As I sit in my favorite Starbucks listening to a Spotify playlist, sipping on a hot green tea matcha latte with almond milk (my favorite), I ponder this week’s blog topic. All of my blogs have to do with shifting your mindset to be happier, and this week I shall focus on a few simple things to do each day that require very little effort.
Let’s face it. There are times when we find ourselves in a bit of an “everything sucks” funk. We get kind of moody, short-tempered and start feeling overall negatively about things. We have overblown reactions to minor frustrations because everything just feels irritating. Sound familiar? Not only does it not feel very good, but sometimes it leads to us snapping at people who don’t deserve it, laying on the horn a little too much in traffic, or eating something “comforting” that we later wind up feeling gross about. The funk can go on for hours, days, weeks, months or longer, which at some point it would transition from “funk” to an actual medical illness, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
It’s really not good.
First of all, our health suffers when we stay in a negative state of mind for too long. I am not saying we are all supposed to walk around like robots with no swaying of human emotions, but when we let a pessimistic mood take over for too long, our bodies respond negatively. Negative attitudes lead to chronic stress, which upsets the body’s hormone balance thereby depleting the brain chemicals that are required for happiness and damaging the immune system, according to research compiled here by Karen Lawson, MD.
Chronic stress actually shortens our lives.
Second of all, we are at a total disadvantage when we are in a negative state. We tend to look inward when we are being negative, and we miss out on beauty that is all around us.
Ok, you guys! I am taking a moment in the middle of my blog because as I was writing this sentence, a song started playing on this Spotify playlist called “’Til There Was You” by the Beatles. It’s from their album With the Beatles from 1963, have you ever heard this song?? I have definitely NOT heard this but I just realized that the lyrics Paul McCartney is singing are totally corresponding with the point I am currently making! HA! COINCIDENCE?! I THINK NOT!!
It is going right along with what I am trying to say. Here are some of the lyrics:
There were bells on a hill
But I never heard them ringing
No, I never heard them at all
Till there was you
There were birds in the sky
But I never saw them winging
No, I never saw them at all
Till there was you
I love that this happened. Here is a link to it on Spotify. He’s making the point that he only noticed the beauty around him because this woman improved his mood! It’s actually a really cute little song. (You don’t have to be madly in love to notice the beauty around you, by the way. You just need to improve your mood.)
Ok, back to my regularly scheduled blog.
A third detriment to walking around with a negative mindset is that we are less resilient in times of crisis. If we are so busy reacting badly to small frustrations, when something bad actually happens, we can’t handle it as well because a persistently negative mind is easier to breakdown. When we are in the habit of having a more positive and optimistic mind, things happen and we can experience hard times and have tough emotions and not fall apart, because part of having that mindset is the understanding that hard times really do lead to gaining knowledge and experience that will ultimately make us stronger.
So, here are a few tips I encourage my clients to do to help them begin to move through the world in a more positive way:
1. Be kind. It is part of the human spirit to feel good when we help others. I make a point of volunteering every other week, whether it is preparing food for people who are too sick to leave their homes, volunteering as a mentor for kids, giving blood, or at the local animal shelter helping with adoptions or walking dogs or just sitting with sick animals. It feels good to offer love to people and animals who really need it.
2. Be grateful. There is always something to be thankful for; even the simplest things are so easy to take for granted. In the morning, when you take a shower, just realize how lucky you are to be able to adjust the temperature of the water to be exactly how you like it. Notice how good it smells in there because of the body wash and the shampoo. You have a few moments to yourself to just let that warm water and soap get you nice and clean. And then, you get to dry off with a clean, fluffy towel! Right there, you are off to an amazing start to your day. So many people don’t get to have ANY of that. So, in your next shower, take a deep breath and whisper “thank you” for such an awesome gift.
3. Say something nice to yourself whenever you can. Honestly, I get out of the shower and look in the mirror and I say, “Girl, you are looking SO CUTE today!! Look at those curls, they are ON POINT!!” It makes me laugh and I feel great when I do it. Try it!
4. Breathe. I cannot overstate how important breath is. Like, deep breaths. When I work with clients who are ready to stop smoking, they always say (as I did when I smoked), that cigarettes relax them. What they don’t realize is that when they smoke is the only time they take a deep breath all day! Just taking a few deep breaths will allow you to relax, especially if you inhale deeply and think “inhaling peace,” and then exhale slowly and think, “exhaling tension.
5. Focus on what’s important. You know, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” as the wonderful book written by Richard Carlson states. What you focus on perpetuates. If you want to feel better, focus on things that make you feel good. Focus on what you do well, focus on the people that love you, focus on how beautiful the moon looks. Look for something beautiful any time it occurs to you.
Many studies have concluded that people who make a habit of thinking in more positive and optimistic ways are healthier, happier and have longer lives. So, give these 5 tips a try and let me now how it goes! I love feedback!