Tag Archives | positive thinking

10 Things to be Thankful for Before it’s Too Late

Photo courtesy of Cornelia Kopp

Although Thanksgiving day isn’t here yet, there are many things that we should be thankful for every day of our lives. Sometimes we forget to appreciate what we consider to be the ‘little things’, and by the time we realize their importance, it’s far too late. Take the time now to get into the habit of being cognizant of everything and everyone that makes your life worth living.

Part of being thankful is being aware, and the most effective way to be aware of everything around you is to live mindfully. Mindful living ensures that you don’t miss all of the wonderful things in your life that are happening to you every day. You know the saying, “stop and smell the roses?” Well as it turns out, you really should.

Here are 10 other things that many of us forget to appreciate.   See if you can expand this list each day by mindfully noticing all of the good things that surround you.

  1.  You are the thing that you should be most thankful for.  Be mindful of yourself first, and all other relationships become instantly that much better.
  2.  Appreciate all of the difficult things you’ve made it through. Because of those hurdles, you’re that much stronger, smarter and more capable.
  3.  Enjoy your children every single day.  The more you enjoy them, the more they will enjoy you – guaranteed. When your children become adults, the bonds you create with them now will turn into lifelong friendships. This can be applied to nieces and nephews, too!
  4. Love the shape of your body. Many people spend such a wasted amount of time dieting and cursing the image they see in the mirror. The better choice is embracing the body you’ve  been given and appreciating all of the good things about it. Every body is different and there is beauty to be found in each one.  You just have to be looking for the beauty instead of the flaws.
  5. Be thankful for your enemies.  They teach you valuable lessons – what not to do, how not to act, and why your friends are so amazing (and that you should be extra thankful for them!)
  6.  Look around and be grateful for this earth that we live on.  It is filled with beauty, life, and vivid colors in more areas than not.  Take time to travel to some of the most breathtaking places on earth. And don’t forget to appreciate the nature that is in your own backyard, which sometimes goes blindly unnoticed.
  7.  Remember to appreciate your ability to eat food and all that it brings to your life – from the delicious experience of eating it to the strength and nutrition it delivers to your body.
  8.  Make sure that you are not only thankful for your soulmate, but that you show him or her how much they mean to you.  If you haven’t found your soulmate yet, be thankful for your friends for being your constant companions.
  9. Be grateful for your health as you journey through this life. If you do live with pain or disease, be thankful that you live in a time of advanced medicine so that you can exist in a much higher degree of comfort than many people in the past.
  10. When is the last time you were thankful for your senses? Without them, you couldn’t experience the beauty and the brilliance of everything else on this list.

Make every day a day of thanks. Appreciating the good things in your life means that you’re really noticing them, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.

 

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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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Big Picture Healing: Beating Depression the Old Fashioned Way

Photo courtesy of Suzan Marie

Lifestyles have evolved dramatically in the past 12,000 years. During the Stone Age, everyone lived in a hunter-gatherer tribe, engaging in hard work  outdoors, eating nutritious diets, and getting constant social contact. Their physically active lives meant that they got an average of ten hours of quality sleep every night.

Fast forward to today’s Modern Age. Now millions of people lead sedentary lives, spending many hours each day inside windowless cubicles completing mind-numbingly endless tasks. Meals consist of fast food, which is low in nutrition and high in saturated fat.  Many people are living life at a frantic pace, yet don’t sleep nearly enough – getting an average of only six hours a night.

Although lifestyles have changed drastically, the human genome has remained the same, and the effects of our poorly nourished, inactive, isolated, demanding, and insomnia-ridden lives are proving to be quite catastrophic to our physical and mental health. In contrast, the few hunter-gatherer tribes still in existence are healthy, strong, fit, and most importantly, happy.

Because of the disconnect between our environment and our physical and emotional requirements, a huge number of people are now dealing with depression and anxiety. In fact, my own depression is what started me on my journey toward self-fulfillment. Luckily, it has been proven recently that the adult human brain is changeable, as opposed to the previously held belief that the brain became fixed somewhere in adolescence.

Many therapists are now putting two and two together. People were happier in the Stone Age! With the new knowledge that the adult brain is malleable, many therapies to overcome depression and anxiety include incorporating some of these ancient habits in order to nudge the brain back toward a penchant for happiness:

  • Get plenty of restorative sleep.
  • Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Alternatively, take 1,500mg of omega-3 daily (fish oil caps).
  • Get at least 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight each day.
  • Aim to spend 90 minutes a week moving your body physically.
  • Connect socially Although the brain thinks the pain of depression is similar to an infection and that we should isolate ourselves from others, what we really need when we’re feeling down is more human interaction.
  • Be cognizant of what those before us have had to overcome, and how small our problems seem in comparison.
  • Accept yourself as you are.

In addition to taking a page from the history books, also try to:

  • Find a healthy escape that will keep you busy on a regular basis.
  • Keep track of your mood. Try to identify triggers for your depressed times.
  • Repeat positive affirmations to bouy your self-confidence.
  • Avoid labeling yourself as “depressed.” Labels often stick and can be self-fulfilling. Constantly reminding yourself that you are a “depressed person” will likely only make you more depressed. Although depression is very real and serious, avoid getting bogged down by what can seem like a permanent sentence.
  • Remind yourself that “this too shall pass.” As it turns out, my grandma was right.
  • Take a look at the big picture. As evidenced when Voyager 1 took the now famous photograph Pale Blue Dot, everything seems much smaller and less significant with a little distance and perspective.

Once you’ve gained the appropriate perspective and shifted your lifestyle so that it fulfills your needs, your brain should start to react accordingly. Combining the above strategies with a visit to your doctor will get you back on the road to happiness.  In order to stay on the right path: continue to respect your body’s needs and always be mindful of the amazing things that do exist in your little speck of the universe.

 

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How Small Changes Can Rejuvenate Your Productivity

flower
Photo courtesy of Theophilos Papadopoulos

We’ve all been there at some point in the past—one day we’re working fine, efficiently, and then the next, without explanation, we discover we can’t work anymore. Writers get writer’s block; artists find they can’t decide where the next brushstroke should go. For whatever reason, something in our brain clicks and we lose that spark that tells us we’re good at what we do.

This condition of ‘being stuck’ is often attributed to feelings of inferiority as a professional. Sometimes the effects can be trivial, lasting mere hours or days, but in worse cases they can lead a person to go years without successfully returning to work, or sometimes giving up their craft altogether.

I’ve been in this situation several times in the past, and it isn’t pleasant. I was frustrated with myself because I just wasn’t feeling motivated to work. So I decided to change things up. Instead of working at home like I was used to, I went out and tried working at a local coffee shop. At first, nothing seemed to change. In fact, I found the new environment distracting. Then over time I started to work again, just a little at first, but enough. Then I returned home, and astonishingly I was able to work more efficiently than I had before. I’d killed my artistic block.

If you really want to get out of your creative rut, I would suggest changing something in your workflow in order to rejuvenate your productivity. Change your environment – go outside, work in park, a coffee shop, wherever. Change your tools – your paints and brushes, your software. Change the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis. Change your hours. Change everything about your workflow if you think it’ll help.

And make the decision to take time off too. Listen to music. Watch movies. Play video games. Read. Study the work of other professionals in your craft. Just because you’re not working at the time doesn’t mean you won’t take something positive away that will benefit your workflow later. Inspiration can be found in absolutely anything, so enjoy yourself while you’re not working.

It’s surprising how a little change can make all the difference to your workflow. If you’re stuck in a rut, try changing something in your day-to-day life and see your productivity flourish.

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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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