not let fear stop you, nothing happens in life until you take action.
As for movies, Hidden Figures, The Dead Poets Society, and On the Basis of Sex are just a few that come to mind.
12. Repeat inspiring and motivating affirmations. Practicing affirmations can lift your mood and it makes you feel better. I have offered that this is a great way to make for a happier life in general. It helps to ground you. If you need help finding affirmations that you might like to refer to periodically, use this list of "15 Daily Affirmations to Improve Your Mindset"
from the blog, Blissful Mind.
14. Practice visualization. Release the thoughts about what you don't want to happen and concentrate on the outcomes you do want for yourself. If you are new to the power of visualizing the success you want in your life, check out this article from Forbes.com entitled, "New To Visualization? Here Are 5 Steps To Get You Started"
by Bhali Gill.
Cultivating a positive outlook takes conscious effort, but it is worth making an effort.
Become aware of your thoughts and the attitudes of those around you. Once you are aware of the negative thoughts in your environment, you'll be able to counteract them much more easily.
If all of these practices sound like a lot of work, they really aren't. And they become easier to practice the more you engage in them as practices that eventually become habits.
Each of us has a choice regarding how we want to live our lives. We can view ourselves as victims of circumstance, or we can declare that we are the masters of our own lives, and we have control over what happens to us by virtue of the fact that we take control of our thoughts and feelings.
If it sounds too good to be true, in some ways, it is. For those who have been able to master their thoughts and ultimately their destiny, the sky has been the limit on what they could achieve. Just look at the role models we have to see it in action: Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Mike Dooley, Mary Morrissey, and they are only the names that pop into my head without thinking very hard.
Follow the examples of the people you admire and look up to as role models or mentors. Consider what makes them different. And then decide that if they can be successful and lead happy and fulfilling lives, so can you. Because it is true.
Until next time.