I don’t think I’ve ever seen an entire Star Wars movie but I do enjoy Yoda, mainly because I’m a sucker for a good song parody and my friend posted one on Facebook one day which had me laughing for days. I also enjoy Harrison Ford but that’s a topic for an entirely different post! In one of the movies (maybe you could help me out on which one?), Yoda has this line which I absolutely love. He says, “There is no try. There is only do.” That wise little creature (maybe you could also tell me what he is?) nailed it! We are either taking action towards our goals or we are not. The key towards taking action and moving forward is a positive attitude.
This is really a struggle for me sometimes. I get so focused on the negative that I completely forget all the really great things happening in my life, partly because I have extremely perfectionistic tendencies and my natural thought process is to focus on the imperfect. (Check out my previous post, Battling Perfectionist Procrastination for my recommendations on overcoming perfectionism.) For a long time, I did not feel truly happy and it was only after I started paying attention to my thoughts and self-talk that I started making progress towards shedding the negativity. I’m not going to pretend that I have the area of maintaining a positive attitude entirely figured out but I will say that I have made significant strides in this area and would love to share what has impacted my life and helped me start to overcome the negativity.
The first is very simple …. laugh more! Think back to the last hilarious comedy you’ve watched. How did you feel both during and immediately after the movie? Were you in a better mood than you were before the movie? I promise not to overwhelm you with a plethora of research articles and sources here but science has actually shown that laughter impacts your body in many positive ways. It boosts your immune system, reduces the effects of stress hormones, and actually burns calories. It also reduces inflammation throughout your body and increases your tolerance for pain by increasing endorphins. Plus, it just feels good! If you’re looking for a quick boost, check out the funny Yoda parody I mentioned earlier here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9t-slLl30E
Gratitude is the direct opposite of negativity. Practicing gratitude is a useful activity to incorporate into your morning self-care routine because it sets your day up for a positive mindset. It’s tough to feel negative when your focus is on all the blessings in your life! I recommend starting a gratitude journal (or in my case, a gratitude “random pieces of paper that I can find around my house”!). Every morning, spend a few minutes writing down what you are grateful for. It may also be helpful to create a picture board of the people, places, and things which bring you joy as a visual reminder when you start to creep back towards the negative. Practicing gratitude on a regular basis is powerful and you will see positive shifts in your mindset if you commit to consistency in this area.
Speaking of morning self-care routine … set aside even 10 minutes in the morning to build yourself up for the challenges of the day ahead by doing some type of personal development activity. My favorite way to do this is by listening to podcasts during my workout and commute because fitting in time to sit down and read a book in the morning is not a reality for me! Although I have a number of podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis, my ultimate favorite is Trish Blackwell’s Confidence on the Go. Trish specializes in confidence coaching and is very open about her own struggles in this area in a way which makes you feel as if you are having a conversation with one of your friends. She was a personal trainer for many years and also has two little ones so is completely relatable for other moms. I cannot say enough positive things about this podcast and felt that it was key to helping me make a shift in my own mindset so check it out: https://www.trishblackwell.com/category/podcasts/
The next tip I have for you in developing a positive mindset is to pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day. It’s way easier to be positive if you’ve had a great night of sleep and feel rested (which I can’t honestly say I have slept well since maybe 2010?). I tend to be more positive and optimistic in the morning after my workout and personal development but find that my ability to remain positive decreases throughout the day as I become tired. I’m sure you’ve seen this with your kids – they wake up so happy and agreeable but by naptime have transformed into a combination of Jekyll and Hyde with a little Luke Skywalker light saber action thrown in there. When you are trying to make some type of change in your life, such as establishing a positive mindset, it can be disheartening to find that you are sinking back into your old thought patterns. Knowing why you may be reverting back to your previous habit is helpful in keeping the momentum going and encouraging yourself in the thought that you are actually making progress because you now have awareness about whether your mindset is positive or not.
Once you’ve developed a feel for when your positive zen is strongest, use this time to tackle the most challenging items on your to do list or to work toward your goals. Often your creativity peaks when you are at your most positive so maximize this time. Practicing a positive mindset does take intention and hard work, but the results are truly life altering! Lastly, when you are feeling tired or come across some other obstacle in your quest to change your mindset, cut yourself some slack! There is no perfection in this world and it will be impossible to always have a positive mindset because we are human and will simply have bad days. The key is to never give up on trying! I think it’s also helpful to know that everyone struggles. Even really positive people struggle, have bad days, and sink back into negative thought patterns sometimes. Having a positive mindset is a choice that you make on a daily basis and the great thing about choice is that every day, you can make a better one than you did the previous day!