Inside: 12 simple habits to help keep you smiling and positive.
We all lead chaotic lifestyles, and sometimes it can be challenging to remain positive. We’ve developed an outrage culture. Political posts on social media and conversations turn into verbal battles with people choosing sides based on their guy/girl or whether you’re red or blue. No one listens to each other’s point of view, let alone try to understand that point of view.
Happiness is a state of mind and revolves mostly around how we feel about ourselves, those around us, and our life in general. Everyone wants to find happiness in their life at some point, and some are better at finding it than others. In a world that seemingly has gone off the deep end, it’s important now more than ever to find routines and habits to remain happy and positive.
Admittedly for me, staying happy and positive can be challenging at times. I have my issues and struggle with thinking errors that can drag me into a place I don’t want to be mentally. I, like everyone else, am a work in progress trying to better myself. After all, if we’re not trying to be better people, than what’s the point?
The question then becomes, what do you need to do to be happy and positive? I researched this topic for some time before coming up with 12 habits to help keep you comfortable and positive.
It is tough to feel bad and smile at the same time. No matter what you are feeling, try to smile. Smiling creates this reaction in your body that somehow tells your mind that if you’re smiling, you must be feeling good. You look better when you smile as well. If you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you see a frown, you will almost instantly think negatively. Conversely, if you are smiling, you will see a happy person.
Practice more smiling daily. Smile at the person who holds the door for you or who you pass in the store. Don’t smile in a creepy, predatory way, but flash a pleasant smile and a hello.
I live in New York, and New Yorkers are known to be standoffish people. I don’t necessarily think it’s because we’re mean people. I think it’s because we are always in a hurry and for a good portion of the year, cold! Many walk with their heads down, staring at their phone so they don’t need to make eye contact. When I walk out of the gym every morning, I make it a point to say “good morning” to someone whether they are looking at me or not.
Part of me likes to see the surprise on their face when they realize they are being spoken to. 9 times out of 10, they respond with a good morning or a smile. Try it for yourself.
Be surrounded by positive people
Surround yourself with others who are positive. Negative people try to bring down everyone around them and can take the air out of a room if you let them. You can’t help but be in a better mood when you are around positive people. In my life, that person is my wife. She can pretty much turn any situation that appears negative into a positive with four simple words. “It could be worse”.
Eliminate all negatives from your life. If there is someone you follow on social media that continuously posts negative thoughts then unfollow them. Follow positive people who strive to lift others up and not bring them down.
Find positive in everything you do
Even if you fail at something, there is always some take away from the experience that you can use to learn from. First, you need to take some time to analyze the situation and then ask yourself two simple questions:
- “What did I learn from this outcome/situation?”
- “How can I use this information I took away to do better next time?”
If you only look for the negative in a situation, that is all you’ll ever see. Develop habits that include spending time looking for positive in every case, and you might surprise yourself.
Do not fear failure
Fearing failure can prevent people from trying, moving forward, and attempting to achieve your goals and dreams. A standard thinking error for many is catastrophizing or exaggerating the consequences when things go wrong, and you imagine that things are or will be disastrous. Before doing anything that you fear, think to yourself, “what is the worst thing that could happen”? When you think in this manner, you often realize that it’s not going to be quite as bad as you thought.
Another trick is to remember other times when you were fearful and made it through. Think of the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do in life and how you did it. If you could get by that fear, then nothing should stand in your way.
A quote that my family likes to use is from the movie We Bought A Zoo. The main character Benjamin Mee (played by Matt Damon), is explaining how he mustered up the courage to talk to a girl that would become his wife. Benjamin says, “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.” Though this quote was explicitly used to point out talking to the opposite sex, it can apply to everything in life.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in thoughts about everything you don’t have in life. Instead, create habits where you focus on the positives and what you do have. Take a moment out of each day to be grateful for what you have that is good and positive in life. Maybe you’re grateful for a loving spouse and children, a decent job, a roof over your head and food on the table. I guarantee someone wishes they had what you have.
Give more than you take at all times. Giving can include a simple gesture like a compliment or help with a favor or listening to a friend in a time of need. Giving back can also mean donating your time at a local church or food pantry. Spend time with the less fortunate and see the expression on their face when you provide items they need like food and clothing. Simple things that we take for granted daily mean the world to those in need.
Make habits that include taking care of yourself!
Make it a habit to eat correctly, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep each night. Your body is a machine, and you can’t expect that machine to run at full capacity if you aren’t taking care of it. If you’re regularly eating junk food or fast food, you will find yourself feeling sluggish, which in turn can harm your mood.
Taking care of yourself also means doing things in life that make you happy! Determine what in your life makes you happy and then do more of that or at least some of it as often as possible. For my wife and I, we are most content and happy sitting on the beach in the summer until the sun sets. It is when we both feel the most at peace with ourselves and each other.
Be more fluid
I have mentioned before in previous articles about the concept of perfection. Stop wasting your time trying to be perfect. It is a losing battle. Learn to roll with the punches a bit and develop a habit of being more adaptable and fluid to change. There is a certain portion of life that is filled at times by having to do some things you don’t want to do, especially when you’re married.
Maybe candle shopping isn’t your thing, but it is your wife’s, so make her happy and go candle shopping. Seeing a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend happy should make you happy even if what you’ve been asked to do isn’t your favorite. It’s not always about you, so learn to go with the flow more.
Simplify your life and organize
Many of us have too much stuff. Honestly, how many pairs of shoes do you need in life? If you’ve ever watched HGTV, there is a show called Tiny Homes, where people downsize their life from full-size homes to tiny houses often only a couple of hundred square feet. These people learn to live with only what they need and get rid of all their extra stuff. I imagine it to be quite liberating to do something like this and entirely purge your life.
Aside from personal belongings, take inventory of your own life and any baggage that you are dragging along with you — baggage in the form of bad relationships or friends and acquaintances. Spring clean regularly, and you find yourself happier!
Have you ever misplaced your phone, and for a split second, you have a mini heart attack thinking you lost it? We all have, and the fact that this is such a fear for many is only one reason we need to develop habits that include unplugging from electronics and “the grid” now and then. Watching the news for 5 minutes is enough to depress even the happiest of people. Each story is worse than the one before highlighting politics, war, wildfires, school shootings, and on and on. And that news is now 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It constantly bombards you.
Social media is just as bad. It’s either full of people arguing or influencers telling me what to wear and buy. Take a couple of hours each day to unplug. Steer clear of electronics and put your phone off and in the other room. I promise you will survive.
Don’t hold a grudge
Life is too short to hold grudges. Sometimes extending the olive branch and offering forgiveness is all that is needed to relieve your mind. It is better for your mental and physical health to let go of grudges and the stress that comes with them. Have you ever been in a fight or held a grudge against someone and dreaded going out when you know they could be there? It is a terrible stress-filled feeling as you try to navigate without running into them.
Instead, confront the situation head-on, air your grievances, speak your mind, and move on. If they don’t agree to move on, then do so without them but be the bigger person. You will feel better afterward about yourself, and a huge weight will be lifted from you.
Speak to a professional
As someone who has spent time speaking to a therapist, I highly recommend it for any and everyone who can do so. Visit a psychologist first as they do not prescribe medications but instead teach you mechanisms to cope. Sometimes there is only so much you can do on your own, and you need to turn to a professional. I am not an expert on therapy, but I can only tell you from experience it is an eye-opener and helps.
It may be scary at first to talk to a stranger, but remember whatever you are telling them, chances are they have heard it, or something like it, before. Don’t be scared of the stigma of a therapist. The stronger person is the one who sees a problem and works to correct it. If you are finding it difficult to find happiness, then visit a professional.
This list is meant to be a starting ground, but if you feel overly depressed regularly, I recommend reaching out for professional help. Creating habits to keep you happy is vital for your growth in life as a person. Following the 12 tips above can start you on your journey, but it’s up to you to implement these tips. Start by adding one a week, and you will be amazed at how much better you feel.
What do you do to foster habits of being happy and positive? Comment below.