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HOW we react to the things life throws at us can have a major impact on our lives. Studies by the National Institutes of Health, Johns-Hopkins University and others* have shown that keeping a positive perspective has shown to improve aspects of mental and physical health, our relationships– even our earning potential! Sometimes, though, it seems like the world goes out of its way to bring us down. If you practice the following five strategies, they can take you a long way toward a more positive AND realistic outlook, and help you reap the benefits of some of those byproducts.

Lessons Learned

We’ve all made mistakes and had bad experiences in life. It’s part of being human. But we have a choice: we can wallow in self-pity or we can decide to find the positives in the form of lessons learned. Even if this isn’t our fault, there are usually decisions we made that put us in the position where this could happen. Write down 10 ways we can make sure we don’t end up in this position again. If that involves making new connections or learning about a subject, make a plan to do it… and DO it. 

 

Practice Gratitude

The media throws lots of negatives at us, 24/7. It’s easy to start to believe that those negatives make up most of our reality. But they don’t. Those negatives are sent on purpose because they make you scared or angry so they get you in a state where you’re more likely to do what their advertisers want you to do. You can guard yourself against the barrage of negativity by practicing Gratitude. 

Gratitude is intentionally expressing how grateful you are for things in your life. Start with the simple and the obvious. “I’m grateful I woke up this morning, instead of the alternative.” Write it down. Tomorrow, write that down and ad another thing. “I’m grateful I had a bed to sleep in.” Every day add at least one new thing to your list, but feel free to add more. Branch out to different categories: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Mental and Social things. Be grateful for what you have, what you get to do and what you are. Be grateful for the opportunities you see on the horizon, and for the adventure of trying to seize those opportunities. Be grateful for the lessons you learn from the obstacles and setbacks that get in your way. 

 

Help Others

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” –Gandhi

If you’re looking for an easy way to see the positive in the world… start putting it out there yourself. When you help others– even in small ways– just for the sake of helping, without seeking anything in return, you get something anyway. Knowing that you have helped another human being shows you that you  can affect change in someone’s life. At the same time, knowing that there is definitely at least on person who is acting in a positive way for the benefit of others– even if it’s you– makes it easier to see the humanity in others. Plus, who knows who is seeing what you’re doing and will decided to follow your example down the road. 

 

Take Care of Yourself

So many simple things affect your outlook on life. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating nutritious foods. These things impact your biochemistry… the foundation of mental and emotional health. Lack of sleep, dehydration and malnourishment can have dramatic impacts on the brain’s chemistry, and thus, the brain’s ability to function properly.

 

Make a Change

If something is causing you pain that is creeping out into other areas of your life, making a change in that area can improve your outlook in other areas. Maybe it’s a relationship or a job, a habit… or maybe just an aspect of your appearance: if making one simple change can impact your life on multiple levels, then it’s probably worth considering. 

What do you think? Are gratitude, learning from experience, helping someone, getting real about your own wellbeing and making a change things that you think can make a difference in your own outlook? What are some positive things you can do, learn, change or appreciate? What would your life look like if those were things you did on a regular basis? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

[* NIH, Johns-Hopkins, University of Minnesota]