It’s easy these days to find advice on positivity and how to achieve it, and a lot of what’s out there is excellent. Many sources, however, boil down to one key concept: willpower. With the magic of willpower, you can decide to be happy and optimistic, or power through the steps to getting there! The conundrum? Recent research has revealed a few unfavorable facts about willpower: how much you’ve got appears to stay stable from childhood, and willpower regularly depletes.
Mood isn’t something that can easily be imposed. We all want to be happy, but sometimes we’re simply not. For me, the “off” days tend to yield little accomplishment, which only leads to further stress and unhappiness. It’s a vicious cycle.
Allow me to now embrace a cliche: it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few simple habits that will help you achieve a positive mindset – however you’re feeling today – and reap the rewards that follow.
Read (or watch or listen to) Something Inspirational
In my experience, the best way to switch off the glum is to seek inspiration. Fortunately, it’s all around us. In our modern time, a pick-me-up is as close as the nearest Wifi or bookshelf. Or, you know, you could go outside.
My high school psychology teacher once delivered a
rant lecture I’ll never forget. Here’s a summary: Depressed teenagers (basically the entire class) seek out depressing music when they’re depressed (basically all the time.) And that’s stupid. If depressed teenagers were smart enough to listen to upbeat music when depressed, they would be happier!
Harsh, but so true.
Note that you don’t need to wait until something bad happens to seek a dose of positivity. I find it helpful to read something inspirational first thing every morning. Some other options: turn on uplifting music while you get ready, have an inspirational quote delivered to your inbox, or start the day with scripture or a favorite devotional. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes!
Make 11 AM Your Most Important Deadline
This is one of my favorite tips from Tim Ferris’s book, The 4-Hour Workweek. He recommends that to optimize productivity while decreasing work time, deadlines should not be at four or five in the afternoon but rather at eleven in the morning. This is accompanied by advice to eliminate or delegate as many tasks as possible, leaving only what you yourself absolutely must do.
With this in mind, I personally only apply this deadline to my highest-priority task of the day. To do the same, follow these steps:
- Determine your 3 highest-priority tasks for a given day.
- Rank these tasks in order of importance.
- If possible, assign an 11 AM deadline to your #1 task.
If you’re like me and your highest-priority task is something you’ve been putting off forever because you loathe doing it, this is remarkably similar to the popular adage “swallow the frog.” The point is that once you’ve gotten it out of the way, the burden is no longer there. No matter how you spend the rest of your day, you’ve already accomplished what’s most important (or dreadful). How’s that for positivity?
Create and Maintain a Positive Environment
“We make the world we live in and shape our own environment.”
~ Orison Swett Marden
It’s no secret that environment has a huge impact on both mood and behavior. Personally, I find a cluttered, chaotic space skyrockets my stress. When my space is perfectly clean and ordered, I’m actually bored. Believe me: bored is a novel feeling when you have a toddler!
The trouble is, maintaining a clean, organized space takes work. Sure, there are fancy gadgets and boxes that can help, but there’s no shortcut for keeping things tidy. The best method is often to tidy as you go along, whether that means putting things away and tackling messes as you work or doing a quick clean-up at the end of each day. You’ll thank yourself when the massive clutter pile never comes, because who needs to deal with that before they can tackle their daily to-dos?
Aside from keeping things neat, I’m a big believer in designing space to suit its purpose. Pay attention to colors and the moods they evoke. Is there a certain kind of art that inspires you? Hang it in your office. Do you enjoy listening to soft music to lull you to sleep? Make sure your bedroom is equipped.
I painted the office I share with my husband light green, a shade I find both uplifting and serene. My side of the room also features several colorful butterflies on the wall, because I like them and they inspire me. Do whatever you need to make your space work for you.
Finally, I’m also a big believer in simplicity and minimalism. Figure out what you really need and love and toss the rest. You’ll be surprised by how smoothly your life will function… and how much easier it is to keep the positivity alive!