Recently, I went from being depressed about changes in my life to approaching new challenges in a happier, healthier way. I attribute it all to altering how I perceived my experiences. I actively started thinking in a more positive way about the changes I was going through, and believe it or not, it had a drastic effect on my spirit, mind, and body.
Have you ever read books or watched documentaries on the “law of attraction”? The idea is that whatever you think or speak is what you will attract to yourself. If you think “today is just a bad day for me,” then you will probably be more aware of negative events and your day will continue to go downhill. However, if you change your thinking to “today will get better for me,” then you’ll be more likely to notice the good, and your mood will improve. This is an empowering concept because it suggests that we have some have control over how we feel.
A study from The Counseling Psychologist examines the myth that individuals with cancer can affect the disease process by thinking positive. While, sadly, having a positive attitude is not shown to affect physical functioning or survival rates, the study found that it can play the incredibly important role of promoting “emotional well-being and other aspects of adjustment, hereby enabling survivors to derive as much pleasure and productivity as possible from life.” In other words, positive thinking can’t take away the bad in our life, but it can really help us deal with it.
How does that resonate with you? Perhaps you are dealing with some anxiety or depression at the moment, or maybe you feel out of place and a little melancholy. Inspired by the findings in the study above, I thought of some perception-changing phrases that help me when I’m feeling down.
Instead of saying “I can’t do this,” say “How can I figure this out?”
Instead of saying “I’m not good/smart enough,” say “What steps can I take to learn how to do this?”
Instead of saying “They’ll never hire/choose me,” say “I am my best self and I am more than capable of handling this.”
Change your perception of the world around you, and your emotional reactions will follow suit. The power of positive thinking was demonstrated in a study on Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which showed that individuals who replaced thoughts of negative outcomes with thoughts of positive outcomes (for example, instead of thinking “I’m going to miss the bus,” thinking “I’m going to run and make it on time!”) experienced decreases in worry and anxiety. How cool is that?
There is no trick to positive thinking, except that practice makes perfect. Yes, it might feel silly at first. You will annoy yourself with trying to be so happy all the time, and trying to talk yourself out of feeling upset about something. You will say “this will never work.” You will laugh at yourself for doing it.
Do it anyway.
Admire the flowers in the spring. Tell your loved ones something nice about themselves that you’ve always admired. Tell someone you love them. Think about good times you’ve had with friends. When you’re angry, tell yourself it’s okay to be angry, and then try to move on. It is okay to feel like you should have, or could have, or would have done something differently if you were able to – but you have to feel it and then let it go. Let the negativity go. Find the beauty around you. Feel the energy everywhere and use it to change whatever is going on in your life that needs it.
Find the strength within to find happiness.
Zaje’ Richardson is a certified Wellness and Life Coach specializing in Life Transformation. She enjoys writing, singing, spending time with her husband and three sons, as well as spreading knowledge about total wellness in the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies. You can find her on her website, wellism.org, as well as on Instagram and Twitter, @lifecoachzaje.