Living a positive lifestyle means choosing to focus on the good things in life more than we focus on the bad.Very few of us can say that we are optimistic about every situation that we face, but we can try our best to limit the amount of negativity allowed into our lives, and that’s where a positive lifestyle fits in.
It takes conscious effort to control our thoughts and keep them from hovering too long over our negative emotions. While it does take work, there are many reasons that we would all be better off filling our lives with as much positive energy as we can.
All of us could use a few reminders of things that will help us continue working towards our most optimistic mindsets. I have a plethora of bad habits that are breeding too much negativity in my life, and I know that I need to take some deliberate steps to reduce them.
There are also a few positive habits that I am not currently practicing and would like to begin to incorporate into a positive lifestyle.
Hopefully, making a few of these changes will help direct other parts of our life towards that same positivity as well.
Positive lifestyle preventers:
Obsessing about the little things
I am the queen of obsessing about little details that don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.
Lately, when I am stressed about finding the perfect outfit for a friend’s birthday dinner, or about making my house look perfect for a get-together, I have been reminding myself that I am stealing my own enjoyment of the event itself by letting it be clouded with unneeded stress.
I don’t want to spend precious moments of my life worried about things that have nothing to do with my happiness. Especially because stressing over those details often affects other people in my life, and in turn, robs them of their enjoyment as well.
Sure, I think that it is nice to feel good about what you are dressed in, and there is a sense of satisfaction about having a beautiful home, but we should be spending more of our time appreciating our friends and our loved ones than we are about making sure we are as close to perfect as possible.
We need to care more about the memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives than we care about the details that will not make it into the mental picture 4 or 5 years from now.
Talking about people negatively
I know that I am not the only one who needs to get rid of some of the negativity that I let into my life by reducing the amount that I talk about other people behind their backs.
Most of the time, the judgmental comments about other people are entirely unnecessary anyways. Maybe it’s our attempt to make us feel better about ourselves, or maybe it just seems like a comical way to make conversation.
Regardless of the reasoning, we need to filter our thoughts and our words more carefully. We are not only moving away from living a positive lifestyle when we foster this bad habit, but we are preventing everyone who is listening to us from living their most positive lives as well. It helps when we surround ourselves with positive people rather than the toxic types who hold us back.
We might not have been thinking of this practice as spreading negativity, but it is one of the most viral ways we are doing so. I am challenging myself to examine what I am about to say before I say it. Is it necessary? Is it helpful?
Would I say it if the person I am speaking about was in the room with me? Not only does this limit the spreading of unfavorable conversation, but it means that I can free myself of the guilt that I usually feel later about what I said about someone.
When people talk about me, I want them to say that I am kind and compassionate instead of a gossip. It also seems fitting to remind ourselves that it would put a damper on our own positivity to find out that someone had been talking about us badly.
Most of our life situations are ones that we chose to be in, but we still do a lot of complaining about them. Our jobs, our relationships, our house payments, etc are all things that we chose for ourselves because at one point they made us happy.
If some of these things are preventing us from living positively on a daily basis, it might be time to re-evaluate them and make some changes. Making a switch to a positive lifestyle means examining the things that are stressing us out so much and either remembering why we still want them in our lives or getting rid of them.
I know that leaving a stressful job isn’t always as easy as it sounds, or downsizing your living situation comes with challenges, but if those things are causing us to live less-fulfilled lives, then they aren’t worth it in the end and we need to make a change somehow.
I have talked with multiple friends who were feeling unappreciated, unloved, and burdened by their romantic relationships on a regular basis. While all partnerships have their challenges, they should be just that – a partnership where both parties feel that their lives are better for being in them.
Once my friends finally made the decision to remove themselves from these unhealthy situations, they all expressed a feeling of being lighter. A lot of the things that we need to get rid of are causing us to feel unnecessarily heavy, and that weight is keeping us from being the best versions of ourselves.
Big life-changes are not easy ones to make, but in the end, making those adjustments allow better things to come into our lives.
Stressing about things we cannot change
Some of life’s stressful circumstances are ones that we didn’t choose for ourselves. So how can we deal with the things that we don’t have any control over a little bit better?
Difficult family members, an illness, a lay-off, a totaled vehicle are all things that can happen to us without our choosing.
I cannot count the number of times that I have been stuck in traffic on my way home from work and have started to get angry about it. I end up getting home with that grumpiness from the road still lingering in my mind, and it puts a damper on the rest of my evening.
There is nothing that I could have done to predict or prevent sitting in traffic, but I am still letting it cost me some of my mental energy.
Worrying or stressing about things that have already happened is also a common theme for many of us. I tend to think about all of the what-ifs and obsess about what I could have done differently to prevent an adverse outcome, but all of the obsessing in the world is not going to change our pasts. Worrying is just the illusion of control.
The only things that we can focus on is what we will do in the future, and how we will use our mistakes to better ourselves.
We all stress about things that we cannot do anything to change, but we also have the ability to make a different emotional choice each time those feelings come up.
Dealing with uncontrollable situations with grace and optimism might not only save us some of our precious sanity, but it also might help us to solve the problem sooner with a little extra mental capacity to spare. Or at least keep the problem from getting worse.
Positive lifestyle promoters:
Some of us might need to find ways to express ourselves a little bit more. Many of us feel like the phrase ‘express yourself’ is something that we grew out of as we became adults.
We feel that it is immature or unproductive to spend our time on ‘pointless’ activities. Not all of us are wired to be really creative, or talented in the arts, but we are all better versions of ourselves when we exercise our creative side even in adulthood.
Dancing around the kitchen, singing at the top of our lungs in the shower, painting an abstract art piece, building a birdhouse, or writing about our feelings are all tools that can help us stay in-tune with our emotions.
Even just listening to upbeat music can alter our brain chemistry and pick up our moods. I often write things out to help myself work through them visually.
I recently found a list of life-goals that I had written out for myself years ago. I’ve written previously about the joy of listing. Anyhow, I had just graduated from college and I was terrified about my future when I wrote it. I had dreams, but I no idea how to accomplish them or which path I should take to start out.
I remember laying in the living room of my basement apartment and writing a list of all the things that I would achieve if there was nothing holding me back. I had completely forgotten about the list, and it brings tears to my eyes to think about how it felt to find it again and be able to cross a couple of things off of it!
Writing out my crazy dreams with a crayon while lying on the floor of my apartment very well could have been the first tiny step towards believing that I could achieve them. Even if it is for no greater purpose than to get out some frustration, or tune out the world for a few moments, we can all find something creative that we like to do.
We might even find that we are really good at it!
We are all guilty of over-complicating situations sometimes. There is often an easy solution to a lot of our situations, but we overlook it because we let our emotions get so big that they cloud our judgment.
“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.” – Albert Einstein.
I would argue that we don’t have to be geniuses to choose to keep our lives as simple as we can. We just have to be self-aware and not let our emotions run away with our actions.
Sometimes I find that I have been living in a bubble of stress and anxiety for a few days without even realizing it.
When I finally voice the things that have me feeling like I can’t rest, it’s much easier to sort through them and stop letting them run me into the ground.
A lot of our stresses can look less intimidating when we remember to get back to the basics of our daily routines and taking care of ourselves. Brush our teeth, eat fruits and vegetables, drink water, laugh, get some sleep, repeat.
When a situation seems to be getting the best of us, let’s try to take a step back and remember that we can make a choice to find a simple solution if we want to.
Be extra kind
Think about how good it makes us feel when someone does something nice for us that they didn’t have to do.
The barista at Starbucks gives us a larger coffee at no charge, our neighbor brings our trash cans in from the curb for us, a friend brings us a gift for no occasion. Those things make us feel so good, and they can change the way that we see the rest of our day.
We have that same power to be extra kind to others.
We can have a hand in spreading around generosity and compassion, but we can’t wait for an opportunity to present itself, we have to seek out chances to make a difference.
Doing something kind for someone else can be a simple gesture, but it can also apply on a bigger scale. We can volunteer at a soup kitchen, an after-school program, or a housing project.
There is an endless list of organizations that need our help. I have had the privilege of working with a few global humanitarian groups to bring various aide to areas in need.
The most generous and joyful people I have come across in my lifetime happen to be those who are living in the poorest of conditions. I have learned a great deal about what it means to choose happiness and to choose to not be a prisoner to my circumstances from the men, women, and children that I went to help.
It turned out that it was always me who ended up learning, growing, and gaining perspective from them. You don’t need to have a lot to give a lot. In fact, a woman who I had the pleasure of spending some time with in Africa told me that she would always feed all the children in her village and when her children asked her why she did it when they barely had enough food for themselves she responded, ‘no one has ever lost all they had because they chose to be generous with what they were given’.
Most of us have no excuse for not sharing our time, our wealth, or our skills with someone who needs it. Plus, it leaves us feeling just as good as the person on the receiving end.
Cut ourselves some slack
The situations mentioned above are all simpler examples of making changes to a happier life, but there are phases of life that are much too heavy to be edited so easily.
It’s much harder to remain positive during times of grief, depression, or confusion because of the complexity of the emotions involved.
Difficult times are an unavoidable part of life, but it does not mean that we cannot hang on to our optimism while carrying some of our burdens.
There is no way for any of us to be emotionally prepared to lose a loved one or experience any other kind of serious grief or depression.
I do not believe that maintaining a positive perspective throughout a dark period in our lives means pretending that everything is fine when it is not. In fact, I think that the only way to hold on to the light in our spirits during times like these is to be honest about how hard things really are.
Talking about pain, heartache, loss, and sadness might seem counterintuitive to a conversation about positivity, but working through the dark and terrible things will help us get to the other side of our pain with a little more hope than if we were to try to force ourselves through to happiness as quickly as possible.
Just trying to ‘stay positive’ will never actually address the issues that are going on in our hearts and our minds when any of us are trying to wade through the muck of emotional battles.
The best benefits of positive thinking might not even be possible for some of us at certain points in our lives. What I hope will bring some comfort to all of us is that whatever we are feeling, or not feeling, at any given time in our lives is alright.
We do not always have to walk around with a smile or with a positive attitude to be considered well-adjusted and happy people. There is nothing wrong with us admitting that while we want to be able to see things positively, we are going through a rough spell and we need some time to figure it out.
The only thing that really stands between us and our most positive lives is our own mindsets. I believe in the importance of fostering a positive environment for my own wellbeing as well as for the wellbeing of those who are around me, and that a positive lifestyle does not happen by accident.
There is no way to create a life free of hardship, but by putting our focus on finding a solution to our problems, rather than focusing on the problems themselves we will be able to control our mental states better.
Many of our negative habits can be altered by being more diligent about controlling what we let into our minds and what we let come out of our mouths.
Choosing peace, joy, hope, optimism, or grace is not always easy for any of us but choosing those expressions in spite of our circumstances is what will begin to weave together a more positive life and will attract even more positive things toward us.