by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
A positive attitude can help in the worst situation—but keeping one isn’t always easy. Fostering a positive attitude is wise anytime, and essential during troubled times. Don’t lie there and let a barrage of worrisome thoughts fill your mind and take your mood hostage. Here are seven ways to set a positive tone for your day.
Seven steps for a positive attitude
1. Start the night before. This one’s a no-brainer. Devise a strategy that focuses your mind and make you productive, and then stick to it. Maybe that means making routines easier so that you’re out the door without frustration. You could lay out the next day’s clothing and accessories, fill the car with gas, or pack a work lunch. Knowing things are ready can help you sleep better too. And keeping a positive attitude is simpler when you’re well-rested. For others, letting go of the current day’s stress with a good laugh helps. Read something funny, or watch light TV. The show, America’s Funniest Home Videos, comes to mind. What can you do the night before that will make your morning go easier?
2. Give yourself more time. That doesn’t have to mean jumping out of bed. Waking ten minutes early to read a good book can fill your mind with poetic images. Meditating over a daily devotional or scripture can calm the mind and inspire a peaceful day—no matter what’s happening around you. Or you could rise early for an activity that’s good for you or makes you happy. Walk the dog, do tai chi, ride a bicycle, or write a poem that depicts your day. What can you plan ahead to make your morning easier more focused, or fun?
There once was a woman whose grin
matched the tilt of her chin.
3.. Get out of your rut. Morning routines are useful, but change can be good for a positive attitude. Something as simple as taking your coffee outdoors where you can enjoy birdsong, notice the sky, and witness the world awaken around you can set a more connected or even spiritual tone. That’s better than a media breakfast of bad news and all that’s wrong in the world. If you give yourself extra morning time, getting out of a rut can include useful tasks, too. Fill the bird feeders, water the plants, clean out your handbag or briefcase, put new rugs in the bathroom, or set a pretty dinner table you can come home to.
4. Change your perspective. Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, shift your thinking. You can choose to dread your full day of appointments and suffer a bad mood. Or, you can choose to find the good. Look at each calendar entry and remind yourself of the “why” behind each one. Do you have a doctor’s appointment? Going means you’re taking care of yourself, which supports you in doing what’s most important to you. Do you have clients all day? You’re doing an important job that helps others and provides you with income to achieve your dreams.
In each of these scenarios, it helps to focus on positive aspects of the people you’ll see, too. Maybe your doctor’s bedside manner is gruff. What’s one thing you do like? Is he/she the top in that field? Maybe you don’t like the long wait, but your doctor lets you ask a lot of questions when you’re finally seen. In the case of appointments with clients, find one thing you can appreciate about each person. A tone of appreciation can help convey customer service and care that might even change the client’s attitude for the better.
5. Be mindful. Be aware of troubling thoughts. Notice when your mind wanders down dark alleys of emotional pain, worries, or overwhelming to-do lists or troubles. Take notice. Accept the feelings. Then purposely turn to a plan of action, something you can feel grateful for or look forward to in your day. Tell yourself, “I’ve got this.”
6. Practice gratitude. We often hear about the value of keeping a gratitude journal we write in each night. Try thinking of a few things you’re grateful each morning instead—it sets up a grateful tone that fosters a positive attitude. Are you grateful for a flavorful cup of coffee or slept well? Maybe your thankful for a caring partner to start the day with, or that rain arrived to water the garden. What can you remind yourself your grateful for?
7. Remember who you are. In my book, Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children, readers are encouraged to remember who they are and what’s in their heart. Write down a positive statement that gets to the core of who you are, your essence as a human being. Then, look at that statement each morning. Reminding yourself who you really are without all the trappings of work, position, and others’ needs provides focus and fosters a positive attitude.
Here are a few example statements:
* I live a life of prayer, which helps me demonstrate grace to myself and others.
* Even in the tensest moments, I find what’s funny. I can make people laugh.
* I notice what others miss or what doesn’t get done, so I often pick up the slack. It feels good to help.
* I am a good listener, and because of that, I have insights to share.
A Positive attitude helps
Having a positive attitude has been linked to better cardiovascular health, longer life, less depression, and more effective coping during times of stress. Help yourself to a positive attitude—and help yourself.