I have never been a naturally positive person. I used to always fall on the “half empty” side of the age old argument about what exactly is in the glass.
This natural inclination towards pessimism has made several things in my life – from school and work, to dating and particularly achieving my health and fitness goals – much, much more difficult than they naturally are. So I decided to do something about it. Changing the way you think and developing a more positive mentality is not easy, but the rewards that come from holding everything in your life in a more positive regard are endless! Being a happier person has truly made every aspect of my life much easier and more enjoyable.
One of the most important factors in changing your outlook is realizing that happiness is a choice. Think of a situation in which you always take a negative outlook. Why do you feel negatively about it? Chances are, you’re blaming your mood on a myriad of other things…like your parents, upbringing, relationships, fate, the list of scapegoats is endless. At the end of the day, however, YOU are the only person in control of your happiness.
OK. So you’ve decided to be happy, but you don’t feel any different. When does all the magic happen?
Well, it does take some work.
Like all habits, adjusting your mentality takes a little practice and some time.
Start by just looking for the ways things could be good. So you didn’t get that promotion. Bummer. But how does not having to adjust your work schedule, move offices, or take on more stress and responsibility help you? Does it instead give you a little more time to really get the most out of your current position? Does it allow you to continue your current exercise routine uninterrupted? Does it give you a little more leeway to take time off for that vacation you’ve been thinking about? Or perhaps, you can just ask yourself, “What did I learn from this?” Are you now more aware of your weaknesses? Did it help you to overcome your interview anxiety? Just look for the good, and acknowledge that it’s there. Don’t get me wrong, you have every right to be upset about not getting that promotion, but just learn to recognize that maybe, just maybe there might be something good that could come from it.
Once you’re in the habit of acknowledging the good, you can start doing something about it. Whenever you feel yourself start to focus on the negative, redirect your thought to the good. You have no control over what happened in the past, and you cannot change it. But you can choose to spend more of your energy thinking about the positive benefits than the negative ones. You may not be able to control the situation around you, but you can certainly control how you handle it.
Being more positive takes patience and practice. Start every morning by saying something out loud that’s good about yourself. Tell yourself you’re a great parent. Remind yourself that you’re a loyal friend. You’ve got really graceful fingers. You make the best tortellini alfredo this side of Little Italy. The more often you remind yourself of the positive things in your life, the more often you force yourself to focus on them, the easier and more natural it will be to focus on the positives in the other aspects of your life. It’s going to be hard, I know. But give it time. Nothing good ever came from focusing on just exactly how big your thighs are, or how unattainable your career goals are. Trust me, I know.
Lastly, take a long, hard look at your environment. Are the people you spend your time with negative? Do they just bring you down? Do they spend most of their time complaining, criticizing, or being full of self-pity? If the answer is yes, it may be time to reevaluate your social circle. This is the most difficult part of changing your mindset, but simultaneously the most crucial. Cutting people out of your life is never easy, but breaking away from the cycle of negative self talk and negative mental energy is impossible when you're surrounded by people who are perfectly content to be Negative Nancys. Instead, seek out the company of people who embody the habits and mindset you seek to develop yourself. Being around them will make your efforts to change so much easier!
The difference between your glass being half full and your glass being half empty is simply the way you choose to look at it. It really is a choice, and it's one you can make today. Give it a shot. You won’t regret it. I promise.