By: Karen Bergen B.A. (Hons); RMT; CAT; M.Ed. & Author of “Overcoming SAD: The Happy Hippie Yoga Chick's Guide to Beating Winter Flip-Out”
Several years ago I had the good fortune of traveling to Austria with my mom and my favourite aunt to visit family. My only concern was that my Austrian relatives only spoke German. I only speak English. Other than my mom and favourite aunt, I had no one to talk to. Initially I felt a little lonely, however I chose to enjoy my present state of being, and eventually basked in the solitude of silence. I experienced my entire vacation without language. It was wonderful. I didn’t experience any social awkwardness of long pauses, trying to fit in, clever conversation, or having to put up with other people’s points of view, because I was off the hook. I was just along for the ride, and all I had to do for a fortnight was smile, and take it all in.
1. Choose. (“Happiness isn’t a goal, but a by-product” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt). We choose our own happiness. Happiness depends on us, and is governed by a positive attitude. A positive attitude is like a superpower. Having one allows us to become optimistic and rise above the confines of a narrow mindset. A positive attitude permits us to keep our courage and find our faith within the moment. The only difference between a good and bad day is our attitude.
Wade Boggs commented that apositive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst that sparks extraordinary results.
Indeed, our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to it. Tough times happen, and mistakes materialize, but these are our life lessons. When we are smart, we learn from them. But when we get stuck, our attitude towards the unfortunate event is often the problem.
2. Goals. (“It doesn’t matter where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.” ~ Ela Fitzgerald). Seeing problems as opportunities help us reach our goals.
3. Potential. (“It is not the fact of accomplishing our goals that is important, but rather who we become by accomplishing them.” ~ Henry David Thoreau). Focusing on our potential, rather than limitations is key. Limitations are constructs created in our mind, and rob us of what we have.
4. Think positive. (“We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. ~ Einstein). So think differently. Surround yourself with positivity. Choose good books, nice people, funny TV shows and movies to motivate a positive mindset.
5. Fake it till you make it. Psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose ability to frown is compromised by cosmetic botox injections are happier than people who can frown. Botox recipients reported feeling happier and less anxious. Moreover, they did not report feeling any more attractive, which suggests that the emotional effects were not driven by a psychological boost that could come from the treatment’s cosmetic nature.
6. Grow an attitude of gratitude. Show our thanks, and pass it on. We never need to wait a second to do something nice. The power is in the now!
7. Practice. Changing our attitude is just like changing our mind. Choose to see the bright side. It’s a habit. Negative self talk is just a bad habit that needs an attitude adjustment. Can you imagine what our tape recorders would sound like if it recorded all our mind chatter? Yikes! Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London concluded that it takes 66 days before a new habit becomes automatic. Improving our habit is a process, and the benefits of the process are always in the practice. So practice.
8. Know what you can control, and go with the flow. (“We can’t change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” ~ Jimmy Dean). In physics, the law of inertia speaks to the importance of movement. For example, if a stream of water stops, it stagnates, but if it keeps moving, it continues on in the same direction it initially started. Similarly, people who are successful, often stay successful. People who reach their goals, often keep doing so. People who are happy, often stay happy.
9. Just do it. (“Knowing is not enough. We must do.” ~ Leonardo Divinci). Life is not about sitting on the sidelines, we need to apply what we learn.
10. Lighten up. (“Let’s just lighten up.” ~ John Gibbons). Life is not a game to win. Life is a game that simply must be played, in a moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath, step-by-gentle-step fashion.
So to finish my vacation story, the other day my mom was recalling one of it’s small details. I didn’t remember it. When she mentioned many more details, I still couldn’t recall any of it. “Karen!” she gasped. “It’s like we took separate trips!” In a way, we did. Our viewpoint is a sum of all of our choices and experiences. By choosing a positive attitude, we endeavor to move forward with an optimistic mindset.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.