A regular day in the lives of most of us includes rushing to get the kids ready for school, running errands, doing household chores, interacting with all sorts of people, positive and negative, having to go to work, delivering kids to after-school activities, making dinner, disciplining the kids, resolving conflicts, getting frustrated or angry, feeling overtaxed, perhaps with little time to ourselves, and, of course, being exposed to all kinds of bad news from the media. Not a very bright picture, isn’t it? Truth of the matter, all of the above stressors build up and can easily and sneakily lead to a negative attitude that has a spillover effect: it affects us, our kids, partners, our social life, our emotional and even physical health. These are scientific facts. The question is, can we change our negative attitude and make it positive? The answer is- YES! It takes some time and practice, but having a positive attitude is such a rewarding experience! Here are some simple yet effective ways to cultivate a positive attitude. After all, our attitude determines the quality of our life.
1. Start with your day with an empowering morning routine
Sometimes in order to gain those five precious minutes of extra sleep we get up the last minute and then we start hurrying, nagging the kids to do faster and by the time everybody’s off to school or work we have this negative feeling and sense of exhaustion. A better way to start the day is to set the alarm a few minutes earlier (even better half an hour earlier). Instead of hitting the snooze button and ordering yourself “rush!” start your day with a positive affirmation “today is another good day”, or “I am strong, happy, competent and ready to have a good day” or anything to that effect. Drink a glass water to replenish your organism and enjoy your morning drink along with some music, the newspaper or something pleasurable. Then get ready for your day!
Start your day smiling. Research shows that when the muscles in your face form a smile, the brain gets the message “I am happy” (whether you feel happy or not) and starts releasing endorphins and serotonin, the natural feel good chemicals our body produces. Think of a happy memory, surround your space with objects you love and carry a meaningful history, look at your kids or at a picture of nature. When you smile, your brain is already having a positive attitude and it’s all yours to keep!
3. Learn to talk to yourself positively
What does your inner dialogue say? How is your inner voice talking to you? Do you talk to yourself gently, warmly? Are you accepting of and encouraging yourself? Or is it a harsh inner voice that berates and critiques you constantly? Studies show that the way we speak to ourselves correlates with the way we feel and the choices we make. Start talking to yourself the way you would if your best friend had the same problems and was confiding in you. What would you say? How would you say it? For example, would you ever tell a person you deeply care for “you are a lousy parent,” or would you say, “you are a good parent but sometimes you make mistakes?” Speaking positively to yourself is more motivating than speaking negatively and it helps create a positive outlook.
4. Declutter and organize
Did you know that a scientific study actually found that women living in a stressful home (dirty, disorganized, stressful) had increased depressed mood over the course of the day, compared to women living in non-stressful homes (clean, organized, peaceful) who had less depression during the day. The explanation may be as simple as that: coming to a dirty and disorganized home one feels pressed to do something about it, which increases stress, and by not doing anything gets even more frustrated and stressed. Consider cleaning your mess up after you finish getting dressed in the morning, picking up the visible mess in the kitchen after meals and enlisting the help of all family members to this good cause.
5. Describe your life using positive language
Words have tremendous power: the way we think colors our perception of our life and our reality. If we use positive words, words of hope, encouragement, comfort, cheering, enthusiasm, grace and inspiration we create an environment where we can help, encourage, heal, understand, support, dream- do positive things for ourselves and those around us. In contrast, when we use negative words, like despair, chaos, destruction, depression, then we create an environment that’s psychologically hurtful and destructive. Of course I am not suggesting that we pretend we don’t have problems. On the contrary, we need to acknowledge the presence of problems and difficulties. At the same time, we need to describe our lives in a positive way, focusing on the positive and good that there is, with encouragement to overcome the obstacles.
6. Focus on solutions, not just problems
As I stated before, we all have our share of problems. There is no reason to compare and contrast who has it worst, because every person has a different way of perceiving and feeling their problems. However, maintaining a positive attitude even in the face of difficulty is crucial. As part of a positive attitude, you can focus on possible solutions, offer and receive constructive criticism, learn to see the upside and the downside of things and keep your perspective because there is always room for improvement.
7. Feed Your Brain with Positivity
We are constantly bombarded in the news with disasters, natural or manmade, problems and difficulties and we witness our own distress and disappointments and dilemmas as we go through life. Why not counterbalance that with a good dose of positivity? Read books and watch movies you love, listen to music that makes you feel good, invest in a hobby or leisure activity that makes you happy, read articles and books on positivity, empowerment and self-development.
8. Enjoy Life’s Small Pleasures
Years of scientific research show that big pleasures — graduation, getting married, winning the lottery, getting a dream job, getting a promotion, etc.- are all good sources of happiness, but, unfortunately, they tend to last for a relatively short period of time. The people in the aforementioned studies, after experiencing a heightened happiness, within a year from the happy event, returned to their previous level of happiness. Studies show that enjoying the small pleasures of life is a sure way to ensure joy and happiness in our lives. Enjoying a walk in nature, the sand under your feet, the clouds floating in the sky, a fragrant bouquet of flowers, a tasty treat, are all ways to infuse our daily life with more joy. Create an attitude of happiness, for real happiness comes from inside and not from external events.
9. Keep a Journal of Gratitude to Build a Positive Attitude
Research shows that when you engage in grateful thinking, then you savor your positive experiences and prolong the enjoyment by reliving them. What are three things that you have in your life that you are grateful for? Write them down and watch your self-esteem and self-worth go up as you realize the good stuff in your life- what you have accomplished and you are proud of and what others have contributed in your life.
10. Stop Complaining and Focus on the Good
It’s easy to get in the mode of complaining about all the things you can and can’t control- the tantrums of your kids, the messy house, the arguments with your partner, the stress in your life, the weather, the economy, whatever. Yet complaining is not going to get you anywhere, it only creates negativity and fosters stress and depression. Notice what’s not good, see if you can do something about it, but focus proactively on the positive and the good in you, in your kids and family, in your neighborhood, in the whole word. You ‘ll be amazed how much good you will discover once you start looking for it and that will definitely help your positivity muscle grow stronger.