The Challenge: Having a negative attitude keeps us from being happy and impacts the people we interact with.
The Science: Science tells us that having a positive attitude has a direct connection with happiness and success.
The Solution: Make positivity a habit by making these small adjustments to your daily life and mindset!
Our life is a reflection of our attitude. Without even noticing it, it can be easy to become negative and cynical towards the world as we are continuously exposed to tragedy and injustice in the media and as we experience our own heartache and distress.
Not only is a negative attitude preventing you from fully enjoying your life, it can have a significant impact on your environment. The energy a person brings with them is contagious. One of the best things you can offer your family, organization or community is your positive attitude.
In the wise words of Michael Jackson, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.” As creatures of habit, by making small adjustments to your daily life and mindset, positive habits can be formed to make yourself and everyone you interact with happier. Here is a list of 10 habits that can turn a gloomy outlook into an effortlessly optimistic attitude.
1. Keep a gratitude journal.
Sometimes one single event can ruin an entire day and an unpleasant interaction or experience at night can overshadow the enjoyable parts of our day. With this awareness that our mind tends to cling to the negative, we can intentionally focus on the good parts of our day to offset this imbalance. Try writing down 5 things that you feel grateful for every day and see how your attitude changes. Science has found that gratitude can significantly increase your happiness, and protect you from stress, negativity, anxiety and depression. Check out this list of 13 ways gratitude will significantly improve your life.
2. Reframe your challenges.
There are no dead ends, only re-directions. Although we might try, there are very few things in life that we have complete control over. We should not let uncontrollable occurrences from the outside turn our inner to mush. What we can control is the effort that we put in and when we give our full effort, there is no reason for regret. Have fun with challenges, embrace them as adventures instead of attempting to resist an experience for growth. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.” – Robert Kiyosaki
3. Get good at being rejected.
Rejection is a skill. Chalk every broken heart and failed job interview as practice because no one gets to slide through life without being rejected. Don’t let it harden you and don’t expect the worse. If you wait for bad things to happen, chances are it will or you’ll narrow in on the bad in the midst of the many good things you’ve missed along the way. When there are cracks in your heart, they let the sun in.
4. Use positive words to describe your life.
The words that we use have a lot more power than we think. How you talk about your life is how your life will be. Your mind hears what you say. If you describe your life as boring, busy, mundane, chaotic, that is how you will perceive it and you will feel the effects in your body and mind. If you use the words simple, involved, familiar or lively, you will see your life in a whole different light and find more enjoyment in the way you chose to shape your life.
A study from US data suggests that having a positive attitude not only has a direct effect on your happiness, it is also correlated with your earning wage.
5. Replace have with get.
Do you ever notice how many times we say that we have to do something? I have to go to work. I have to go grocery shopping. I have to pay my rent. Now change this one little word to get and see what happens. I get to go to work. I get to go grocery shopping. Even, I get to pay my rent. Your attitude quickly changes from needing to fulfill obligations to being grateful for the things that we become accustomed to having: a job to support you and your family, food on the table, and a roof over your head. Try to make this change when you are thinking to yourself and you may feel and appear happier and less stressed.
6. Don’t let yourself get dragged into other people’s complaints.
Your day was going pretty well and then you get to work and your co-worker can’t stop complaining about the cold weather. You didn’t really think about it before he/she brought it up and now you find yourself agreeing and joining in on the complaint-fest of how sick you are of this cold weather. In a month you’ll be pulled into complaints about how it’s too hot. Don’t fall into the trap. A study done at the Warsaw School of Social Psychology shows that complaining leads to lower moods and negative emotions, decreased life satisfaction and optimism, and emotional and motivational deficits. You might find that your co-worker will complain less without the validation of someone else having the same complaint.
Our breath is directly connected to our emotions. Have you noticed we hold our breath sometimes when we are concentrating on something? Can you feel your breath change when you are angry or anxious? Our breath changes depending on how we feel. The great news is that the connection goes the other way too. We can also change how we feel using our breath! Check out this infographic on the scientific benefits of breathing.
8. Notice the righteous in times of tragedy.
It’s hard to have hope and stay positive when hate and violence are all over the media. What we don’t see as much is that in every instance of natural disaster, war, or traumatic experience, you will find people rising up, reaching out to each other and showing raw compassion and love. Hold onto the stories of modern-day heroes and selflessness in times of fear and devastation.
9. Have solutions when pointing out problems.
Being positive doesn’t mean that you have to be oblivious to problems. Positive people have constructive criticisms to improve conditions. If you are going to point out problems in people or situations, place just as much effort into suggesting solutions. Instead of pointing out all of the things that are wrong, offer ways to make it better.
10. Make someone else smile.
Who do you think about most of the time? If we answered honestly, most of us would say themselves. It’s good to hold ourselves accountable, and take responsibility for our life roles, hygiene, food, etc. but set a goal for each day to make someone else smile. Think about someone else’s happiness and it will help us to realize the immense impact that our attitude and expression have on the people around us.
Megan received her Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Counseling from the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, with the hope of being a School Counselor, Wilderness Therapist, Wellness Director or some combination of the three. She finds life balance through breathing, yoga, and meditation, and is actively involved in the Art of Living community to spread the sense of connection and peace. Megan loves to incorporate sarcastic humor and movie quotes into daily conversations, but more often will engage in deep discussions about life, philosophy and spirituality. Although she has strong opinions on various topics, she appreciates being exposed to different perspectives to continuously grow and evolve her opinions. After having her first article published in the Washington Post, she thought to herself, “Hmm, maybe I do have something to say…” and has since been trying her hand at science journalism and blogging. She has managed to successfully balance her life of work, school, and daily showers with frequent stints as a dirty backpacker. As a globe trotter and a program leader for the non-profit Operation Groundswell, she proudly identifies as a backpacktivist and seeks to promote responsible travel and authentic, self-critical, ethically-oriented service abroad. She is currently taking her thirst for travel full time and embarking on a cycling adventure across the length of the American continents, from Alaska all the way to the southernmost tip of Argentina! Follow her journey at www.bikelivingtheamericas.com or via facebook, Instagram or twitter.