Creating a Positive Outlook

 
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I’ve always considered myself to be a relatively positive person. Despite dealing with anxiety and depression, I can usually maintain at least a smattering of hope that gets me through the day. However, lately I’ve noticed that positivity doesn’t come as easily to me as it once did. I’ve found it harder to find the silver linings and dream big for the future. It just seems exhausting.

I noticed that even small moments of positivity have become harder. If a grocery store cashier asks me how I’m doing, I respond that I’m doing well. But if a friend or coworker asks, I stop and think. This habit I think arose out of an effort to check in on myself—some days I’ll get caught up in work and other tasks that I won’t actually know how I’m doing. So I do a gut check. How am I doing? “Hanging in there,” “It’s been a busy week” (promptly followed by “Sarah, it’s only Tuesday”), or the classic “I’m okay,” followed by a grimace.

Reading Shannon Ables’ new book, Living The Simply Luxurious Life, the other night, I really considered her section on optimism and positivity, and started thinking about my own actions. I realized I haven’t been acting very positively lately.

 Even picking up the latest edition of Country Living magazine highlighted to me just how pessimistic I’ve become. The cover touts ones of the themes of the edition: Live your dreams. In the past, those words have been my bread and butter, probably coming first into my daily vernacular once I started following Carly Heitlinger from Carly the Prepster. In her earlier blogging days, she frequently wore a wrist cuff printed with “Live Your Dreams.” I loved that idea; it inspired me.

The issue of Country Living further looks at some of the ways people are living their dreams. Starting their own flower farms, living above their antique shop, raising baby goats. All of those dreams sound delightful, but really hit me hard was “moving to the English countryside.” I immediately felt my heart sing at reading that, identifying my own dream.

For the past 2.5 years, I’ve spent many nights lulling myself to sleep with my own personal fairytales of moving to the countryside, in a lovely farmhouse or cottage, raising all of the dogs, cats, and chickens I could imagine. Many nights I’ve envisioned how I would decorate different rooms and what plants I would put in the garden. In my dream, my first move to the country would still be stateside, but then I would make the big leap to England in retirement, living out my twilight years in the place my heart calls home.

 But while the dreams are there, the belief fueling them has dwindled. After two years of living in a tiny city that’s in a suburb of a major city, my dreams of the countryside seem further away than ever, often buckled down by what I think of realities of daily life. What would my husband do for a living? How would we maintain our gardens and pets? Would we feel isolated from everyone else?

With these thoughts top of mind, I’ve begun to reexamine the positivity I put toward my daily life and living my dreams. Maybe it’s time to stop getting caught up in the minutiae and start believing again with my whole heart, so I came up with the following ideas to put a little positive pep in my step.

Four Ideas for Increased Positivity

Start telling people I’m doing well—with a smile

Unless there is a sincere situation where I’m feeling overwhelmed or off course, I think others would rather hear that I’m doing well. And the more that I tell people that I’m doing well, complete with a smile the more likely I am to believe. After all, they do say just the act of smiling makes you happier.

Build a vision board

I’ve read on a few occasions that vision boards can both be really helpful in achieving your dreams and a hinderance if you get too stuck in the weeds. Keeping that in mind, I’d like to make either a digital or paper vision board where I can see my dreams on a daily basis as a reminder to keep dreaming. Starting a board on Pinterest might be a good start!

Continue gratitude journaling

Almost two months ago, I purchased The Five Minute Journal as a way to build a daily journaling practice that includes writing what I’m grateful for, but didn’t require a lot of commitment. I’ve found in the past that when I have blank journal pages awaiting me to write in, I feel more pressure to write extensively, with thoughtful insights and neat handwriting. While I still write in a blank journal when I need to clear my brain, I enjoy having expectations on what I need to write on the page much more inviting.

Consuming positive content and media

Since 2016, I’ve significantly cut down on the amount of news I take in. More often than not, it just leaves me feeling upset and frustrated. I’ve also found it beneficial to only watch things that I know will be uplifting, like my current favorite comedy, Brooklyn 99, or a “dramedy” like my beloved The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  I stay away from stories that are upsetting or are destined to end in disaster, much like A Star Is Born.

 

Part of the battle in increasing positivity lies in making that process enjoyable. Trying to reverse your negative Nancy persona overnight is going to be exhausting and likely color your world view even darker.

 
Sarah Walsh