Most of us run busy lives and the pressures and demands that working, raising a family, running the home, keeping ourselves healthy and creating time and space for the fun stuff can be overwhelming at times. Life is hectic and it’s easy to let yourself get caught up in an emotional spiral that sometimes starts heading downwards.
In recent months I have been reading and studying topics around mindfulness, the power of positive thinking and approaches to improve the mood in which I live my life. Even with the busiest lives (which I secretly very much thrive in) I have been discovering how I can keep my mood up and my approaches to life positive so I can go upwards on the spiral rather than downwards.
Today I wanted to share some of my strategies and what I see others doing to remain positive and happy.
Start your day with a smile
When I was young I used to spend time in Kent with my Aunt in the summer holidays. One day she took me to a Christian shop in Canterbury and bought me a poster that read ‘The smile you send out returns back to you’. Obviously I was a little grumpy on this particular trip and at the time I was not quite sure what she was trying to tell me. But that poster remained on my wardrobe door for many years and became a mantra of mine which I now share with my 5 year old. If you smile to others, are happy and positive, then you create a happy environment for others to also flourish in their happiness. I am now very aware of how my mood can affect the mood of my husband and of my children. Starting the day with a smile and a positive outlook can make a big difference to both yourself and those around you whether it be your family, your team at work or your friends you’re meeting up with.
Be present for this day
Live in the moment you are in. Thinking about the past is not going to change anything so let it go. Whilst thinking and planning for the future is necessary it can also paralyse you at times. Give the future the right amount of time and then live for today. If the sun is shining then make the most of it (especially if you reside in the UK!), if you have a long list of jobs then whack on the music and get on with it. Make the most of the day – you’ll never get this day back again so use it wisely.
Turn negative situations into positive experiences
Yes of course it is frustrating being stuck in a traffic jam but rather than give in to the frustration and allowing yourself to get angry, think about what you can do with the extra time you now have. Phone a old friend you have been meaning to call (hands free of course!), play a game with your children, or have that conversation you have been meaning to have with your husband but never seem to have the time to have. Most people 5 years after being made redundant report that it was the best thing that ever happened to them. It allowed them the time and gave them the push to do things that had only dreamt of doing before. So try and take each situation as a learning opportunity and relish the challenge.
Everyone is fighting their own secret battles so be kind and respectful of that. What you are presented with in people is not the whole truth. So if you feel that someone is a little rude with you, or unhelpful then try not to react in a negative way but make a choice to remain positive and calm. The shop assistant may have just found a lump in her breast or had a difficult conversation with her husband that morning. She is more likely to become more helpful if you remain positive and calm with your requests than if you start shouting and screaming at her. And you will remain in a positive state rather than allowing yourself to be negatively affected by the situation.
Look for the best in people
Rather than becoming frustrated and using negative language to describe someone, look for the good in them and think the better of their actions and behaviour. Most people act with the best intentions in mind, it’s just that their intentions may not be the same as yours. Rather than getting upset because someone has not returned your call, think the better of them by reminding yourself that they are a working mother with 3 children, husband working away from home and maybe one of the kids is poorly. Getting frustrated and angry will soon start to erode your positivity. Thinking the better of someone can make you feel a lot better about yourself which will nourish your own positivity.
Use positive language
Think about the language you use and the impact it has on you and others. This takes time as your language is well ingrained from your many years of conversing with others. If someone asks how you are try respond with ‘I’m good / great / super’ rather than ‘I’m not too bad / fine / OK’. By telling yourself and others positive messages will be a self fulfilling prophecy. Think about all the good things happening in your life and make those the focus of your conversations rather than the negative ones. Now of course we all need to get things off our chest sometimes but don’t allow yourself to bring it up in every conversation and talk about the actions you are going to take to make it better. And remember your body language – only 7% of how you communicate your feelings is through your words, the rest is through your body language and how you say those words. If you are a ‘sigher’ – take note and be aware of it and try to reduce it.
And my last nugget is that of laughter and seeing the funny side of situations
Being able to laugh at yourself and see the funny side of the situations we get ourselves into will stop us getting defensive about our behaviour and actions. Laughter is the best cure for unhappiness or depressing thoughts and your best memories will be those when you were having fun and enjoying yourself. Of course life does throw us some situations which we will struggle to see the funny side of (death, terminal illness etc) but if you are feeling low try not to wallow in it but allow yourself some time to watch a comedy or pick up the phone to someone who can bring out the lighter side of you and can remind you of the funny antics that Nana got up to in her life.
That’s all from me today but let me know what strategies you use to keep yourself upbeat and feeling positive– I’d love to learn from yours too. I will leave you with the tune that may stay in your head today as it has mine – ‘When you’re smiling, the whole worlds smiles with you!’
Emma Ryan is an Executive, Career and Life Coach, Mother, Trainer, Lecturer and Cook. For more information about her interests you can visit her website www.emma-ryan-coach.com