A friend recently asked me, “What’s the worst habit you’ve overcome?”
“Besides eating chocolate for breakfast?” I joked. “That would be complaining.”
I used to be an incessant complainer. When I was growing up, my mother blamed everything under the sun for not completing something or doing it wrong. Living with a parent who has a bad habit can influence a child’s future behaviors and that is what happened to me.
As I got older, I found myself criticizing my friends during disagreements, or when I hit below the belt when my best friend invited another friend to Disney.
I admit, it felt good at first—powerful even. But soon after, I felt sad and guilty.
My turning point came when my teacher gently pulled me aside one day after recess. “You know, sometimes we think our situation is worse than it is. But life is pretty great when you start noticing what’s going right.”
Though the lesson was indirect, I was taught the gift of gratitude. And gratitude is one reason I love positive psychology.
Positive psychology encourages us to question which thoughts and actions we can change to become happier.
This intentional focus inspires us to cultivate positive emotions, nurture relationships, and commit acts of kindness.
The following exercises can help improve your emotional well-being, and someone else’s, too.
#1: Three funny things
Write down three funny things you experienced in a given day, and why those things happened. For example, was this something you were directly involved in, something you observed, or something spontaneous?
When you can laugh at yourself and your circumstances, it means that you don’t take life too seriously. Best of all, laughing is contagious!
Journaling provides a snapshot of moments in time. It creates a healthy habit of self-reflection, allows us to document positive changes in our thoughts and behaviors, and helps us transition from a bad mood to a good one.
For example, if you accomplished something this week, you would recount:
- How it happened
- Why it happened
- What I did right
- How I helped this happen
Next, record one activity that you didn’t like and how you can address it. Then, problem-solve the following:
- How this is keeping me stuck
- What thoughts and actions I can take to get unstuck
#3: Write your future diary
Whether you’re trying to eat healthier or starting your own business, envisioning your future can be a great motivating factor to get you over the slump.
Picture your future. Focus on how life will be different and what changes will be in place. Reflect on how you’ll feel and on how others will respond to the new, improved you.
Most importantly, think about how you’ll utilize the habits, skills, and talents you’re learning now to benefit others.
#4: Count kindness gestures
Record all the kind acts that you do in a particular day, and the acts of kindness you witness. These can be as simple as placing helping an elderly person cross the street or smiling at strangers.
#5: Gratitude visit
Think of someone you should thank, someone who’s been helpful or kind to you, outside of a family member, partner, or spouse. Write a letter to this person, including details about how they’ve helped you and the lasting impact this has had on you.
Next, arrange to meet up with your friend and tell them you have something to read to them. After you finish reading the letter, present it as a gift.
#6: Cultivate a positive outlook
The difference between people who complain and those who do not is utter appreciation and gratitude for what you have, right here and right now. When you intentionally choose positivity, you look inward for resources and you trust your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Life still brings pain and heartache, but you know there’s a way out.
Sometimes bad thoughts or “what-if’s” come into out minds. These thoughts are futile, yet it was hard to shake the doom as there can often be validating thoughts to the original “what-if.” When this happens, breathe deeply, close your eyes, and remind yourself that these feelings are not facts.
If you are struggling with keeping a positive outlook, it may be helpful to have an unbias perspective helping you regain positivity. Give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378 to schedule a free phone consultation with our Orlando Licensed Mental Health Counselors for Individual Counseling in Orlando.If your child or adolescent is struggling with having a positive mindset, our Orlando Child Counselors, Orlando Adolescent Therapists, and Orlando Teen Counselors would gladly help them through this time and to a more positive life!