There is a lot of power to be had in positivity, yet many of us seem to love dwelling in the negative. We focus on what's bothering us, what we wish we had, and how there is seemingly nothing we can do to change our circumstances.
Well here's the good news: there is always something we can do. The challenging thing is that it's up to us to find the motivation, strength, and faith (or anything else required) to do it. I truly believe that change starts within, and I need look no further than my own life to see concrete examples of how internal changes are the necessary starting point for both internal and external improvements.
Here are 8 simple (and sometimes commonsensical) exercises that can help you get out of a rut and stay on the positive side of the spectrum:
1. Meditate/ Quiet Your Mind Daily
I know that meditation gets thrown around a lot these days, but I swear it's for a good reason. I added "Quiet Your Mind" to this exercise because that is the element of meditation that I personally feel is particularly important. We live in a world obsessed with distraction, so much so that many of us often freak out in anxiety or boredom within minutes of having any quiet time to ourselves.
It may seem scary or boring at first, but the more you practice it, the more likely you are to enjoy and even look forward to meditation. I find that through meditation you can assert control over your mind and the incessant thoughts that constantly demand your attention - you run the show here, not your thoughts - ultimately allowing you to dictate whether you operate in a positive frame of mind of not.
2. Get Enough Sleep
It's hard to imagine classifying sleep as an exercise, but I'm pretty sure for all of us it's the one that is mentally the easiest to commit to, yet many of us still struggle to value it. It's while we sleep that our body rejuvenates and re-energizes itself from the trials and tribulations of the previous day. Without adequate rest it's hard to imagine your body and mind will have much gusto to look at things as the glass half full.
The amount of sleep that we require is certainly arguable, but the best gauge is to observe your own body. Try different sleep patterns and amounts and see which cycle your body responds to best. Our busy lives may make getting enough sleep difficult to do at times, but it may just require being the "uncool" kid who calls it a night earlier than the rest, to make sure tomorrow isn't a negative write-off.
3. Try Out Some Positive Affirmations
Believe me, I was - and at times still can be - as skeptical as anyone when it comes to the idea of saying positive affirmations, but I have to admit that in many instances they really have helped. Positive affirmations can take many forms, but in general they are the proclaiming of positive, good, or empowering thoughts to remind yourself of the better things in life and what you are capable of.
My mind will often try to make me feel like an idiot in the midst of doing them, but it's that type of self-defeating mind story that I am trying to overcome in the first place, so f*$% it.
4. Opt To Eat As Healthy As Possible
This one certainly falls under the "common sense" bracket, but it's worth mentioning nonetheless since it seems to be the one so many of us regularly neglect. Food is the fuel that drives us, and the kind of energy we need to stay awake and positive does not come from sugar and preservatives.
Much like when assessing the ideal sleep cycle for you, I encourage you to once again observe how your body feels after every meal you consume. You may be adjusted to experiencing the post-lunch-itis, but that doesn't mean that it has to be there or is normal. Food, believe it or not, can actually help us feel better and more energized when chosen consciously.
5. Connect & Communicate With Other People
There are over 7 billion of us on this planet, yet many of us choose to spend the majority of our lives communicating with only ourselves and perhaps a handful of others. Face-to-face connection, especially when both parties choose to be present in the conversation, can be a wonderfully uplifting exercise to practice daily. We all have our own unique body of experience and have the potential to assist one another through tough times.
Find yourself surrounded by a bunch of Negative Nancies and Pessimistic Peters? Talk to someone you don't know or even do a good deed for a stranger. There were a couple of times earlier this year where buying lunch for a homeless person was just the pick-me-up I needed to get me back on the right track.
I say the term journalling and I'm sure many of you immediately think, "Dear Diary, today Amanda looked at me and it made me feel special inside. I think I love her." As much as this certainly constitutes a form of journalling, don't let this be the reason you cast aside writing down your feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
Several other CE team members and I have made a habit out of regular journalling and have found that it contributes significantly to clarity, motivation, and positive action. The key is to journal without judgement. Start by just writing out anything that comes to mind. The more you get into the habit the more likely you are to use it in ways that can give you a greater appreciation for life.
7. Be Physically Active
For many of us that work an office job, the naturally occurring extent of daily physical actively we engage in is the walk to and from our car in the parking lot. As you probably would guess, this isn't exactly worth classifying as a healthy and active life.
As someone who has always lived a relatively active life, even more so in recent years, I find physical activity to be a wonderful way to help promote positive feelings. What I love about physical activity is that it engages you externally, often completely disengaging you from the internal ramble of your mind, which in most cases is the source or temptation for negative thoughts.
8. Make Time For The Things You Love
We all have things that we love to do. Whether they be as simple as spending time with pets or as specific as writing investigative journalism pieces, we all have passions. And guess what? Engaging these passions regularly is quite possibly the most powerful tool to both being positive and feeling good about yourself.
So what are you waiting for and what are you doing instead? Even if the majority of your day is filled with necessities such as work, school, and meal preparation, we all still have time to do at least some of the things we love.