Ready to start being optimistic??

We all have the ability to be optimistic about life (and yes – that includes the grumpy old man who serves you your morning latte!).

Each each of us are born with an innate level of optimism, and throughout life depending on our environment and the experiences we go through, this optimism can turn into more pessimism – some developing into severe mental illness.

For many of us to be able to ‘re-shape’, ‘heal’ and in a sense ‘re-wire’ our brains to be more resilient and optimistic about life, we need to think about the following elements:

Positive emotions – Surprise; we need to experience more positive emotions to over-come the negative thoughts each day. 

How do we learn to do this to the point that we can self regulate?

Start by writing down 3 positive events that happened to you each day before you go to bed.

According to research, each negative emotion, we need to have 3 positive emotions to re-balance – the reason being that unfortunately negative emotions tend to hang around for longer.

So – get that gratitude journal cranking again! If you’ve had a bad day, I’d challenge you to think harder to write down more positive events to balance it out (I mean ANYTHING – e.g the weather, a smile from a stranger, you letting someone drive in front of you at the merging lane on the way to work, a nice, crispy apple you had today).

Practice makes perfect – so do this each day for a couple of weeks and reflect on the difference.

Engagement – The more regularly we engage in things that give us a sense of ‘flow’, the higher our sense of well being and outlook on life. 

When we engage in things that we find ourselves getting completely absorbed in, challenged, feeling as if we felt a sense of ‘hey – that was fun’ or ‘woohoo, when can I do that again?’, and something that giving us a sense of jumping out of bed each day to participate in – we’ve found our flow, similar to a passion.

It might be something that is totally irrelevant to anything else we do in our day to day things, but just something that we can lose ourselves in – and do it regularly! (Think long runs, writing, meditation, reading, singing……..).

Think about creating a ‘vision board’; and posting photos, images, quotes, words or mementos of the things you enjoy doing to get you to focus on the things that might give you your flow.

Positive relationships – Arguably the biggest and most necessary – the types of relationships we have in our lives can impact greatly on our outlook. 

Think about the relationships that are important to you; circles of friends, community groups, family.

Which of these generally make you feel good about yourself and are supportive? Which of these perhaps do you not feel supported by?

Is this a relationship you wish to continue?

Who do you look up to in your life and why?

Meaning – Meaning is how we make ‘sense’ of the world – finding this reason why we get out of bed and what makes us tick is extremely helpful in getting us to achieve the things we want because it gives them meaning and value.

Ask yourself – what really matters to you?

If you could do anything you wanted (with no financial, social, work etc. barriers), what would it be?

What do you hope will be your impact on the world?

When you think about what is important to your life, question yourself as to why it really matters?

Achievement – Having a sense of accomplishment and success in being able to reach your goals gives you the confidence to try again! The more success we experience – the more likely we are to feel optimistic about life and a greater sense of well being. 

Start by setting yourself one or two small, achievable goals each week to build your confidence in your abilities, your satisfaction with life and your place in the world. This could be something as simple as ‘I will have breakfast each day this week’, or ‘I will walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week for 45minutes at my lunch break’.

By working on all of the above regularly, we are more likely to be resilient when things don’t necessarily go our way, build on our own strengths and values, cultivate and enjoy the things that are going well in our lives, have an increased level of hope and optimism, have an increased sense of empowerment, and be more grateful for the things around us – positive and negative!

Sounds exciting doesn’t it!

It all comes back to the idea that we are responsible for our own lives and happiness, and can control the way we react to and think about life.

Love it or hate it – it’s up to us!

I know which I’d prefer!

 

**(www.positivityratio.com – a great site to test your in-built ratio of optimism vs. pessimism).

 

Ash Xxx

 

Found this article helpful? Check out my one on one coaching programs.

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Let go of what you can’t control…. how to succeed the ‘easy’ way!

In my experience, life can be pretty complicated. Although most of us have plenty to manage in our day-to-day lives—jobs, relationships, family, exercise, sleep, you name it—there are really only a few things we truly have control over. I changed my life by identifying these variables and learning how to master them. And I think you can too.

Happiness and success (however you define either one) have a lot to do with each other. In fact, greater happiness has been found to lead to greater success. I think both can be achieved with some simple and straightforward habit hacking, or making small tweaks to your routine which, little by little, add up to major changes in how you’re living your life.

We make millions of little decisions all the time, and the result of each one is either net positive, net negative, or neutral. The more net positive decisions we can make (and the fewer net negative ones), the better. Net positive decisions—brushing your teeth before bed, eating healthy meals, and regularly going to the gym—help you feel good and bring you one step closer to your goals despite the effort they entail.

Net negative decisions, such as filling up on food that doesn’t make you feel good, skipping the nightly teeth-brushing, letting that downer friend cramp your style, or forgoing the gym—make it difficult to reach your goals because your decisions don’t make you feel good, empowered, or confident. They take more out of you than they give, interfering with your energy levels, sapping your motivation, and clouding your focus.

Let go of all the stuff you can’t control and start using your time to master what you can control.

While the healthier choice may seem harder, it pays off bigger. And you’ll be surprised by just how easy these choices can be once you make the effort. By learning how to master the seven things that are within our control, you will start to make more net positive decisions, fewer net negative ones, and find that empowering, positive behaviors become second nature. So let go of all the stuff you can’t control and start using your time to master what you can control. Before you know it, you’ll be living your best life ever!

1. Your Breath

Most people don’t even think about their breathing (I myself used to talk for many seconds at a time and forget to breathe!). Breathing is obviously important, but so is the ability to focus on it. Can you feel your chest expand when you inhale, and get softer when you exhale? Where do you feel the rise and fall most? Breathing is the ultimate hack to relax and slow racing thoughts. As soon as you experience something unpleasant, just take a few deep breaths and focus not on how horrible the situation was, but on your breathing. When you focus on your breath, you can count “one” as you inhale, “two” as you exhale. When you get to 10, start over. I bet you’ll start to feel better and more grounded immediately.

2. Your Self-Talk

We all have a voice in our heads. That voice can often be critical and get in the way of our happiness and success. Try to count the times you engage in negative self-talk each day. It may surprise you how often you criticize yourself. If you can learn to recognize this Debbie Downer of an inner voice and replace it with encouraging statements, your attitude will start to change. Try talking to yourself with compassion. For example, instead of telling yourself you’re not good enough, remind yourself that you are worthy of love and attention, or that it’s okay to make mistakes—we all do!

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3. Your Gratitude

If you can practice being grateful on a daily basis, your happiness and productivity will increase.  Cultivating gratitude trains us to focus on hope, to remain inspired, and to be optimistic, lending us the courage and resilience to persevere in the face of setbacks (on top of giving us a mood boost that keeps us coasting).

4. Your Body Language

According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, you can demonstrate power and confidence simply by changing the way you hold your body. For example, adopting a powerful stance—arms on your hips and feet planted wide, causing you to take up more space—increases testosterone and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. The result? This “power posing” will make you feel more confident. Think about this before you meet with a potential client, go to a job interview, or even just before you leave the house.

5. Your Mental and Physical Fitness

I don’t know about you, but I come up with my best ideas while I’m on the elliptical. Exercising is a chance to just listen to my music and think about nothing. It’s glorious. You don’t have to go to the gym, but we all ought to take 20 minutes out of our days to get up and move. Motion helps free your mind and body to better tap into your creative potential. Walking has literally been found to increase creativity. Getting in some movement will help creativity and also focus.

Giving your brain a workout is as easy as it is important for you to do. Whether you play Sudoku, do crossword puzzles, or read non-fiction books, your brain will feel the difference. You can get a similar benefit from meditation. Just 20 to 30 minutes has been shown to increase focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and even dial down physical pain. 

6. Your Diet

Even though it might taste great, junk food is a net negative. It makes your brain and body slow and sad. Consuming too much sugar has been linked to all kinds of medical conditions (including metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease), not to mention mood swings and crashes that kill productivity. Plus, processed foods have been proven to exacerbate, if not cause, chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and even breast cancer.  Simple fixes like keeping a bag of carrots or a bowl or some nuts y help us pick up the healthier choice when we’re depleted and hungry and reaching for the closest snack. Easy-to-whip-up, convenient-to-carry portable snacks can be delicious and nutritious.

7. Your Sleep

Sleep is critical for focus, concentration, job and academic performance, keeping your appetite under control, and a host of other positive health outcomes. In order to hack sleep, you have to set a routine. I’m asleep by 9 p.m. and I wake up to watch the sun rise. Watching the sun rise is beautiful, and it’s a net positive that I’m grateful for. If your brain can’t calm down while you’re trying to fall asleep, tell yourself, “I’m proud of the work I accomplished today, I’m going to let my brain and body rest now.” Or try other trusted get-to-sleep-ASAP methods, including cutting back on alcohol (since people who booze more sleep less). 

3 Tips to Achieve Your Goals

1. Visualize it.

Whatever it is you most want to be doing, you must be able to see yourself doing it. For most of us, the work we do while procrastinating is probably the work we should be doing for the rest of our lives. Practice visualizing this concept with your eyes closed for a few seconds. Where are you working? What’s the room like? What’s the temperature like? How’s the lighting? How do you feel? Are you drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of water? What time of the day is it? The more senses you involve the better. Keep imagining this for yourself in order to increase the likelihood of these visions becoming reality.

2. Believe in it.

You have to believe that you already have everything you need to be successful. Remember: You don’t need money to try out an idea. There are plenty of free and low-cost ways to get started with all kinds of projects—social media, blogging, smartphone apps, or fundraising sites, just to name a few. And when it comes to having the courage and can-do spirit to get going, well, that’s something you already have in spades.

3. Talk it up.

Talk about what you do everywhere you go. You won’t believe the people you stumble upon who are willing to help. Whatever pain you’re healing or problem you’re solving or project you’re launching, share your knowledge and experiences with everyone who can benefit from them. When you help as many people as you can, those people will connect you to all kinds of resources—everything you need to get started. Just let it happen, and smile as often as possible.

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