5 Ways to Cultivate Optimism for More Happiness
It's no secret that health and happiness go hand and hand. And when it comes to happiness, individual thoughts are powerful.
Are you sick and tired of thinking “I’m never going to get this right” or “I might as well give up now” or “I’m not good enough, thin enough, or smart enough”? I know I certainly have.
The truth is, negative self-talk can seriously affect our moods and bodies. Research shows positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude. Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile. It's associated with lower rates of depression, better cardiovascular health, increased life span, and even a greater resistance to the common cold.
I have deliberately practice positive thinking for 24+ years now; sometimes not doing as good as I could have but always reminding myself of how important a positive outlook can be and truly being more optimistic in my day to day life.
I understand that this might come to others a bit easier and in case you need a nudge to cultivate more positivity for a happier, healthier life I want to remind you of a few tips that work for me.
1. Actively express gratitude
The research on how expressing gratitude leads to a more optimistic outlook and a happier life is impressively solid. So, just by sending a thankful message to someone is a perfect way to start off.
Use the end of the day, week, month and year as a time of reflect on meaningful experiences you have had.
You can build a habit by writing (or even just reflecting on) three to five things you are grateful for at the end of each day. This repetition will help you shift your focus towards looking for moments of gratitude. They can literally be anything big or small, like a loved one getting great news from the doctor or you enjoying the best cup of coffee.
2. Try visualization and meditation
Slowing down on purpose helps us see things more clearly. I often use the image of my heart beat when I am trying to slow my busy mind down. Your mind might be full and cloudy, but intentionally taking a few slow and deep breaths your mind becomes more relaxed and more clear. Let your mind settle as you breathe the image in.
If you crave even more meditation practices there are countless apps and programs with guided meditations, many of which focus on positive thinking, that you can easily add into your day.
3. Choose your surroundings carefully
If you spend time with Debbie Downers and Negative Nicks all day, it is bound to rub off on you. Of course, we don’t always have the option to avoid others who bring us down, but if and when you can, try to limit the time.
Now, if you have someone who always brightens your day and makes you laugh, reach out to them more often. Spend more time with people who celebrate life and inspire you.
4. Consume happiness
I noticed that when I started distancing myself from overloading my brain with negative news, show and articles and intentionally consuming more joyful content it automatically started to change my daily mood. Reading and watching things that leave me feeling good will naturally add to my daily dose of happiness.
5. Let go, and be playful
We all know and understand that we need to step away from our devices and realize that this can be harder than we think. But you can intentionally set no-phone dinners and screen time limitations, leaving room for spontaneous fun. Get outside more, find a funny movie to watch (without constantly scrolling), or find a new source of goodness.
I hope these tricks help kick start the New Year. And remember the mind-body connection is extraordinary; just like food and movement can heal your body, increasing positivity and building a healthy mindset can impact your health. Empower yourself to add more joy and happiness to your life, today.