#Lifelessons101 –  Changing to a positive attitude (inspired by Gretchen Rubin)

Recently I got a wake-up call. And it wasn’t a nice one and kinda scary to admit in public. Ok here goes. I am in reality a pretty negative person. Not in my professional life, where I inspire others to see the bright side of life. Not even my public life, with friends or on social media. But at home behind closed doors, I can be, and regularly am a pessimistic, grumpy stress head. Not a great realisation. However, it is a constructive one as it’s a starting point for change.

I realised this at a recent Lammas workshop where we were talking about sacrifice and the concept that if you want to make something new in your life you have to let something go. (Or sacrifice it, just as the wheat gets cut down to become our bread and brandy) One of this year’s goals for me it to have a healthier, happier relationship with Mr T. Our communication has taken a downwards turn of late so I wanted to improve this. But as the year has gone and stress has been rising if anything my negativity and negative communication with the man I love has got worse. Definitely a glowing neon universal sign that something needs to change.

And of course, that change starts with me. In that workshop, I identified that one of the reasons I was being a snappy cow was because I had too much control and responsibility in our lives and that made me unconsciously resent Mr T (who bless him is sublimely oblivious to this fact). Secondly, I was having trouble letting go of frustrations, little niggling things, like the fact he can’t put the cardboard from a used toilet paper in the bin (WHY??), blind me to all the good and sweet things he does. So letting go was a big key to changing my negativity to positivity. But how? That’s the magic question.

Luckily one of my favourite author’s Gretchen Rubin came to my rescue in her wonderful book “The Happiness Project”. It seems Gretchen had exactly the same issue as me. Always jumping to the negative rather than the positive. In fact, it’s a common issue for many of us. To combat this Gretchen took a whole month to consciously work on her attitude, focusing on the positive rather than the negative. I love this idea, it really spoke to my structured loving mindset. So for the next four weeks, I am going to focus on my attitude.

And this is how I am going to do it:

Identify how you want to change

To not make this a sweeping declaration (a la Marshell Eriksen) I have made a plan. Firstly I have identified how I want to change :

  • I want to understand my negative reactions and use that to help me turn them into positivity.
  • I want to use positive language
  • I want to feel less angry and frustrated
  • I want to think positively even under stress

Make resolutions

Following the Gretchen recipe, the first step is to make resolutions. The idea is to find specific areas to focus on to reach your goal. So my 4 resolutions for this month are:

  • React positively
  • Use good manners
  • Let go of things that don’t serve me
  • Find my joy

The surreal thing is that as always the universe is listening. And lo and behold the moment I set these resolutions I began to find ways to keep them.

Catch the negativity, analyze it and find a positive way to react

If you find that like me you often react negatively, the first step to change is catching yourself at it. Ask yourself why you re reacting this way and then find a way you can react positively.

As I have been writing I could hear the annoying piercing scream of the hoover my Mr T is using. Immediately my first reaction was one of frustration. The noise is too loud. I can’t concentrate. Why the heck does he have to do this now! Normally I would let this spiral on until my next interaction with Mr T and then this frustration would be thrown at the poor unsuspecting man. However, in the spirit of reacting positively, I didn’t. Instead, I took myself outside away from the noise, caught my breath. And therein remembered that we have some neon green noise cancelling headphones. So now I am sitting here comfortable in the lack of wailing noise and appreciative that my lovely man has cleaned the house and I don’t have to do it. (Note to self: Be grateful and say thank you.)

Use good manners

Now this one is lifted straight from the book. As I read I could really relate to the fact that I don’t always use good manners in the way I speak to people. Well, correction, in the way I speak to Mr T. One of the curses of a coach is that you use a lot of energy helping others to feel good and grow, which can mean you don’t have much energy left. And often I find that manifests in me being rude to  Mr T. Well they do say “We hurt those we love the most” which is stupidity if ever I heard it. I didn’t want to hurt Mr T. I wanted to treat him best of all persons. So I have started to find ways I can use good manners towards him. Assuming less and asking more. Using please and thank you. Not rolling my eyes when he is annoying (one of his pet hates). Doing actions of love. Basically being nice.

If you want the world to feel nicer you can’t expect it to hand it to you on a plate if you aren’t willing to be nice too. Good manners are something we can all work on in every aspect of life. Ultimately it’s about being kind and the world is always better for a little kindness.

Let go of things that don’t serve me

Mr T is frustratingly good at this. In a situation, I recently found hella frustrating and a bad experience, Mr T simply focused on the positive things and found the same situation as a great experience. He let go of the bits that didn’t serve him and kept the bits that did. Oh to be able to do that in the blink of an eye! I seriously struggle with letting things go. Partly because I have an expectation of how things should be. And partly because it niggles inside me. So my work here is two-fold.

Firstly I need to use the five-minute rule. Give myself 5 minutes alone to be cross, frustrated, sad, whatever I feel. Then ask myself “can I do anything now?” If I can then do something. If I can’t I have to let it go. However in order to do that I have to find the positives from the challenge.

Secondly, I have to let go of my expectation of how something should play out and enjoy the moment. So what if a date night ended up being a discussion about our finances. At least we got that sorted. Simply looking for the positive here is going to help. Also letting Mr T know I have an expectation is a great way to make sure disappointment is avoided.

There are many different ways you can work on letting go of that which does not serve you. Ask Google for inspiration. As always Google knows!

Find my joy

When you are stressed it is easy to lash out at our nearest and dearest. It’s normal. But I hate it. I always feel like I am the worst version of myself when I do this. So to release the pressure I want to focus on finding my joy in the stressful times. Whether I need some time alone, to draw, to write, to have a walk, to dance, to laugh. Basically, instead of lashing out I want to find ways to make me feel good.

pollyannaGretchen had a great suggestion for this the Pollyanna week. If you haven’t seen the film or read the book, Pollyanna plays the glad game. Basically, whatever happens to her she finds a reason to be glad. Gretchen took a whole week of being glad. I used to play this game a lot as a child. As an adult, it has transpired into my golden rule, if you can learn from a situation it was a good situation. But to just be glad seems like a much simpler and joyful way.

Instead of expecting others to give us joy in the down times find ways you can lift your own spirits and connect with your joy. In times of stress connect with yourself and ask you what do I need right now? How can I feel my joy?

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In essence, the recipe to turn your negative attitude into a positive one is quite simple:

  • Identify how you want to change
  • Make resolutions
  • Find ways you can make those resolutions a reality
  • Follow your plan

I hope you find this as helpful as I did writing it. How do you guys turn your negativity into a positive attitude? Let me know in the comments below.

Have an amazing weekend <3

I am in charge of how i feel and today i am choosing happiness.jpg

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Lifelessons101 – How to be a positive person in 6 easy steps

We all have that one person in our network. The complainer. The pessimist. The person you can spend 5 minutes around and feel stressed and worn out just by listening to them. There are people in this world who just live in the negative. I have one in my life and recently after a long conversation with them I felt like I was pulling my hair out due to wave after wave of negative stories. Honestly I felt like a washed out dishrag afterwards. And it got me wondering. Why is it that people find it so hard to be positive?

A few hours of google-fu later I found the answer. Apparently it’s a psychological phenomenon called negative bias. It’s a common human trait to fixate on the negative. It dates back to our stone age hunter gatherer days when we  had to constantly be vigilant for danger. Now that makes sense in a world full of predators, but it makes no sense as to why we still do it it today. We are now at the top of the food chain after all. Constant negativity today is harmful to ourselves and to the people round us. However luckily there is a way to override this genetic programming and choose a positive life much more suited and beneficial to our modern lives.

So here is my #101 guide on how to be a positive person, see if after a long week at the office you can implement some of these ideas into your life and see how much better your world can be.

Notice the good

Have you ever realised that it is easier to notice something bad than something good? For example; you might get a stream of compliments from a lover but one little less than perfect remark and that’s what you remember. (I know I have done this, Mr T is very good at pointing out when I do this). Try and notice the good things more. When you get a compliment notice it. Avidly focus on good things for 10 secs for example the sun is shining, you cats are playing. Notice the good and you will see more.

Turn the conversation around

When you can feel like you have been complaining in a conversation for a while or someone else has try and turn the conversation in a positive direction. Sometimes just asking someone if they have something they are looking forward to helps lift the mood. If in doubt try and pull a positive story from somewhere, even the last funny video on Facebook can be a great mood changer. I mean who doesn’t like cat videos right!

Choose your stimulus

What is it that you invest your time and energy on. Choosing where your stimulus and input comes from makes a huge difference in your outlook on life. 10 years ago I was watching the news and I realised how depressed and anxious it made me, the adverts inbetween tv shows bugged me and I decided to quit TV. I now haven’t had a television for 10 years and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Of course we have Netflix and HBO and if there is something I hear about going on in the world I check it out online. The difference is I now choose what I watch and what I invite into my life. You can do this with your Facebook feed and un-follow negative feeds and yes you can do it with your social circle too. In fact that is probably one of the most important areas where you can choose your input. Surround yourself with positive people and your life will feel nicer. It’s not rocket science it’s just choice.

Slow down and enjoy your life

It’s easy to miss opportunities to be positive when you are rushing around like a headless chicken. In a fast paced world irritation runs rife. So slow down. Plan breaks and be mindful how you use and enjoy your time. Making enjoying your life the most important thing in your life will shift your focus from pessimistic to positive overnight. Don’t wait for your pension to slow down start savoring you life right now. (I mean it right now).

Sing and dance

Music has one of the most uplifting effects on our moods. If you are feeling low find a favorite tune, sing along and bop around in the kitchen. I used to find that listening to happy music on the way to work started my day so much better than just watching the other commuters on the platform. And I am pretty sure that I amused them when I forgot where I was due to the awesome music and danced a bit on the platform too!

Spread it around

Positivity breeds positivity. Think about it if you see someone smiling you smile too. Say hello to strangers, smile at the bus driver, compliment a colleague in the way they look. See if you can do at least five things to spread positivity each day. Making others feel happy makes you feel happy, it’s simply a win win situation.

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Of course there are many ways to be a positive person these are simply a few ideas to get you started. Adopting the attitude of gratitude is another powerful way to be positive which you can read about here. The most important part of being a positive person is choosing to be a positive person. You have to reprogram your genetics a little and take control. You want  positive life then you have to change your attitude to your life. However as you can see the smallest of change in your habits can and will turn you into a positive person. 

Have a happy weekend 🙂

Put your Positive pants on!.jpg