Thursday, 4 July 2013


I like to think I am a positive, resilient and motivated individual.
I've achieved a lot in the last 28 years and recently learned that even when things aren't going my way I am pretty good at looking at the bright side (and for those odd occasions when the dark side starts to invade I have a great group of mates that help me turn it around sharpish).

I think in order to be a happy person you need to practice positivity and being positive encourages optimism which is essential in reaching any of your life goals.

Positive attitude, positive thinking, and optimism are the key ingredients to living a good life and ensuring your overall well-being.  Many studies have shown that you are likely to live longer and be healthier and happier with a positive attitude toward life. I also fully believe you're also way more likely to be successful.

I recently read the following on another blog (

1. Positive People Live Longer …In a study of nuns, those that regularly expressed positive emotions lived on average 10 years longer. {The Nun Study}

2. Positive work environments outperform negative work environments. {Daniel Goleman}

3. Positive, optimistic sales people sell more than pessimistic sales people. {Martin Seligman}

4. Positive leaders are able to make better decisions under pressure. {}

5. Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions whereas when the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce. {John Gottman}

6. Positive people who regularly express positive emotions are more resilient when facing stress, challenges and adversity. {Several Studies}

7. Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture …which helps them identify solutions where as negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems. {Barbara Fredrickson}

8. Positive thoughts and emotions counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time. {Several Studies}

9. Positive emotions such as gratitude and appreciation help athletes perform at a higher level. {}

10. Positive people have more friends which is a key factor of happiness and longevity. {Robert D. Putnam}

11. Positive and popular leaders are more likely to garner the support of others and receive pay raises and promotions and achieve greater success in the workplace. {Tim Sande}

With so many reasons to ensure you remain, or even focus on becoming, a positive person here are some things I do on a regular basis that I hope will help you become a happier person:

1) Eliminate Negative Thoughts
The first step is one of awareness. You need to be aware of your thoughts, how they make you feel and why they make you feel that way in order to eliminate. Once you have unearthed these unhealthy thoughts they become much easier to deal with. I can imagine this will not be a simple process if you are prone to negative self talk. For example if at primary guy at school often called you ugly, you might believe that to be true regardless to the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the guy in questions could have been a huge tool or the fact that the taunting was many years ago. Following such hurtful behavior it may be that ever since you have scrutinized your features, talked down on yourself and resulted in a lack of self esteem. Its difficult to get far and achieve if you put yourself down. So how do we break out of this habit? Anytime you catch yourself thinking "I can't", instantly question yourself "why not?", listen to your answers - are they real answers or just excuses. If your answer is just a negative belief i.e Im not good enough, try and think of a time when you have been. When I wanted to get back into writing I kept thinking things like "I haven't written in ages", "I don't think I am actually very good", "what if people think I am terrible" etc, then I did this exercise and worked on replacing those thoughts with facts "I have a BA honours journalism degree", "I got a 1st in my 30,000 word dissertation on Media in the Iraq war", "the more feedback I have the more I can improve" - these thoughts then took over and inspired me to start my blogs!

Another technique I was recently taught in a life coaching session is the swish effect, based on NLP practise. If you constantly think of 1 particular thing, whether it is an ex boyfriend, self doubt or fear of the future this is what you need to do. Realize which side of the brain the thought comes from. Acknowledge the thought. Now think of something very positive and strong that you would like to focus on - if your thought is of an ex, create an image of you being extremely happy with someone else, if it's self doubt imagine yourself strong and powerful doing the exact thing you want to do and doing it well, if its fear of the future create a picture of your ideal future, your husband, business, kids etc. Now make sure the new thought is a very big and colorful image. Think of the negative thought and shrink it down to a tiny, miniscule size and then imagine it shooting away from you as fast as possible, then instantly replace the thought with the new image. If you keep practicing this you will see how quickly your negative thoughts can be replaced with optimism.

2) Accept the worrying is a waste of time
There are so many things to worry about in life, it almost becomes part of your weekly routine -  your flights are delayed, you're due an appraisal with your boss, you have a job interview at a major firm - these kind of things can cause worry, anxiety and therefore stress . The best thing to do is learn to accept that worrying about things achieves absolutely nothing and simply wastes your time and fills you with doubt. Learn to accept the situation for what it is and think that everything happens for a reason - whatever will be will be - and no matter what happens there is always another solution. Once you stop worrying about things it gives you so much more head space to appreciate all the good in your life.

3) Surround yourself with Positive Influences
External factors in your life will play a huge part in how you think and behave. I suggest that you first identify any external negative forces in your life that influence your behavior. For example do you have a certain friend who constantly think the world is unfair to them. The more you are around these thoughts the more likely you are to adopt them, limit the time you spend with such people, similarly ensure you are not sharing dreams and goals with anyone who will be unsupportive and therefore make you second guess your chances. Also look at your environment - does your house have enough light, is your workspace inspiring, does your relationship make you happy.  Ensure you set your standards high, surround yourself only with people and things that empower you.

4) Focus on the Present
This is an area that I am currently working to improve myself. A lot of people are daunted and put off by the many steps that need to be taken in order to reach personal goals. It can feel overwhelming and you end up worrying and over analyzing everything. Therefore concentrate on steps and actions that can be taken right now. If you want to spend 6 months cruising around the Caribbean on a yacht but feel it is only a dream that can happen for the rich and famous. First replace the negative thought with a positive (step 1) then work out what you can do right now - google search clubs that teach newbies how to sail, search websites that offer cruising in the Caribbean, check flight prices to Barbados, set up a new savings account or automatic payment to start saving an extra $10 a week etc. The present is much more manageable.

This is the same for any worries or concerns you may have. For example I have been worrying about my career and what it is I actually want to do for the rest of my life. I have been concerned that being a writer requires working 60 hours a week, with a lot of rejection and minimal pay. However for the moment I am simply writing these blogs to get my confidence up and researching other alternatives only a weekly basis.

You cannot control what will happen in the future but most of the time you can control what actions you take and thoughts you have today. Meditation also helps with this, bringing your focus to the present moment.

5) Practice Gratitude
The opposite of  dissatisfaction is gratitude. When we are grateful for something we attract more of those positive aspects - it is the same with negative ones. Therefore, we should be focusing on all the positive things in life. Whenever you think of something that is getting you down, whether it's in your relationship or job, write down all the things you do like and are grateful for. They can be as grand or simple as you like, for example if you are not happy at work you may wish to write that you are grateful to be able to pay the bills each month. I keep a grateful list which I try to add too each week for all the things I am grateful for in life and start every morning reading this list before I start my day - reminding me of all the awesome things I have in my life.

Practicing gratitude is also true for simple manners or telling others how well they're doing, thanking them for their support or pointing out the good things in someones personality. They say smiling is contagious, therefore surely it is the same for extending gratitude.

6) Do What Makes You Happy
It is important to be aware and acknowledge the things that make you happy. Write a list of all the things that make you feel good about yourself, it could be painting your nails, dying your hair, surfing, watching a funny movie, reading a good book, cooking for others etc. Once you have your list it is extremely important to ensure you start acting on these things as often as possible. It can sometimes help to write a list of the top ten things that make you happy, put it somewhere where you can see it everyday and aim to get a few ticks each week next to each item, ticking off everytime you have done the action in question. This will ensure you are living a life that makes you smile and gives you prompt and encouragement to stop being lazy and do the things you love!

When you start focusing on becoming a happier person you will find that you start attracting other positive people into your life. You will also become more aware of the good things in life that you may have overlooked previously, in the same instance you will also feel when there is negativity around and it will be easier to avoid.  Hopefully some of the tips above will work for you and help you become a happier more, optimistic person.

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