One of my biggest challenges when it comes to personal development is the ability to retain a mostly positive outlook on life. In the past few years, I have delved into this topic internally in the hopes of creating a happier life with more fulfillment and contentment.
In this article, I would like to share some of the strategies that have helped me along the way and continue to service a growingly more positive approach to life on the daily.
Welcome negative thoughts. Each time a negative thought arises we need not play into its downward spiral. Instead, we actually have the power to choose how we react. In essence, I have discovered that upon the arrival of one of these mental blips the best approach is to recognise it and then view it from an impartial perspective. Accept and welcome it for what it is; an unfriendly voice passing you by. Try to distance yourself from dwelling on or engaging the thought. You will soon realise they have less power over you than you once thought. I delve deeper into this concept in another article which can be found here.
Live in a positive environment. Consciously surround yourself with positive people and experiences. Do work that you are passionate about, take up a hobby that gives you time away from everything else, find a partner that shares your values and vision for the future. Create your life as you want it to be, rather than accepting what currently is (if you are not happy). I have come to learn that sometimes the best things come out of nowhere and just require a little commitment and courage.
Add value to someone else’s life. This one is simple. I am a huge believer in karma. We get out what we put in and what goes around comes around. Help out, listen, and encourage those you care about (or even a complete stranger) to follow their own dreams. In my design business, I get a huge sense of happiness and excitement when I hear from a past client whose company I helped establish is taking off. My input at the very beginning helped them create their own version of a great lifestyle. It’s inspiring and I hope you all get to experience the joy of helping someone else win. The same holds true to helping someone in need emotionally. Often, lending an ear is enough, take the time to check on friends and family. I speak from personal experience when I say, just knowing someone has your back, can bring light to times of darkness.
Exercise, eat, and sleep well. Having battled insomnia and spent much time living with poor daily routines, I now value every second of shut-eye I get. When you’re tired the world can seem bleak and simple tasks grow in size. Train yourself into a good sleeping pattern and you WILL enjoy the benefits. (The Sleep Book, by Dr. Guy Meadows, was a game-changer for me) Get moving, get the heart rate up and get outside. Try to do something every day that gets your moving and breathing, even for 30 minutes. Accompany these self-helping pastimes with a healthy and balanced diet and you will give your body and mind the chance to grow and serve you well for years to come.
Be present. Move mindfully through your day. Mindfulness is a powerful tool in keeping yourself grounded in the present moment. If you think about it, our negative thoughts come from replaying the past or predicting the future. When you notice these thought patterns creeping in try to return your senses to the current point in time. What can you hear, see, smell, and feel? What are you doing? Commit to experiencing it 100% and watch those other thoughts fade into the background. When I started spearfishing, mindfulness was the single most helpful factor in allowing myself to calm down in the water.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness there are many amazing resources online, and books available to you.
I find the art of positive thinking to be an on-going task that requires work and focus. Over time though, as you practice these and similar techniques you will find they become second nature. You will one day realise you are doing them subconsciously and that your life and reactions to its many experiences have changed for the better.