Is the cup half full or half empty? This is a common expression that is often used to determine someone’s outlook. An optimistic view would be to see the glass half full; a more pessimistic view would be to see the glass half empty. There are many ways of interpreting any situation or event. Being positive is a choice. When something goes wrong, even horribly wrong, you can choose to focus only on the bad and feel depleted or you can choose to find something positive and feel hopeful.
Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, has shown that accumulating “micro-moments of positivity” can lead to greater feelings of well-being over time. When you think positive thoughts, you boost your immune system, feel more optimistic, reduce stress, and increase your longevity. The overall quality of life improves and you are more likely to make healthy choices in all areas of your life.
Below are some simple daily habits to try that will foster feelings of positivity:
Start each day naming something for which you are grateful
Many people keep gratitude journals, but even thinking of 1 or 2 things per day for which you are grateful can boost your mood. When you recognize all that you have whether it’s good health, a loving spouse or partner, or food to eat, you increase your satisfaction in life. When I practice gratitude, my whole outlook changes and I start my day feeling more open and happy.
Practice small acts of kindness
Doing good things for other people makes them happier and enhances our own positive feelings. It can be something as simple as greeting a neighbor or providing directions for a stranger. When I have spare change, I will put a quarter in an expired meter that I pass. I know how awful it feels to get a parking ticket and feel great about helping someone avoid that fate. The more of these positive moments I have, the better I feel; it has a cumulative effect on my mood and encourages me to do more nice things.
Appreciate the world around you
Waking up to birds chirping, a beautiful blooming tree, or a friend’s laugh are wonderful experiences. The more often we choose to appreciate these small pleasures, the happier we will be. When I’m feeling stressed, I focus on something special in the moment, like my dog or my garden. I smile and feel more calm.
Do something each day to enhance your relationship with a friend or family member
Strong quality relationships are crucial to our well-being and good health. According to Harvard Medical School, “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer”.
A call or email to a family member or friend can help you stay connected. Tell them how much you care and appreciate them, and better yet, make a plan to get together. You will feel great and help them feel great too.
Ruminating on past problems or future difficulties drains mental energy and steals attention from current enjoyment. Let go of things you can’t control and focus on the here-and-now. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation are about focusing one’s attention to the present moment. You observe your thoughts and feelings and surroundings without judgement. I try to enjoy mindful moments throughout the day; I notice the people I pass on a walk, flowers blooming, and the smells emanating from restaurants. Studies have shown that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative ones.
Each night, say out loud the best moment from your day
Thinking about something good - even if it’s remembering the great cup of coffee you had with breakfast - ends the day in a positive light. By doing this, I’m not dwelling on any regrets or problems, and am able to fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly. I often find myself wondering if an event or situation that I am experiencing will be the “best” moment of my day. This focuses my attention on positive experiences throughout the day.
These are all ways to learn how to be positive. You don’t have to do all of them every day. Start with one or two and make it a habit. The more you do, the more positive and happier you will feel. A positive outlook is a choice - what do you have to lose except a frown?
Kim Sonnabend is a certified Ace-up Life, Money, and Career Coach for those seeking financial security and wellbeing during times of transition. She loves helping her clients discover new visions and possibilities for themselves and take action steps to lead more authentic lives. She has a deep understanding of issues around money and enjoys empowering her clients to make better decisions on how to spend their time and money that honors their values and priorities. Her Money Money Money session package is a hit with clients looking to further explore and understand their relationship to money that goes beyond simple money saving tips.