Tag Archives | positive attitude

Clean Your Windows for a Better Outlook

Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed recently, it’s that negativity seems to be a trend that’s quickly rising in popularity. I see it daily on the Internet, I hear it at my local grocery store, I listen to it on the radio and watch it on television. I rarely even turn on my TV, but when I do, I want to watch something funny and lighthearted at the end of my work day. Instead, I click from channel to channel, only to find more and more men and women berating eachother, talking badly about themselves, and having repeated pity parties.

I’ve been mulling this over for awhile, but I am finally able to put it into words: Precisely when did it become cool to be a drag?

When I check to see what’s new on Facebook, I’m bombarded with negative and self-depricating status updates that are filled with unfulfilled dreams, complaints about traffic, sarcastic and bitter comments about parenthood.

I see the same things in my real life, too.  I regularly tell my family and close friends to speak more highly of themselves. What we say and think about ourselves becomes our truth.

If you’re looking out at the world through dirty windows, nothing looks pretty, but if you take some time and make those windows shine, suddenly everything will sparkle.

If your view of yourself is distorted, put on a pair of rose-colored glasses from the Dollar Store for awhile and see if they help.  At the very least, they’ll make you giggle when you look in the mirror.

Here are a few other things you can do to try to make a shift toward a better outlook in your everyday interactions:

  • Take an honest look at your negativity. Own up to it, and see if you can figure out where it is coming from.
  • Try to recognize that being negative can have a real impact on those around you. You may be making yourself unlikeable.
  • Write down your negative thoughts, like, “Now that she did that, she is dead to me.” Turn it around into something like “All friends have disagreements.  I’m sure we can work it out.”
  • When you have a negative thought, turn the images in your head into a funny cartoon. Make it absurdly over-the-top so that you can’t help but recognize how silly your original negative thought was.
  • Any time a negative thought enters your mind, close your eyes for a moment and imagine that thought inside of a giant bubble.  Exhale, blowing that bubble, and the negative thought, far away.
  • Practice positive self-talk every day. Do this by reminding yourself what you are good at, what you do like about yourself, and repeating a positive mantra while you look in the mirror.
  • Smile at strangers. Say thank you more often. Being friendly and smiling are easy ways to make you feel better about yourself and your life.
  • Do your best not to spend too much time with other people who live in houses with dirty windows (especially if they refuse to clean them).

Taking a fresh look at life (and yourself) can be so uplifting that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.  I guarantee you’ll keep your windows streak-free once you realize how great the world looks without all of that unsightly dirt getting in the way.



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The Heart of Mindfulness is All in Your Approach

Photo courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis

The goal of this week’s Mindful Monday post is simple: we’re going back to the basics.

Many, many times, even the most dedicated person can lose sight of his or her goal(s) of living mindfully, making it easy to slip back into a harried, stress-filled way of living. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to us by taking the time now to review some basic mindfulness concepts.

While mindfulness is at the heart of Buddhist meditation, it has nothing to do with Buddhism and everything to do with paying attention. The words for mind and heart are essentially the same in many Asian languages.

Mindfulness = Heartfulness

Heartfulness is the act of showing your mind and body affection by paying attention to the moments of your life on purpose, in the now, and without judgment.

Some people get mindfulness and awareness confused.

For example – being aware that you are eating is not the same as eating mindfully. Many people eat while talking, texting, watching television, reading, or a myriad of other distracting actions.  On some level, you are ‘aware’ that food is going into your mouth, but you will never fully connect with the experience unless you are mindfully paying attention to all of the sensations involved in eating and your reactions to them.

That concept carries through to everything you do in your life: shopping, sight-seeing, interacting with your children, having conversations, seeing a play, taking a drive, even sitting still in the silence of your living room!

It’s the attitude you have when approaching activities that will make all the difference in how deeply you connect with them. Through practicing regular mindfulness, you’ll be able to live a much more fulfilling, happy life. Let’s review the key attitudes of mindfulness:

Kindness toward yourself as you become more aware of your thoughts and reactions
Acceptance of how you feel, right now
Curiosity about your feelings toward everything that you experience
Patience for expert mindfulness to develop
Go with the flow of your reactions to everything you are experiencing. Don’t force anything.
Trust your mind and your inner strength to guide you toward a more enlightened life.
Non-judging attitude toward good or bad experiences – simply observe.
Non-striving approach to every moment -rather than look forward to a future moment, stay in this moment and allow it to completely unfold for what it is.
Open-mindedness - Everything that you encounter has so many possibilities as long as you are open to them.

If it seems like too much to tackle all at once, try to adopt one of the above attitudes into your life at a time until you feel you have mastered it.  Then you can progressively practice all of the mindful attitudes, one by one.  Believe me, you WILL feel your reactions to life begin to shift in a very positive direction.

Next week’s Mindful Monday will be dedicated to reviewing the steps to successful Mindful Meditation.



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How to Kick Life’s Buzzkills to the Curb

Photo courtesy of DaveAustria.com

Early in my third decade of life, I really started ‘coming into my own,’ as they say. In my twenties, I scoffed if someone suggested that I wouldn’t be fully self-aware and self-confident for another ten years. I thought I knew everything back then, but it’s true that a powerful shift begins right around the age of thirty. It’s mostly common sense, though, and can be chalked up to simply getting wiser with experience.

Regardless of the reason, as the years continue to fly by, my tolerance level for nonsense continues to drop. I believe the young people today would define my attitude as living “drama-free.”

I suppose the definition of ‘drama’ is different for everyone, but as we used to say in the 90s, it’s basically when someone puts a ‘major buzz kill’ on your mood.  Now that you are starting to find a direct path to being high on life, don’t let the following undesirable personality-types kill your mojo any longer:

  1.  The Cray Cray – This person is constantly full of wildly swinging emotions and usually has a dangerous potential for big blowouts. They may seem delusional and irrational.
  2.  The Negative Nancy – If you have a friend who is a constant whiner and always harps on the bad points of everything, maybe it’s time to tell them to cry a river somewhere else.
  3.  The Busybody - This is someone who appears to have no life of her own, giving her an excess amount of time to monitor and judge your every move.
  4.  The Emotional Drunk - All hell breaks loose when this person has one too many  drinks.  Sensibilities are lost right along with inhibitions, leading to ’dramatic’ professions, confessions, and sober tension the next day.
  5.  The Time Suck – Body language and social cues mean nothing to a time vampire. They show little consideration for anyone else’s time but their own, and if they get you cornered, or stuck on the phone, you can wave bye-bye to your productivity.
  6.  The Truthfully Challenged – Getting caught in a web of lies is what these people do religiously. For some, compulsive lying can be a very real mental disorder.
  7.  The Bitter Pill – Someone who’s perpetually in a bad mood due to what they consider a series of negative life events aimed at them personally can be a bit tough to swallow.
  8.  The Jealous Janet – They may display their envy in a variety of ways, like downplaying your successes, spreading rumors, or making snarky comments like, “Must be nice.”
  9.  The Braggart -With a constant need to impress, these name-droppers will never end up impressing anyone until they stop trying so hard.
  10.  The Absentee – Known in the 90s as a ‘flake’, this person often commits to things but doesn’t show up or follow through. This group also includes those who constantly ‘Tardy for the Party.”
  11.  The Close-Minded Fool- Completely unreceptive to new or different ideas and opinions, this person is very ‘un-fun’ to have a meaningful conversation with.
  12.  The Control Freak – Wanting to dominate every situation, a control freak will try to manipulate you until you relinquish all power in the relationship.
  13.  The Two-Face – Someone who expends all extra energy discussing the faults of others will not only have a negative effect on your mood, but is guaranteed to be talking behind your back, too.

Of course, nobody’s perfect, and maybe someone from the above list is on the same journey toward happiness that you are.  If that’s the case, they’ll be receptive to making changes in their behavior that are good for them and you.  Otherwise, it is most definitely time to move forward and ’kick them to the curb.’

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12 Things That Could be Making Your Life a Living Hell (So Stop Doing Them!)

Photo courtesy of Evil Erin

Without even being aware of it, many of us engage in negative behaviors that can make finding true happiness difficult, if not impossible. If you practice any of the following habits, put an end to them as soon as you possibly can!

  1. Looking for a scapegoat  
    I hear people playing the blame game constantly. Trust me, once you become ok with taking the blame, a weight will lift. Taking the blame means taking responsibility, and that can only lead you to good places.
  2. Caring so much about what others think of you
    Caring too much about what others think of us stems from a lack of self-love. Without self-love, we look to others for approval. Love yourself, and no one else has to!
  3. Putting yourself down
    Stop leading with your flaws. Many of us point out what is “wrong” with us because we don’t want to give others the power to talk behind our backs. Start embracing your true self, and your perceived flaws may turn into something you love.
  4. Trash talking others behind their backs
    I’m not saying that all gossip is bad, but be mindful of spreading negative rumors. First, they may or may not be true, and they can be extremely hurtful. Also, constantly spitting vitriol puts you in a negative frame of mind, and will make you look like a bad person.
  5. Worrying about things you can’t control
    This was difficult for me, and I underwent years of therapy to learn how to stop worrying unnecessarily. Designate a time each day as your ‘Worry Window’. All worrying must be done within that time frame. If worries pop up at other times, try to postpone thinking about them. Teach yourself to accept uncertainty. Practice mindfulness to keep your attention focused on the present.
  6. Yelling
    Yelling does nothing for your overall sense of peace and happiness, not to mention the effect it has on the people you are yelling at. Speaking in a soft tone has been proven to be much more effective at getting what you want, anyway.
  7. Trying to be something you’re not
    Don’t get me wrong – it’s important to always strive for small improvements in yourself, but hold on to who you are at your core. Changing into a completely different person is never the answer.
  8. Being so self-centered
    Make it a practice to put yourself in others’ shoes regularly. Expecting everything to go your way will only make you frustrated and will earn you the reputation of a self-absorbed egoist.
  9. Always needing to be right
    No one can be right all of the time. And remember, if you keep insisting that you’re right; you’re basically telling others that they’re always wrong.
  10. Complaining
    Instead of complaining, figure out what is bothering you and see what you can do to fix the situation.
  11. Unrealistic expectations
    Don’t stop pushing yourself to achieve your goals, but keep your ambitions realistic so you don’t face insurmountable obstacles that could deter you.
  12. Asking why
    Instead of asking “Why did this happen to me?” or “Why can’t anything ever go right in my life?” –  change it around, and ask “Why not?”
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Just How Far Will Flattery Get You?

Photo courtesy of lover-of-life
Just when I thought the art of flattery was dead, I got a gushing e-mail from a client complimenting some work I recently completed on a project for him. When I realized that he took actual time out of his work day to deliberately write me an email for the sole reason of giving me a virtual high five, I was so moved that it made me stop and think: did kudos go out of style when Myspace did?

If you think about it, in our daily lives, whether at work or at home, compliments are kind of hard to come by these days. Bosses, clients, coworkers and sometimes even family members are quick to point out our flaws and shortcomings, but seem less likely to let us know when we’re rocking it. According to a recent survey that I just found, one out of eight women said that they had not received a compliment in the past three months. Not one single compliment in ninety days! Things are dire, dear readers.

As human beings, we need to be told that we’re doing a good job. Sure, we get a paycheck every week, but sometimes we aren’t sure if that means we’re a stellar employee or because they HAVE to pay us. We all need to hear that we are appreciated, and that what we do makes someone else’s life easier, right? Hearing that we are appreciated and needed encourages us to perform even better, and gives us the motivation to hone our skills even further.

The problem may be that some adults are uncomfortable with receiving compliments, which tends to give others less inclination to praise them. However, even if someone repeatedly brushes off your flattery, rest assured that they are secretly internalizing those positive comments and their self-esteem is getting a boost. You can make someone’s entire week with just a few small words. Imagine that! You have the power to change someone’s WEEK from bad to good with one sentence and a smile!

Naturally, sometimes in the garden of life we encounter a few thorns that need to be tamed or pruned a bit so that they do more good than harm. But when life gives us roses, be sure to point out how lovely they are, and how sweetly fragrant they smell. You might see them bloom even bigger, right before your eyes.

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How to Turn Your Failures Into Little Victories

Photo courtesy of Jes

Whenever we set out to better ourselves – whether it’s in starting a new business or beginning a new personal fitness regime – there are various ways to increase the likelihood of success. I’ve already discussed some of these techniques in past articles so I won’t go into them now, but one thing that hasn’t really been touched on is how to deal with failure. Unless you’re superhuman, failure is going to occur at some point in your life, and unless you know how to learn from it, you run the risk of making the same mistakes over and over again.

As a person who likes to start a lot of projects, I’m no stranger to failure. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’ve failed almost as many things as I’ve succeeded at in my life. But in each of these cases, I came out of my experience far better off than when I began, simply because I had learned something about myself in the process and why I had failed. In turn, this helped me to prevent the same problems from occurring the next time I tried something new, and so I’m thankful for these mistakes.

The best way to deal with any kind of failure is to accept it as a learning experience so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again in your future endeavors. Treating each new venture as an experiment, where the outcome could be what you originally intended but could also be something else entirely, is a good way to prepare yourself for failure without expecting it.

The next time you encounter failure, try to understand the reasons behind why things didn’t go exactly to plan. If you can recognize the decisions that were made that caused you to fail, you’ll be far more prepared to deal with problems in the future and increase your ability to succeed.

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How to Redefine Positive Thinking for Living in the Real World

Positive Attitude
Image courtesy of Eric Chan

Ask any motivational speaker what the keys to success are, and I promise you the words “positive attitude” will be in there somewhere.

Which is great, and I fully agree, but with all the life-improvement programs out there promising magical results if you just think happy thoughts for long enough, I think many people misinterpret what a positive attitude really is, and then get frustrated when their misinterpretation ends up backfiring on them.

At one time or another, we’ve all been that person – the one who keeps pretending everything is fine as their hard work burns to the ground around them. The theory behind such behavior: “as long as I stay true to my positive attitude, everything will be okay.”

But… that’s not a positive attitude. That’s denial. And ignoring problems is almost never the way to fix them, though I see people doing it all the time and calling it their “positive attitude.” And then when their projects fail, they claim they tried the whole positive attitude thing and it turned out to be a load of crap.

Telling yourself that everything in your world will be amazing all the time is not only unrealistic, it can actually keep you from reaching your goals. Pasting on a fake smile and powering through as if nothing’s ever wrong is not what having a positive attitude is about.

A better path to attainable progress is to be optimistic about the overall picture, but still recognize issues when they arise. Prepare yourself for the fact that problems will occur, and accept that as part of the growth process. Throwing your arms up in the air and saying, “see, I knew positive thinking was too good to be true” doesn’t help. Neither does smiling and pretending that positive thinking fixes everything. Instead, try taking the more empowering standpoint of accepting that you’ve derailed, and reminding yourself that you are capable of figuring out what the solution is. Then you can take the appropriate actions to get yourself back on track and actually feel positive about it.

We all want to move forward with our lives, but we also have to accept that progress is rarely linear. Not only is it okay to experience setbacks, it’s a great opportunity to learn from negative experiences and prove to yourself that you really can recover from anything.

If you’ve got something that’s blocking you at the moment and you’re either wallowing in frustration or trying to drown it in positive thoughts, take a few minutes today to sit down and actually work through the issue (if you have an iPad, Unstuck is a great app to help with this). What are your options for moving forward? What can you do to keep this problem from happening again in the future? Use a positive attitude not as a magic wand, but as a tool to deconstruct obstacles and build something stronger.

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