Friday, January 27, 2017

How to be an Optimist



Welcome to Friday, Besties!  So excited for a fun weekend ahead which includes encouraging time with some of my Besties, church, a dinner party, and hanging out with some of the high school friends I volunteer with.  Also gonna have some family time so it's sure to be a doozy, but don't you worry, I've got big plans for #selfcaresunday to unwind for a bit.  I encourage you to do the same!

Today we're talking about how to be an optimist.  Or at least, how to be more optimistic more of the time.  Aside from reducing your stress, negative thought patterns, and promoting health and well-being, there are tons of good reasons to pursue optimism.  And even if you consider yourself a "glass half empty" type of person, or you can be kind of an Eeyore sometimes, there's so many things you can do to fill that glass just a little more or become just a bit more Tigger-ish.  Can you tell I'm a bit of a Winnie the Pooh fan?

 Here are some things you can try to enjoy the power of positive thinking in your daily life:

  • Notice your negative thoughts - This is the first step to changing your thoughts from negative to positive.  See if you can detect any patterns in your negativity.  Are there people, places, and things which tend to make you feel depressed or cynical?  Try to determine the root of these thoughts.  Are you feeling sorry for yourself?  Are you comparing yourself to someone else?  Just notice what is happening in your mind without judging yourself for it.
  • Keep track of your positive experiences - You can do this in a journal, or simply make a note on your phone.  Or you can use a worksheet like this one.  It is impossible to simultaneously think positively and negatively.  When you are focused on positive experiences (and thus, positive emotions), you are not able to dwell on negativity, even if just for a moment.  Like anything else, the more you practice this, the more natural it will become.
  • Meditate - Yep, I'm talking about meditation again.  There are tons of different topics to choose from in meditation.  Try listening to one that focuses on positivity or happiness each day for a week.  See if you notice an increase in your positive thoughts or find yourself in a better mood more often.
  • Keep a gratitude journal - Practicing gratitude produces the same effect as recalling positive events.  When you fill your mind with people and things you are thankful for, your mind has less room for all the things that aren't going well.  Focus on what you do have, not what you don't.  Even on the crappiest of days, there is always something to appreciate. If you're in need of a new journal, check this one out.
  • Remind yourself that you are loved - One of my favorite forms of self care is going through my "treasure box."  It's basically a big ol' box filled with things that make me smile - art my boys made for me, cards and letters from my husband and other close family and friends, and yes, even some Mickey ears we got surprised with on a past trip to Disney World (nerd alert!).  I can't help but smile when I read the ways I have helped people in the past or why my family loves and appreciates me.  If you don't have a box (or drawer, shelf, etc.) like this, consider making one!  It is sure to lift your spirits on a gloomy day.
  • Begin and end each day with a positive thought - Often people wake up in the morning and immediately their mind jumps to how little sleep they got, how tired they are, or how much they  have to do that day.  Instead, train yourself to think of one good thing first thing in the morning, and again before you go to bed.  It can be anything, big or small.  Perhaps it's something you are looking forward to, a happiest  moment of the day, or recalling a compliment you received.  
  • Please exercise, I beg you - I really can't stress it enough.  And you don't need a lecture, but you do need to know that all the stuff about exercise giving you endorphins and endorphins making you happy is actually backed by science, not just Elle Woods.  So get moving!  Even if you don't feel like it, do it anyway.  Even just a few times per week should be enough for you to reap all the mental health benefits exercising provides, including feeling more optimistic and positive.  And if you're not a gym rat or you're just short on time, check out these workouts you can do from the comfort of home.  
I hope you feel a little more empowered to take control of those negative thoughts!  Let us know in the comments if you have any other suggestions, and have a wonderful HAPPY weekend! 


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