Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Looking On The Bright Side

“What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself” - Mark Twain

Years ago, I was at a workshop and the speaker told a story about how she was running late, but stopped on her way out of her hotel room to quickly apply mascara to her eyes. Her hand slipped and she poked herself in the eye with the wand. Her immediate reaction was to bring her hand to her wounded eye, stomp her feet and call her reflection in the mirror, “Stupid!”

She stopped herself, realizing what she had just said. It would not have been acceptable for someone else to reprimand her in that way over something as trivial as slipping while applying mascara. So why was it okay for her to beat herself up for the same mistake?

Our minds never stop working- we are in constant communication with ourselves; always thinking, reviewing, analyzing, guessing, processing and drawing conclusions about everything that our senses gather. We may not be able to control everything that happens in our world, or what other people do and think, but we can control our perspective, how we act, and what WE think.

Perspective has a huge impact on the person you are, and -ultimately- all that you are able to accomplish in your life.  Fortunately, what we choose to think is totally within our control and postive attitudes can be easily adopted and an optimistic outlook- through practice- can become second nature.

Some Tips for Becoming an Optimist:

1) Become aware of your thoughts- especially your negative ones. You may take a day and write down every negative thought you have. Take some time to review and analyze your negativity. What situation were you in when you had a negative thought? Was your assessment realistic? What other thoughts could you have had in that moment that would have shown more gentleness and kindness toward yourself? What would you say to someone else if they were you in those moments where you were negative?

2) Replace every negative thought with 2 positive ones.

3) Look for the silver lining – you can find something good in even the worst situations. Sometimes the good part is how YOU decide to respond.

4) Allow yourself to be human and make mistakes! It is okay that you are not perfect (Nobody is!)

5) Find joy in small things. Engage those senses!. Feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, the sound of children’s laughter, the taste of ice cream, a beautiful painting, a hug!

6) If you are feeling insecure about how something will transpire or end, take a moment and visualize yourself in a positive, successful outcome.

7) If you are feeling insecure about your ability to do or cope with something, take some time to think about your strengths and remind yourself that you only have to manage moment by moment.

8) Do something nice for yourself regularly. By treating yourself to a bouquet of flowers, a manicure, a new purse or even 15 minutes of meditation, you are sending yourself a beautiful message about your self-worth.

9) Speak and think kindly about others. We are all in this life-thing together. We all have our crosses to bear and our insecurities. Gossip and negativity toward other people, reinforces an ugly way of thinking- practice positive thoughts about yourself and others and these will come natural to you over time.

10) Encourage others to speak positively about themselves and help them to visualize positive outcomes.  Surround yourself with positive, happy people.   Optimism is contagious!

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