Lifestyle: how to stay happy and optimistic every day
How to have a more positive outlook on life and stay optimistic, stress free and mentally healthy.
How are you feeling at this very moment? If your answer is anything less than “content,” the chances are that your state of angst is being caused by two elements that have nothing to do with the Here and Now; specifically, Yesterday and Tomorrow. Regrets about events that have occurred in the past and apprehensions about what could occur in the future have done more to immobilize otherwise healthy people than anything else in the world.
Want to break the pattern of needless worry and learn to rejoice in the present? The following tips will help you to get there.
YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW ARE NOT WITHIN YOUR CONTROL
Throughout our lifetimes there will be paths we will wish that we had taken or choices that we perceive would have been better ones for us to make. Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with an instant replay button or a chance for do-overs. For as much time as one can spend daydreaming about the outcomes of a parallel universe, the less time accordingly becomes available for making good use of the decisions that brought us to our current juncture. Likewise, we can chew our fingernails down to the knuckles and wear a hole in the carpet in our pacing and forth and worrying whether we’ll get a promotion, find lasting romance, or have a safe landing on our next plane trip. None of this zealous fretting, however, is going to have any influence on how other people think or whether our time on Earth will be of short or long duration. The question to ask yourself the next time you feel anxious is whether the cause of your worry is something that is within your immediate control to fix. If it isn’t, let it go.
THE ONLY THING PREDICTABLE IS CHANGE
Oftentimes when we’re deliriously happy, it’s hard to imagine an occasion when we were really down in the dumps. The same can be said of being depressed; certainly whatever ecstasy we felt for something or someone once upon a happier time had to have been just a myth compared to the bereft state we’re feeling now. The reality, of course, is that not only is life an ebb and flow of happy and sad but that this continuing cycle provides us with the proper frame of reference to appreciate the value of both emotions. If you’re feeling troubled and life just doesn’t seem as bright as you think it should be, sit down right now and make a list of the 10 happiest events that have ever happened to you. The odds are in this exercise that they either happened completely out of the blue (i.e., winning a prize) or were things that were the result of your own planning (i.e., a great vacation). The first instance shows that, at any moment, something unexpected could happen that will lift your spirits. The second demonstrates that you’re entirely capable of orchestrating positive outcomes yourself; you just need to focus on what it is that you want and put your energy toward making it come about
Too often, people wait until Thanksgiving to take stock of all the blessings in their lives. Why be a slave to the calendar when you can take stock any day of the week? For that matter, you can even buy a turkey breast, make some dressing and potatoes, and celebrate Thanksgiving in July! One needs only to watch the news on television or read the daily newspaper to see examples of people around the world who are far less fortunate. Your house, your family, your job, your health—they may not be as perfect as you’d like them to be but take a moment each and every day and consider what your world would be like if all of these things were taken from you. The adage that we are never given more than we can handle holds especially true on the days when life has us down, for it is on those days that we discover our inner strength and our drive to make the next day better…and happier.
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Make a list of ten things that really crack you up. Maybe it’s a favorite funny TV show or movie. Maybe it’s a friend who always has a great way of telling humorous stories. Maybe it’s listening to your children or grandchildren explain the universe. Whatever it is, try to engage in at least one of your ten funny things every day. I even have a friend who started a clippings folder of favorite New Yorker cartoons, short stories, silly cards and jokes that she could pull out whenever she was feeling glum. The secret behind her strategy, of course, is that she always adds to the folder when she’s on top of the world as a form of “rainy day insurance” for whenever she later feels the weight of that same world on her shoulders.
THE 5% THEORY
Have you ever dwelled on something for longer than the duration of the actual event itself? Relationships in particular fall into this category. Many an individual, for example, will be remorse for years over the break-up of an affair that only lasted 6 months. Likewise, people will stew needlessly over an incident at the office that happened three weeks ago and that everyone else has pretty much forgotten about. If you’re guilty of this habit, it’s keeping you from moving forward and being happy. Therefore, apply this simple formula: do not be angry, depressed or mopey for more than 5% of the total amount of time the event was actually occurring. Let’s say you dated someone for 10 weeks and he or she then dumped you. Under the 5% theory, you’re entitled to whine for 3.5 days. Longer than that and you are just making yourself miserable for no good reason.
TAKE A WALK
Staying indoors and dwelling on your problems won’t make them vanish. Getting completely outside of yourself, however, will allow you to view things with a different perspective. You can accomplish this by putting on a good pair of walking shoes, grabbing either a jacket or pair of sunglasses and taking a walk. Even if you’ve lived in the same neighborhood for years, make a point of paying more attention to the trees, the flowers, the sky, the scent of the air. Engage in conversation with the people that you meet. Make up stories for yourself about the inhabitants of the houses or the passersby in cars. Watch a sunset. Count the stars. And when you come back inside, fix yourself whatever you consider to be the best “comfort food” on the planet. You deserve it!