Everyone talks about positivity, but I reckon optimism is an even better mindset to aim for.
Positive thoughts are great in the moment, but optimism is *knowing* everything will be OK long term.
There’s a Buddhist quote I love: “Worrying is praying for things you don’t want.” For me, optimism is the antidote.
The thing is, both optimism and positivity take effort. Honestly, if I didn’t put the work in, there’s no way I’d be springing out of bed like the happy pink bunny (or something like that!) I am each morning.
So, for all you negheads who see me smiling and throw shade or sneer, get off your cynical backsides and learn how to manage your emotions and enjoy a happier life too!
(And yeah, in case you’re wondering, that paragraph was entirely tongue-in-cheek 😄).
LEARNING TO CHOOSE
The sad fact is that not many people have been taught now to take control of their feelings and emotions (and yes, for me, they are slightly different things).
Generally speaking, we’re conditioned to sink into our sadness, adopt a victim mentality and use that negative energy to bemoan our situation, instead of creating the positive energy needed to change it.
I reckon this is more prevalent in my home country of good old Blighty than it is in the US, though I might be wrong – feel free to hit me up in those Twitter comments and correct me.
Here in England, being a bit sullen and somewhat of a misery guts is kinda the norm. I like to think we’re getting better, thanks largely to the personal development movement, but it’ll take a while for us to move away from that ‘stiff upper lip’ stereotype.
So, what do I mean about emotions and feelings being different?
Well, for me, an emotion is the kneejerk reaction we have to something, and the feeling is what we are able to choose.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you’ve been really looking forward to a night out with friends but, that very morning, something comes up and the event gets cancelled.
The emotion that hits might be one of sadness, frustration, anger, maybe even rejection. It’s an automatic reaction.
However, we don’t need to sink into that emotion and stay there.
With practice, we can create a habit to take control of our feelings and invite in the ones we want.
In time, we’ll actually start to retrain ourselves to have more positive reactions in the first place.
How? Well, though that initial emotional reaction might be sadness, for instance, we can stop and ask ourselves: “Hold on… how do I *want* to be feeling?”
From there, we can choose a different state and learn to flip our negatives.
FIND THE POSITIVES
If we decide we want to feel happy, and put a bit of work into that, we can find the positives.
We might want to take charge of rearranging our group adventure, so it’s back on the cards for another night.
We might want to relax into having a free evening and use it to treat yourself to some ‘me time’ – maybe cook your favourite meal, read a book, work out, meditate, visit family, even go to the movies.
Out of nowhere, the night is yours, with no demands on your time. Allow yourself to think of things you’d like to do to create that happy state and get into doing just that.
Smile – just that physical action releases positive endorphins.
You can also ask yourself: “How would my best potential self respond to this?”
The more we learn to find positives in situations we’ve previously seen as negatives, the more we’ll retrain our mindset.
Of course, there’s more to it. I have daily and nightly practices that help me to maintain a more optimistic state.
SETTING THE MOOD
Every night, last thing, before I go to sleep, I actively set my mood for the following day – I’ll recite a mantra about being grateful for my hours of sleep, about that time being the perfect amount of hours and minutes my body and mind need to recharge, repair and re-energise themselves, so I’ll wake up feeling awesome and ready to face the day with enthusiasm.
This works on the assumption that the last thought we have before going to sleep will be the first when we wake.
Imagine the impact of going to sleep on negative thoughts: “Oh man! I’m not going to have enough sleep. I’m gonna be wiped in the morning. And I have that meeting to go to I’m dreading. I hate my life!”
Think about the mood that’s gonna create the next morning!
My daily practice doesn’t end there.
I do gratitudes every morning – name five different things I appreciate each day and really feel into them.
Gratitude is absolutely at the centre of all that I do. It’s so, so intrinsic to living a good life.
If I still need an extra boost, I ask myself: “What can I feel enthusiastic and excited about today?” – and I’ll always find something.
If I know I have a challenging situation to face, I’ll play it through, with the best outcome in mind, so I’ll be feeling relaxed, positive and prepared by the time I get to it.
If something happens that upsets my apple cart, I’ll take a bit of time to keep replaying that scenario in my head, but with an outcome I would have preferred. I’ll do this until the ‘negative’ emotion is gone. I might not be able to actually change what happened, but I can sure as hell change the *feelings* by body holds in its memory banks.
You know what else I do? I give each day an intention, and I’ll stick to it. It could be something as simple as being in the moment, serving as many people as I can, spreading joy as much as possible, or making at least five people smile.
Of course, this is just the mindset stuff – living a healthy life, good food, exercise and plenty of water, are all extras.
CREATING YOUR FUTURE
I know the future I want to create. I know why I’m doing it. I’ve created a life where I’m doing the work I love and I’m passionate, determined and driven to make it happen.
That kind of life won’t happen without effort. Your dreams won’t become reality without putting the work in. And living a happy, healthy, productive life isn’t easy without energy – physical, mental and emotional/spiritual energy. They all need a bit of self care and dedication.
One of my greatest teachers, Chris Lüttichau, said anyone could be a ‘two legged’, but to be a human being is a high, high art.
I’m all for the art – it allows me to paint the future I want to live and mould each day as I choose.
How about you?
Until next time,