For many Americans, positivity can seem impossible to maintain. The world is just too grim a place – between news, politics, the economy and all the personal strife you’re struggling with, optimism doesn’t seem realistic.
But it is. For everyone.
In fact, you already have everything you need in your life to change your thinking and make the new year your most optimistic yet. Here are four things you already do (and one thing you should start doing) to change your outlook:
Listen to happy music!
Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that relaxes your body, and provides that feel-good outlook you get every now and then that makes some days seem extraordinary. Music is one of the easiest ways to trigger a dopamine release, and a 2013 Journal of Positive Psychology study reported that listening to upbeat music actually makes people happier. You already listen to music while you drive or while you’re getting ready in the morning; make it happier music and watch your mood change.
No matter what your schedule looks like, chances are you’re going to encounter another human being at some point in your day. This is your opportunity to smile! Just like happy music, research indicates that smiling positively affects the emotional centers of your brain. The effect is multiplied if you smile and try to think of a positive thought simultaneously. If you’re not a natural smiler, this practice might even boost your creativity!
Laughter is a stress reliever, and there are all sorts of things to laugh at every day. Give yourself permission to laugh when you make a silly mistake. Laugh with friends. Laugh at funny memories. Laugh at good jokes. Laugh at bad jokes. Laugh at the people around you. Laugh at the absurdity of everyday life.
For many, meditation seems totally foreign and inaccessible, but chances are you already practice it in some form or another. It’s simple – you spend a few minutes focusing your attention on a single point of reference. Without realizing it, some people focus on the heat of their morning shower, or the rise and fall of their breath as they fall asleep. It’s all meditation, and when you concentrate for as little as 7 minutes per day, you can lower stress levels, sleep better and improve your creative thinking skills.
Write down the things you’re grateful for!
This is the tip you’re probably not currently doing, but it can make an extraordinary impact on your life. It’s a key to positive psychology, and the results can be profound. Every morning after making your bed, place a journal or notebook on your pillow. When you get ready for bed in the evening, write down three, four or five things you’re grateful for before laying down to sleep.
Positivity isn’t complicated. It isn’t unrealistic. The truth is, you already have the tools you need to adopt an optimistic outlook and all the benefits that come with it – like an increased lifespan, a stronger immune system and a healthier heart.
Don’t wait for another year to go by. Get started now. Live better today.