A question we often get asked here at Licence To Live is, “How can I be more positive?”
Life can throw a lot of curve balls at you, some of which are amazing, life changing experiences, others which make you feel like floating up a certain creek without a paddle.
The truth about a positive mindset is this - there is no quick fix. Sorry, it’s true. There is no magic tablet, no perfect formula, no mysterious potion that will make you feel more positive and improve your mindset.
It takes cultivating.
Indulge me here and take a moment to imagine that your mind is like a garden, with you as it’s gardener. What you plant and nurture in your garden will grow. If you plant seeds of self-doubt and anxiety and then cultivate that, what do you think will grow? Likewise, if you plant small seeds of confidence and self-worth and spend time watering it; what will the outcome be?
What would you like your garden to look like?
When I think of the garden in my mind I imagine it being a mass of colour and scents. Bees and insects are drawn to it because it smells so damn good. It has the perfect balance of sun and rain to help every plant I’ve lovingly nurtured to flourish.
The point here is this: I spend time nurturing, cultivating and growing positivity within myself so that I can face what the world throws at me. Let me be very clear on one thing though - I have not always been this way. I used to have a much more negative mindset. I was an ‘I can’t’ person, full of self-doubt and limiting beliefs. It has taken time, effort and perseverance to cultivate a positive mindset. That time and effort has been a worthwhile investment though, as I now feel stronger, more resilient and oh-so-capable.
So, how is it done?
Here are 5 Tips for developing a more positive mindset. Actually, before the tips (I like to build suspense), let me make it clear that this is not an exhaustive list. We could be here forever if I tried to do that. These are 5 of the things that have helped me to create a more positive mindset for myself. Some I made an effort to try, some came naturally to me. However, all of them have made an impact. Read on...
Get off Facebook. Seriously, how much of your time are you spending on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or one of the many other social media giants that are out there? A few months ago I realised I was spending far too much of my time procrastinating on Facebook and Instagram (my go-to social networking drugs of choice). Not only was a feeling negative because I was annoyed with myself for wasting so much time, I was negative because everyone else seemed to living such amazing lives! It felt awful! But the truth is this, the content people put on these outlets is only a snapshot of their lives. It’s not the whole picture.
Tip: Try cutting down your time on social media. One good way of doing this is deliberately leaving your phone in another room. Alternatively, you could go cold turkey and delete the apps off your phone entirely.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others. This links in with no. 1 to a certain extent. We have a habit of looking at other people's’ lives through rose tinted glasses, imagining that they have it better than us. We compare ourselves to people with different jobs, houses, cars, relationships, money. We do it so quickly and it can make us feel like crap. Again, like with no. 1, you’re comparing yourself to a tiny aspect of someone’s life. If you had what they had, would it feel as amazing as you imagine? Would it change everything that you’ve already got, including the great stuff? There’s no such thing as a free ride, there’ll always be a catch. The person with more money probably works longer hours, spending less time with family. The guy with the flash car might be crushed under the weight of finance. You don’t know.
Tip: Remember what you have, not what you don’t have. If you are thankful for what you have, you’ll always have more. If you focus too much on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.
3. Express Gratitude. This flows straight out of what I’ve just said. If you focus on what you have and are grateful for it, you will feel fulfilled. It is impossible to be grateful and angry at the same time. It is impossible to feel grateful and feel negative at the same time. They’re incompatible.
Tip: Spend time every morning thinking about what you’re grateful for. If you enjoy writing, start a gratitude journal. Personally I like to express gratitude whilst I’m getting ready in the morning. I take time to think about what I’m grateful for whilst I’m looking at myself in the mirror. It gives me a chance to really acknowledge what I’m feeling.
4. Meditation. I’m not going to spend too long talking about meditation, it’s a big subject and I’m no expert. What I will say is this: since meditating every morning, just for 10 minutes whilst I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, I’ve noticed a difference in my ability to cope with stress. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is willing to give it a try. Forget Flower Power and hippies, meditation is an amazing thing.
Tip: A really good app to start with is Headspace. It’s free to download and gives you 10-minute long guided meditation sessions. It’s a great place to start.
5. Exercise. Now I tell you this as a self-confessed sofa lover: exercise is a must for a positive mindset. Just google it and you’ll see the positive side effects exercise has on your mood. Regular exercise will help improve your mood, ward of anxiety and helps to improve your sleep. I notice a real difference in my mindset when I don’t exercise. We’ve been taught to think of exercise purely in terms of fitness. Whilst fitness is really important, exercise is about more than just how healthy your heart is and your muscle mass (whatever that is), it’s about overall wellbeing. Try not to think of exercise as your nemesis, think of it as a tool that will improve your mood.
Tip: Doing exercise does not mean you have to suddenly become a gym bunny. Going for walks with a friend, parking on the other side of the car park so there’s further to talk, taking the stairs - all of these would be a good start.
If you do want to go to the gym, start small. Tell yourself you’re just going for 15 minutes. I can guarantee you you’ll be surprised when you end up staying for half an hour or more. That’s how I trick myself to get my exercise done.
So, there you have it, 5 tips that can help get you on the path to a more positive mindset. There’s many more I’d like to share with you (originally this blog was called 10 Tips, not 5!) but they can wait for another day. I think 5 is a great place to start. If you can implement some of these, imagine how much more positive you could feel in just a short space of time?
I’d really love to hear how you’re getting on with these! Please do get in touch with any feedback, what’s working, what’s not, any further tips - everything and anything, I want to hear it! And if you like what you've read and think someone else could benefit from it, give it a share and spread the positivity further!