Some days it seems that everything is against you, like you fall into a rut and it feels there's no escape. Here are some simple ways to have a positive attitude.
- Do something nice, for somebody else
- Change something
- Look at the bright side
- Distract yourself
- Have a goal
I'll briefly expound on these: When you smile it activates endorphins that actually work to make you happy, the saying "fake it till you make it" actually applies, and there are few people who can carry on a negative attitude while genuinely smiling. Singing has a mixture of interesting affects, first you release the same endorphins you do when smiling, but you combine those with the kind of controlled breathing and concentration required to sing, and suddenly you're walking on sunshine (it's nearly meditative). An article in Discovery Health relates that "A study published in Australia in 2008 revealed that on average, choral singers rated their satisfaction with life higher than the public — even when the actual problems faced by those singers were more substantial than those faced by the general public"
It seems counter intuitive, but you can make yourself happier by focusing on someone else than you can by focusing on your own happiness, most service, if done with the genuine intent to involve yourself in what you're doing allows you the opportunity to focus on something other than your own problems, and do something to make the world a better place. If there were one trick to easing depression, I'd call it service. Exercise is both a great distraction, and a natural way of lifting depression. Countless studies have been done that show how much better the endorphins from working out are at easing the effects of depression than a 'magic pill'. I know that through some of the darkest periods of my life it was only the stress relieving release of utter muscle fatigue that helped push me along.
Pain is a signal to pay attention and do something different, sometimes sadness is the same kind of signal, not external, but with the same effect. If doing the same thing over and over again isn't working to make you happy, then do the same thing differently, or if it's something that isn't important, find something else to do. If you 'hate your life' then change it, don't hurt anyone, but find a way to mix it up a bit. After high school I found myself in a bit of a rut, one thing had led to another and instead of basking in my sorrow I ended up joining the Air Force. I'm sure there are less drastic measures you can take to change your environment, but that worked for me.
Look at the bright side! I've always found that there are two ways to look at a rain storm, one is "YES!!! It's raining! Grass can grow, plants can live, and the earth can be cleaned!" or "Oh bother, it's raining… guess I'll get wet, I don't know why this kind of thing always happens to me." Looking at the bright side IS a skill so you need to practice it, but the reward is a ready smile when life gets hard. (And let's be honest, no one wants to be around the person who who complains about the rain.)
Here's a fun trick… next time you're extremely sad… try to stay sad AND dance at the same time. Let me know how that works for you.
At all times I have a reservoir in my mind of some very funny things, not all are appropriate, but they all are very specific to my sense of humor and what I know would make me laugh out loud at even the worst of times. If the police officer is wondering why I'm cracking a grin while he's writing the ticket, it's because I'm trying not to laugh out loud. What I would suggest of anyone and everyone is that you should start a collection of things that make you laugh hysterically; make an envelope and mark it "Open In Case of Emergency!"
Second to last, in my list of how to do a positive attitude, is "Distract yourself" Some people do this through some destructive means, like video games or some kind of substance abuse, and that is NOT what this is about. I learned as a young parent that children are relatively simple, they don't think of two things at one time so if they are distressed, the best way to stop them from crying is to distract them. It's the same way with older children and adults, if you're in a rut, and you can't do anything about it, thinking about it will not help, it'll just keep you in that rut, go do something different. For some of the most brilliant people I've known this involves playing the piano or drawing, some people go hiking, some people go on a walk. Can you think of any other healthy form of distraction that might work for you? (I like to read a book)
Last, but not least in my list of how to do a positive attitude is to set goals, being miserable, and looking toward a positive future are two polar opposites, they cannot exist in the same place at the same time, this is the main point of a goal… it is a positive outlook on the future. "I have a goal to play the piano" paints a future of you playing the piano in the future, achieving something like this WILL make you happy, and watching the little achievements on the way will only strengthen that feeling of accomplishment. If you find you're stuck in a rut, simply make a goal and work towards it.
Sometimes it's 'nice' to bask in your sorrow, but if you do NOT want to stay sad, here are some things to avoid:
- Wallow in self misery
- Focus on what you think will make you happy at the expense of others (Selfish)
- Hate life
- Bring other down
- Binge eating
I'll only focus on one of these things to avoid, in my experience moping has never made anyone good friends, made anyone want to spend time together, or resolved any problems. One of my favorite quotes comes from the wise Jedi Qui Gon Jinn in Star Wars, The Phantom Menace: "Your focus determines your reality." It is true, if your focus is on how miserable you are, then the reality will be that you are miserable. It's easy to give in to the temptation to wallow in self pity, but while you do that, remember that there is only one destination for the arrow that is pointed towards the mud.
I understand that everyone has had different experiences in their past, lease share your experiences, what's worked for you, or hasn't worked for you.
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