The Power of Positive Thinking and Living Each Day With a Grateful Heart.
Does anyone else think it's crazy that it's already November?! This school year has been flying by, but I couldn't be happier that the holiday season is starting to creep up on us AND I couldn't be happier that it's "Be Thankful" Month! That's why today's post is all about living life with a positive mindset and a grateful heart.
We started this blog not only to focus on keeping our bodies healthy with fitness and wholesome foods, but also to focus on keeping our minds healthy. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and with that being said, I'll admit that sometimes I struggle in that department. I can get up at 5:30AM every morning to workout and run no problem, but when it comes to always keeping a positive outlook and being grateful in the midst of the extremely busy life I live, I can have a difficult time. And when physical and mental health are not in balance, it's hard to live a balanced life overall, and that's something I know I personally need to work on. SO that's why today I'll be talking about how being positive and grateful can truly turn your life around and a few of the tactics I use to be more of both. :)
Scientific research has actually shown correlations between having a positive mindset and multiple health benefits. Just by living life with a positive outlook can help you fight depression, strengthen your immune system, recover faster from disease, injuries, and surgeries, and overcome stress and hardships. Along with health benefits, being positive can help you perform better at work, on schoolwork, and even during your workouts! And being grateful goes hand-in-hand with being positive. When you're constantly being thankful for the life that you have and for all of the blessings in your life (even the little things), it's hard not to have a more "glass-half-full" outlook overall. I could go on and on and on about how being positive makes life S-O much better, BUT all that info is useless if you don't know HOW to become more positive. So that's why I've compiled a little list of easy-to-try tactics to help you be more positive (and YES I have to remind myself to practice these tactics as well- I'm right alongside you in this positivity search! hehe).
1. Keep a grateful journal- Each day try to write down at least one thing you are grateful for. Even just jotting it down in your agenda works! (That's what I tend to do because I keep seeing it throughout the day and it reminds me that I have so much to be grateful for). It could be something as simple as the fact that you had a really yummy breakfast before class, or you got to talk on the phone with a friend from home, or you got a better grade than expected on a test. ANYTHING is worth being grateful for. What am I grateful for today? Wild Friends peanut butter. ;) I find that focusing on the small things sometimes helps even more because it reminds me to never take anything for granted, which pairs perfectly with my next tactic.
2. Find joy in the little things- I've found that walking around in a pessimistic mindset is like walking around with a blindfold on- I always miss seeing the little joys that are constantly around me, and instead all I see is the stress. Try getting out of your head and not just thinking about all of the reasons why you're stressed, in a bad mood, etc. and really notice everything that goes on around you and you'll start to see little rays of sunshine everywhere that make you happier. Throughout the day try to deliberately point out in your head all the little joys you see or that happen. Yesterday I really tried practicing this and even before my first class I experiences so many little joys: a beautiful morning run, having enough time to get an almond milk latte before class, holiday cups at Dutch Bros (S-O cute!), and just the immense beauty that is around me on my campus during this time of the year.
3. Surround yourself with positive people- This one is HUGE. Your friends influence you in a such an impactful way and even if we think we are 100% strong in who we are, they can change us and our mindsets without us even really noticing. I'm sure we've all had that one friend who only seems to open their mouth when they are mad, stressed, or annoyed (and are somehow a mixture of all three 99% of the time). And I'm sure we've all experienced being in a good mood until they open their mouth, and then it's like a dark cloud just descends over you. Thankfully we have the control to change who we surround ourselves with, SO DO IT. No need to be rude to the negative people or completely ignore them, but either try to spin your conversations into a more positive context, and if that doesn't work, just hangout with them less. If you are around happy and positive people you will be more happy and positive. That is something I've worked really hard on this year and it has helped beyond belief.
4. SMILE more- Sounds simple right? Sure, but how many of you catch yourself walking around looking grumpy more often than not (for no reason, more often than not)? (My hand is metaphorically raised right now). Try smiling at everyone you pass when walking between classes, or at the grocery store, or wherever really! There are actual psychological studies that have been done that show that people who literally can't frown because of botox recorded being happier, showing that it's not just our brain that makes us feel certain emotions, it's actually a feedback loop between other parts of our body as well. So NO I'm not condoning botox, but I'm condoning SIMPLY SMILING MORE, because it can actually make you feel happier.
5. Focus on the now- This is something I definitely have a hard time with. How can I focus on living in the moment when there are so many things to look forward to?! As hard as it is, it's so important to still live everyday to its fullest potential. Always living for the weekend, or the next break or holiday, can make each day feel like a drag. AND THIS LIFE IS AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL and we shouldn't waste our days just waiting for other days, because those days are never guaranteed. Think of each day as a new beginning and a blank page full of new opportunities to do something that helps you work towards a goal, better yourself, make yourself happy, or make someone else happy. (I admit- I'm guilty of having a countdown to Thanksgiving break on my door but I'm just really excited to spend time with my amazing family. But don't you worry, I'm still loving every day before break as well!).
6. Change your perspective- Change the way you think about situations that would otherwise put you in a bad mood. For example... Mondays. Why does Monday get such a bad rap anyways?! Monday is the beginning of a whole new week full of potential, it's just like any other day, but even better because it's a fresh new week and to me that seems like something to celebrate. SEE HOW EASY THAT WAS?! Even when I have a ton of homework or studying to do, I simply try to just take a few deep breathes, letting go of all of the negativity I feel, and think thoughts such as "there is no need to feel so negative right now. You know you will get everything done, and if you don't? That's okay too. At least you tried your hardest." You may have to repeat these sorts of thoughts multiple times to really change your mindset, but it really helps you see situations in a new and more positive light.
7. Make your environment positive- I know for me I spend most of the day (when I'm not in class or at the gym) in my dorm, and I notice keeping that environment a positive one helps me feel more calm and positive as well. How do I do it? For one, I keep my room really organized, which helps me be able to come back after a stressful day of classes and just breathe and feel at peace. I also put up quotes and Bible verses on my bulletin board as constant reminders to be positive and grateful, and to love the life I live. By hanging quotes where you can easily see them will help give you the little nudge you need when you catch yourself starting to spiral into negativity. I also write a new quote at the top of each new week in my agenda. My agenda is pretty much my life, and although it helps keep me really organized, it can also be a source of stress because it's a visual representation of the huge amount of stuff I have to do. By having a quote written at has proven to be the perfect positivity check I need each day.
(Yes, that is my Vega protein powder and huge jar of homemade granola behind me on my bookshelf ;) )
8. (Last, but definitely not least) Positive self talk- We're all prone to getting down on ourselves, even when it isn't necessary. I've had days that are completely negative and turned upside down, simply because I keep beating myself up about really unimportant things like not running as fast as I had hoped that morning, or getting a B on a test I thought I would ace. Lately I've been better at catching myself having these unnecessary negative thoughts about myself and I'm just like "NAT THINK OF EVERYTHING ELSE YOU'VE ACCOMPLISHED AND STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF." And you know what? It works. Giving yourself little pep talks and making conscious mental notes of your accomplishments is key. It's easy to focus on only what you've "done wrong" or not done as well as you had hoped, but it's so important to also realize how amazing you are and realize we're all human. We all make mistakes, we all mess up at times, we all have our set-backs, but we also all don't give ourselves enough self-love.
I know we've all heard it time and time again, but see the glass as half full, instead of half empty, and just notice how much better you feel. It may take some forcing at first, but it will become easier and easier with time (I've noticed this, and even though I still struggle, it comes more naturally now!). As "Be Grateful" Month gets into full-swing, try to make it your goal to be both more grateful and positive every single day (and I'll make it my goal as well!), and see how it changes your perspective on life, your overall happiness, and your level of balance. :)
"What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create." -Buddha
XO jules + nat
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Sources: http://www.livestrong.com/article/75627-health-benefits-positive-thinking/ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/smile-it-could-make-you-happier/