Has life got you down in the dumps? It happens to everyone. If you’re watching people walking around in bubbles of sickeningly happy optimism while you still seem to be stuck at ground zero getting constantly pummeled by difficulties, please read on. Most people have been exactly where you are and have felt exactly the way you feel. It’s time to look at what these happy people do…and how we can join their ranks.
1) Keep a Journal
I’m a little crazy in that I have a planner for tracking important dates, events, workflow, and a record of what I did every day. Then, I have my journal for more personal things, like venting when I’ve had a particularly rough day. Some people like to keep gratitude journals of all the things in life they are grateful for.
It’s up to you as to what kind of journal you keep. In the end, the one you will stick to is the best. For me, gratitude journaling didn’t work as well. I found myself writing about the same thing every day and always end up abandoning the journal all together, after a while.
Planners can be great because they keep you organized NOW. Things you need to remember to do this week, next week and in the short term. Personal journals do wonders keeping track of what was going on in your life and how you are feeling. When I went through a bad relationship, it was wonderful to be able to read entries where I was suffering and details of the bad relationship. It kept my mind and memory straight…and was a great source of comfort and self-soothing when I just needed to let out all my anger and frustration. Best of all, it helped me to decide to leave a relationship that was bad for me after reading how unhappy I was.
2) Find friends who have the same goal of being more positive
Nobody is perfect. The best friends you will find are your friends who are still working on themselves and committed to being a better person, too. It’s great to have friends in the same phase of life as yourself.
Maybe they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, too, and want to excel, succeed and do better. I heard some wisdom once that for every negative person you eliminate from your life, someone positive will come along to replace them. In my life, it’s proven true.
I recently had a very negative person who was very jealous try to launch an all-out smear campaign against my name. I lost friends in droves. People I thought knew me well were swayed against me. Only a few people bothered to ask for the truth. In those people, I found true friendship. I traded the negative, fake friends for a handful of real ones and have honestly never felt so content. It was like a huge weight was lifted off me when certain very angry, negative and manipulative people were gone from my life.
Examine your circle and cut ties. It may be the best thing you ever do even though cutting ties may feel like a period of complete hell.
3) Listen to music that soothes your soul
You will know it when you find it. Some music speaks to people differently. Soothing music is great when you need to relax and refresh yourself. Smooth jazz, chill out music, sometimes even just disgustingly happy pop music…and hey, maybe even heavy metal for those days where you have some anger floating around your soul needing release.
Music is so healing and can help through anything you’re going through. I guarantee you there is a song for everything that ails you. Start Googling ‘Best friend break up music’, ‘bad day at work music’, ‘music to relieve anxiety’ – I promise you it’s all out there.
4) Start your day off right
If you dig into positive and motivational literature, you will often find it repeated it over and over – How you start your day is EVERYTHING. Some people swear by getting up earlier for many reasons. They feel like they have more time during daylight hours, it’s more peaceful and quiet, etc. Think of it this way, if you get up earlier, you have the rest of the day ahead of you. Waking up early gives you time to manifest your day. You get to think about all the things you will accomplish that day.
Waking up earlier gives you more clean slate time. You get to enjoy the hours where the day is still fresh. Nothing bad has happened yet. You have a whole day ahead of you and can think of how you’re going to make it a great one. You have extra time for all those things you normally don’t have time for – Exercise, meditation, eating a healthy breakfast, etc.
Don’t roll your eyes at me! I know every list includes exercise and it doesn’t make you feel any better to read it if you’re not doing it. Not to mention you probably have a million excuses as to why you can’t. You just don’t feel like it, you don’t have any work out clothes (this is my personal go-to excuse), you’re worried you’re too unhealthy to work out, you don’t have time, you don’t have anywhere to work out, you don’t have a gym membership, you don’t have anyone to work out with, etc.
I recently had a girlfriend ask me to start walking with her on her lunch breaks. After the first time we walked about a mile and a half, we texted each other afterwards marveling about how GOOD we felt and how much more energy we had. We felt like we were dying on the walk, being slightly out of shape, but it made our whole day better.
Even if it’s just walking, get moving. I once lived somewhere I didn’t really feel safe walking so I would walk laps through my house. I called it my ‘Redneck treadmill’ – and I lost 20 lbs without a gym membership or ever leaving my house. I have lots of friends into yoga, as well, who claim it has been exactly what they needed.
Here’s another groaner. “Sorry, I’m not a frickin’ Buddhist,” a friend told me when I confessed how much meditation had helped me. Well, neither am I.
I know the image of meditation makes a lot of people laugh. You immediately may conjure thoughts of someone sitting cross-legged humming to themselves and looking ridiculous. Force those thoughts from your mind. Seriously. Meditation doesn’t have to be weird. You can meditate whatever your faith and don’t feel stupid. A lot of “cool” people meditate.
I downloaded one of the most amazing apps that has made such a difference in my life. Click on those underlined words and thank me later. The app has a timer where you can take time out of your day to meditate…Or, if you’re like me and have no idea how to shut off your brain to meditate – They have wonderful guided meditations for just about any circumstance. Even ones for headaches!
Meditation is fantastic for sufferers of anxiety, high blood pressure, etc. It really does help slow your mind down and resolve racing thoughts. It takes some practice, but it’s enormously healing.
7) Sleep your way to sanity
Sleep is the time in which your body heals itself. If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not going to be feeling well. Your mind needs the shut off time, your body needs the shut off time. These are the magic hours in which your body and mind literally renew and reset. Don’t underestimate the power of Zzzzzs.
8) Clean and create a comfortable space to live in
If you have children, you probably feel like your life revolves around cleaning. A clean house can seriously refresh your outlook. The condition of the space you live in often has a huge impact on your mental health. A messy, cluttered space means a messy, cluttered mind. A dirty space means a…well, not a dirty mind, but certainly leads to a depressed one!
It’s often the last thing we feel like doing, but if life has you down having a little control over making your environment beautiful helps.
Say, you are out of work and sitting there every day sending out résumés and waiting on that callback that could change your life – This is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Think about it – When that life-changing job finally arrives, you may not have this kind of time again. Think about how good it will feel when you finally land that job to come home to a beautiful living space. Maybe you are working around the clock and just can’t get to it. Hire a housekeeper! Don’t underestimate the power of a clean house.
Start with your bedroom and move outward. The first thing you see every morning is your bedroom. Who wants to open their eyes to piles of laundry? Then tackle the dishes in your kitchen sink and make sure the area where you eat is clean. Have you ever cleaned the house and found yourself disappointed later? Likely not.
9) Love yourself
Cliché much? How does one “love” herself/himself? (Stop with the dirty mind). Does this involve all that stuff about looking in the mirror and talking to yourself? Absolutely not. Beginning to understand self love is actually quite easy. Here is how you do it: Think of something you hate to do. Tomorrow, when you wake up, what would you be so happy if someone just did for you?
Do all the things for yourself TODAY you would be thankful if you woke up tomorrow and found them done and taken off your plate. It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up the next morning and know your past self cared about your future self enough to make your life easier today. Then, pay it forward to the next day’s future self.
This thinking of yourself in past/future tense sounds a little nuts, at first, but as you start practicing it, you will have this beautiful epiphany that doing what you dread now to ease the length of dread, depression, worry, etc. in your life will transform your entire existence. You will be loving yourself out of depression because your past self cared enough to stand up and tackle the hard things for your future self’s happiness. Yes, it sounds like some ‘Matrix‘, ‘Inception‘, ‘Dr. Who‘, time travel craziness. But just try it! You will begin to love yourself for your caring and productivity. It will transform who you are.
The way you eat can have a huge reflection on the way you feel. You can’t continue putting regular gasoline into a diesel engine and expecting it to perform optimally. It takes a lot of experimenting and treating your body like a science experiment, but you will eventually find the optimal diet for you. Notice which foods give you energy, which foods make you feel good, which foods degrade your health, which foods tend to cause illness, etc.
Before you discount the power of food, think of coffee. Coffee is proven to give us energy. Alcohol is proven to get us drunk. The salicylic acid in Tylenol is proven to relieve our headaches. Every substance that enters your body has the power to impact your body, mind and health in some way. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.
On a personal note, I found eating roasted garlic has been fantastic for healing anxiety. I might smell weird, but I’m more confident and have a general overall sense of well-being. I also notice drinking beet juice gives me energy and clarity of thought. Find what works to make you feel your best. The more you can help yourself physically, the better off you will feel mentally.
11) Keep the Good, Discard the Bad
Compliment files are a great idea. This is where you write down or copy/paste from e-mails, letters, social media comments, etc. when someone says something really kind about you and save them for the not-so-great days. It’s often easy to become discouraged with others putting us down. Once, I had an ex-boyfriend tell me, “You’re the kindest person I’ve ever known — And that makes you the classiest person I’ve ever known. I think kindness is all in how you treat other people and I’ve never met anyone as kind or as classy as you.”
Compliments like this shape our lives more than we are even aware, at the time. However, we may not always remember the compliment if we don’t make a conscious ability to remember. We may become so embarrassed or flustered at receiving the compliment that we become more focused on how to respond rather than filing this very important information into our subconscious.
This is an outstanding practice for anyone who works a job in which they face a daily barrage of insults. It helps you to define who you really are so other people’s realities do not become enmeshed with your own.
12) Learn to Self Soothe
How do you de-stress? Some people listen to music, some have a glass of wine, some work out, some sing, some dance, some cuddle with their pets, some watch movies or TV shows to take their mind off things, some Google articles on whatever is troubling them, some write, some read, some turn to their journals, some turn to a friend, and some have learned what is almost an art form – Self therapy.
You can literally talk yourself through almost any problem if you try. Sometimes you will even find you were the one who overreacted in a situation or were wrong. Learning to self soothe will help you be more positive because you will be able to rationalize your way into more positive thinking. You will learn which thoughts are irrational, which should be ignored, and what should be taken from an experience for your growth and well-being. You will also learn there are times when you can do nothing to make the situation any better, except to soothe yourself through self care like relaxing in front of a fire, treating yourself, a hot bath, etc.
13) Encourage Others
I was once involved in a fitness program which not only focused on exercise and nutrition; One of the most important parts of the program was an aspect which they called the Universal Law of Reciprocation. It encouraged that if you give back to others, the universe will give back to you in reciprocation. It was an interesting theory and may or may not be completely true, but I did notice that during my time in this program – I was the most positive I’ve ever been in my entire life.
Every day, you must do three kind things for others. That was the modus operandi I was following back then and it worked. Making other people happy will bring you immeasurable happiness.
If you are in a really dark place and dwelling in bitterness, you will find this difficult to do. Jealousy grows in the dark like a fungus. You must learn to stop viewing everyone else as your competition and view them as someone equal to you that deserves good things to happen to them. Fill your soul with light and be kind to your fellow humans. You’ll be pleasantly shocked how things will begin to go in your favor.
14) Get back to nature
Sunlight is such a powerful force for creating positivity. Our society now seems to spend much of our time on electronics and less outside in nature. There is something to be said for the beauty of nature, the power it has over us, and its contribution to better mental health. Not to mention, new research has shown that walking barefoot on the earth actually may be good for our health.
Spending time every day in the outdoors can make us realize that life is much bigger than us, bigger than our problems and full of possibilities and promise.