A pessimistic outlook on life isn’t something you’re born with. Negative thinking is a habit, and a very a common one that many of us fall into without even realizing it. (Myself included!)
And although breaking bad habits can be tough, changing your outlook on life doesn’t have to be. Even just acknowledging your negative thoughts is a step towards reforming them.
The key to having a positive outlook is by changing your mindset about certain values. Some mindset shifts are achieved through practice while others are as simple as adopting a new perspective.
Here are the eight most powerful mindset shifts to banish your inner Negative-Nancy for a happier and healthier you:
1. Pursue Happiness Instead of Success
The road to success can be a difficult one, with no shortage of hard work or obstacles. But we can be so focused on obtaining that job, promotion, or other “life goal” that it comes at the expense of our own happiness.
Science says that success is a product of happiness, not the other way around. If you’re happy, you’re more likely to be confident, motivated, energetic, sociable, and likable.
It makes sense. Who is more likely to succeed, someone who displays those positive traits, or someone who’s miserable with their life?
So take care of yourself. Pursue a new hobby. Spend more time with friends and family. Have fun and enjoy the journey. Search for your purpose.
2. Pledge to Serve Others
Speaking of finding purpose, there is something incredibly fulfilling about helping others. I truly believe it’s the noblest purpose you can pursue in life.
Being charitable doesn’t just positively impact the lives of others, it’s scientifically proven to make your life better too! People who pledge time or money to help others are 42% more likely to be happy than non-givers.
Philanthropy increases life satisfaction, reduces stress, improves your mood (also known as a “helper’s high”), and cultivates a feeling of community.
Research a few charities to find one that resonates with you and volunteer your time, or donate, if you can.
Or you can live a more altruistic lifestyle simply by paying attention to those around you. Look for opportunities where you can help a colleague, friend, family member, or stranger.
3. Focus on Now
One of the easiest ways to stay optimistic and motivated about your life is to focus on the present and what you can accomplish today. Yet, according to a Harvard study, we spend almost half our waking hours not thinking about the present.
Mind-wandering is a very human thing to do, but unfortunately, it also tends to make us unhappy. Whether it’s fretting about the future, or lingering on past regrets, all that mental time-traveling is robbing you of a precious gift called Now.
The other enemy of Now is procrastination. Like when you wake up in the morning with the best intentions to do your taxes and get to spin class, only to end up on an eight-hour Netflix-binge. (Guilty as charged!)
Be mindful about how you can take action on a daily basis. This could manifest in the form of a daily checklist, or even just asking yourself, “What can I do right now that will help me reach my goals?”
Then stop wasting time trying to find every ending in Bandersnatch and go do it!
4. Subscribe to Done, Not Perfect
Here’s a bit of tough love for all the self-proclaimed perfectionists out there:
Nothing you do will be perfect, because you’re human.
And if you’re holding back from doing something because it isn’t “perfect”, then you’re just creating an excuse to not follow through.
In other words, perfectionism is a form of procrastination.
That’s not to say you should rush things. Set a reasonable deadline so you can give it your best effort.
But then pull the trigger and get it done!
5. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is beneficial for both your mental and physical health. And if you have a roof over your head then you have things to be grateful for.
Yet it’s all too easy to take what we have for granted. We all do it!
Fortunately, you can strengthen your gratitude muscle through practice.
Keep a daily gratitude journal and write down three things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Or you can use meditation apps like Calm or Headspace which provide guided meditations specifically designed to cultivate gratitude.
Even these small efforts to increase your thankfulness can make a profoundly positive impact on your life.
6. Welcome Failure
People who succeed in life are seasoned failures. Even Seth Godin – a multi-millionaire entrepreneur and best-selling author – proclaims to have failed way more than he has succeeded.
The fear of failure is a common reason why we never dare to try something new that could help us to grow, or make us happier. But failure isn’t something to avoid, it’s something to welcome with open arms.
Because failure means you’re trying. Failure gets you one step closer to getting it right.
Whenever I’m afraid to do something that I know will help me grow, I push myself to follow through by reminding myself that I’d rather fail than to regret having never tried.
7. Believe You Are Capable of More
Have this one belief about yourself, and wonderful things will follow; you will dare to disrupt yourself, learn new skills, pursue your dreams, and be excited about your life.
So many people have big dreams, but they give up before even starting because they don’t believe they have what it takes to achieve them.
Listen, new skills and habits aren’t learned overnight, but if you set a daily process for yourself and commit to a goal, I promise you will amaze yourself.
To nurture a belief in your potential, set yourself up for success by breaking big goals down into smaller, bite-sized steps. Each small accomplishment will bolster your confidence and motivate you to take the next step.
8. Embrace Change
We are creatures of habit. Routines are very comfortable for us because they’re predictable and familiar. And while some routines are healthy, others are limiting.
Change tends to be something we shy away from because it threatens us with the unknown.
For example, you might want to stay in a job you have outgrown just because it feels secure and you’re not sure how you’d do in a more challenging role.
But that’s why change can be very healthy. It encourages you to push the envelope. It can help you identify a new strength, a better path, or a bigger purpose.
Change can help you become a better version of yourself.
Rather than resist and cling to what you know, embrace change as an opportunity to grow.
Your Perspective is Your Truth
We all get a different hand of cards to play in life. But it’s not our circumstances or obstacles that make us who we are. It’s how we perceive and react to them.
If life isn’t what you want it to be, you have the power to change it for the better, but it all starts with your mindset.
That’s why understanding that you have control over your perspective can be so empowering! Use these mindset shifts to help you craft your best life.