Okay, we all know people who walk around saying the glass is half empty. The doom and gloom type, those who find it difficult to find a glimpse of sunshine in their day. Life happens, and life is hard, trust me, I understand. But imagine the power of switching those inner thoughts and feelings around to something that puts a smile on your face.
Stop for a minute.
In this very moment, as you read these words, what are you thinking about?
Put that thought aside and focus on your lips. Keep your mouth closed, lips relaxed, and breath consistent. Now, think of a time, place, person, smell, taste, sound, thought that has brought joy to your life. Focus on that thought. As you concentrate further on this memory stretch your mouth into a smile. Make it a bigger smile.
How do you feel?
Increasing our positive emotions little by little isn’t always an easy and natural experience. In fact, it can be quite difficult at times. But, there are countless things you can start incorporating in your life to improve your state of mind.
What You Can Do to Increase Positivity:
- Watch a funny movie and laugh
- Write down 5 good things that happened to you today
- Engage in an activity or hobby that brings you joy
- Have fun and talk with friends
- Read an inspiring book
- Play board games instead of watching television
- Start practicing meditation
- Doing random acts of kindness
- Count your blessings
Do what you can today to start experiencing more positive emotions. Even a mediocre increase can be helpful in the long-run. Litlle by little, and you’ll eventually get to the point where choosing to positively affirm is not hard anymore. Even opposite, it will become a natural flow of thoughts, something you don’t even think about. It just needs a little effort every day. Start today.
The search for happiness is the greatest search of all. Numerous philosophers, artists, poets, writers, and creatives tried to answer the greatest question of them all: “What is happiness and how to achieve it?”. We all want to be happy; everything we do in life is directed to that one goal: achieving happiness. But is there a happiness formula that, if you follow it, you’ll finally get to your goal? Well… yes and no.
Seligman’s Happiness Formula
Seligman came up with the idea that happiness is the sum of someone’s genetic capacities, voluntary control, and their circumstances. He emphasizes that person’s circumstances don’t have a significant impact on their happiness. This means that, although it often looks like that we’ll be happier with the new car or more money, it actually doesn’t have a high impact on our happiness in the long run. Seligman doesn’t say this out of the blue: research constantly shows that people have a “baseline of happiness” that stays the same no matter the life circumstances. But does this mean that we cannot have an impact on our happiness? Not exactly. Seligman says that voluntary control over our happiness has the most powerful effect on it. In other words, we can “learn” to be happier.
To achieve greater happiness, positive-psychology advocates “learnt optimism” exercises, such as sitting down each evening and listing things that went well that day; learning to feel grateful for what we have; and practicing random acts of kindness. Seligman also points out that lasting happiness has nothing to do with the hedonistic pleasures – shopping and partying – and more to do with solid values: a sense of community and meaningful work.
On the other hand, there is no specified set of rules that you can follow, as we’re all different. However, these are some ways that can help you be more satisfied and happy with your life.
Do you see a cup half full or half empty? This question can seem trivial, but it actually can tell a lot about the way you see circumstances in life and, possibly, the way you feel most of the time. Research shows that people who see a cup as half full, a.k.a optimists, tend to have higher levels of happiness, perseverance, achievement, and health (Peterson, 2000, p. 47) compared to pessimists. Additionally, there is evidence that optimistic people are more likely to take proactive steps when it comes to their health, while pessimism is somewhat related to health-damaging behaviors. Accordingly, positive attitude is related to higher levels of physical and mental health, increased life expectancy, success at the workplace and better coping strategies.
Although pessimists would say that optimism is the same as denial and oversimplification, and having a positive attitude is dangerous because these individuals will end up disappointed and hurt. However, research has strong evidence against those statements. As a matter of fact, the behavioral patterns of optimists appear to provide models of living for others to learn from. After all, increased life expectancy and health, as well as being successful and happy and making people around us feel the same way is what really matters in the end.
So, if having a positive attitude is so beneficial for happiness, can we somehow incorporate it into our lives? The answer is YES, you definitely can.
Learning Positive Attitude
Becoming optimistic and training yourself to look at the bright side takes work and discipline. If you tend to see things negatively, it will take some time to make optimism a thinking habit. But once you do, you’ll definitely notice the change in the way you feel and act. So, what should you do?
Notice Your Negative Thinking Patterns
Listen to your words and your thoughts. The longer you listen, the more you’ll recognize negative assumptions and conclusions. Catch yourself doing that and try to challenge those negative thoughts. Do you have enough evidence to support those statements? Where you drew that pessimistic conclusion from? Try replacing these negative beliefs with positive, or at least neutral ones.
Give Yourself and Others a Positive Feedback
Give compliments. For some, it’s easier to blame others than to support them, but give it a try. Even if someone has done something poorly, recognize the effort and find something they’ve done well. This applies to you as well. When you accomplish something, maybe you have a tendency to tell yourself something like “oh, that’s nothing special” or “I was just lucky” or “everyone could do it”. This usually happens because you’re afraid that, if you take responsibility for your strengths and good actions, you’ll disappoint others the next time you fail. But this is false; taking a positive feedback is not dangerous, nor is rejecting it the warranty of protection of disappointment. Recognize your irrational beliefs and work on overcoming them.
Give thanks for small things in your life. It’s easy to get swallowed by difficulties of everyday life and forget about everything that make out life easier. But remembering to be grateful will eventually make you happy with what you have instead of being unhappy for what you don’t. Keeping a gratitude journal can be really beneficial, especially in the beginning of your practice.
Becoming optimistic can be really difficult and even feel fake in the beginning, but as time passes by, you’ll get better and better at this. If you’re persistent, you’ll just catch yourself one day naturally implementing positive attitude in your thinking pattern. So hang in there.