You have read it many times, “Your life will improve if you develop a positive attitude.” Perhaps. The trouble is that we all dwell in the real world, where life is made up of a whole spectrum of events, actions, thoughts, brain chemistry, people, tasks, media, and so forth. We’re bombarded with polarized influences, from all directions, including our own thoughts.
Sure we can change our thinking temporarily, and with good results, but pretty soon the world intrudes and ‘reality’ takes over again, so that we bounce around from happy to sad, from joyful to neutral to angry all the time. It’s the human experience.
It’s almost impossible to keep up those positive thoughts, and then we feel guilty and miserable when we fail. Deep inside we know we are meant to be mostly happy, almost always positive, and have a great relationship with the world, so why is it so hard? Here are four steps to help train yourself to have a positive attitude.
1. You Are Where You Are
The first step in a permanent move toward a positive attitude is to accept that whatever you are thinking and feeling at any given time is fine. It’s okay to be right where you are, even if you are in despair. Even if your circumstances are as bad as they can get. You are where you are, so stop judging yourself. Say, “I feel how I feel, and I’m okay with that for now.” See how that little voice that nags you that you are wrong to be feeling like this immediately shuts up. This short process allows to you be at peace right now. Do this whenever you need to throughout your life. You are giving yourself the gift of serenity.
2. Give Up Worrying
Worry is the ‘thought and word’ expression of fear. It’s that simple. When you are worried, fear is in command. We fear when we think we can’t control the outcome. We visualize the worst. We believe things will go wrong, and we can’t put them right. We feel like victims. Worry equals powerlessness.
So here you are in this situation which is causing you to feel worried. Think back to some other problems and adverse conditions you experienced in the past. Are they still active in your present? Did they eventually resolve themselves? Do you even give them much thought? Mostly your answers to those questions will be no, yes and no. Then focus right back on the here and now. In this very still, quiet moment, is there anything wrong? Right in this split second – is there plenty of air to breathe? Okay, so right now, all is well. Breathe out and feel relief.
Know this: it doesn’t matter how much energy you waste on worrying, you cannot make it right. In fact, worrying itself may have an adverse impact on the outcome.
Your step here is to recognize you are in a state of anxiety (fear), accept it’s okay to feel like this for now, but resolve to change that in the next few minutes.
3. Change Your Thoughts – One at a Time
When you accept all your emotions, positive or negative, as valid expressions of who you are, you can begin to move slowly and gently to a higher level. It doesn’t matter if you can only move from fear to misery. That’s fine. And you may slip backward again, and that’s okay too. While you are in depths of emotional pain, do your best to find a small thought that is one step to a better feeling. Try a deep breath in, then out. Sigh out the pain. Remember that it’s just fine to feel these emotions – they are perfectly natural and acceptable.
You might need an external prop to aid your step up. Look around you. There is bound to be something that lifts your heart, even momentarily. How about grabbing yourself a mug of coffee? Stroke the cat. Glance at your favorite photograph or picture. Look out of the window. Find something externally that is better than your inner feeling. This leads you to step four – appreciation.
4. Feel Appreciation
Appreciation is a wonderful state. You can use appreciation to move yourself up to the next level of emotional well-being any time you like. You cannot feel fear at the same time as appreciation. Try it. It’s not possible. Appreciation is better than gratitude; it’s on the same level as love. The great thing is, you can feel appreciation from the worst feeling place and experience immediate relief.
To feel appreciation means focusing your attention on something and thinking warm thoughts about it. It encompasses gratitude, but it is more than that. Give it a go. Look at a loved object, pet or person and allow warm thoughts about it/them to fill your being. Think about how important they are to you, how much you love them being in your life, how useful, reliable, beautiful, loving, funny, sweet they are – pick your own positive adjectives.
Do you see how filling your heart with appreciation displaces the lower emotions? You cannot be in intense negativity and appreciation at the same time. A habit of gratitude is a gift for the rest of your life – it is the easiest way to cultivate a positive attitude.
So there it is. We’re not saying you have to be shouting with elation regularly. It’s not possible for someone to be joyfully positive all the time – and you wouldn’t want to be like that because being a human being means experiencing the whole spectrum of emotion. However, it’s entirely possible to be able to control and improve the way you feel by using our suggestions to cultivate a positive attitude. Once you master these very simple techniques, you will have given yourself the tools to live a truly happy life – forever – whatever happens along the way.