Trying to bring positive energy into my life used to feel pointless.
I would hear that old saying “always look on the bright side of life” and get so mad.
How can I look on the bright side when there’s another panic attack right around the corner?
How can it be a positive thing that I can’t keep my shit together long enough to sleep through the night without waking up to pace the floor?
There’s no way that thinking about all sunshine and rainbows is going to help me get through tomorrow without having to lay down on the bathroom floor and take a nap from so much adrenaline running through my body all day.
It wasn’t until I learned the power of 1% daily improvement that I realized how much of an impact positive thinking would have on my anxiety and overall quality of life.
What is positive thinking?
Positive thinking is a little misleading at first blush. You might think that it means to always look at the world through rose-colored glasses and never feeling sad or angry.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean to ignore or avoid negative situations, it just means to stay focused on making the best of the hand you’ve been dealt.
You’ve heard the saying “I can’t control my circumstances but, I can control my reaction to them”?
That’s exactly the premise of positive thinking.
Now, I mentioned the concept of 1% improvement a moment ago. The idea is to focus on improving your mindset by 1% each day.
In other words, you don’t have to drop everything and only focus on positivity. That literally does not work. And, you could be setting yourself up to feel like a failure when it doesn’t work.
Instead, you set a goal to improve your mindset to bring positive energy by 1% per day.
What does that look like?
It might be something like, yesterday you went to the mailbox and on your way back you thought about how sad it would be for your family if you got hit by a car while you were standing at the mailbox.
Today, you go to check the mailbox and on the way back you make it a point to bring positive energy into your mind by thinking about how grateful you are to be able to take three deep breaths right in this moment.
Tomorrow, you go to check the mailbox and on the way back you bring positive energy into your mind by thinking about how grateful you are to be able to take three deep breaths and to be able to see how beautiful the sky looks right at this moment.
Each day, you improve your mindset and bring positive energy in by 1% more.
Your situation may not be ideal, or overall positive, or even safe. But, you can find 1% more each day to feel grateful for and that 1% compounds daily to build your confidence and smooth out your anxiety.
Does positive thinking really work?
By focusing on increasing your level of positive thinking a little bit each day, you set yourself up for massive shifts towards a better quality of life.
According to a study done at Johns Hopkins Medicine, bringing positive energy into your life has many health benefits, including:
- Longer life span
- Less stress
- Lower rates of depression
- Increased resistance to the common cold
- Better stress management and coping skills
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
- Increased physical well-being
- Better psychological health
How could this be?
Some theorize that, when your focus is to bring positive energy into your life, you are naturally more active and optimistic about life in general.
You exercise more, eat better, and have an overall more positive outlook on your future. In other words, you try harder because you believe that your efforts are worth it.
Since anxiety is usually rooted in negative thoughts or obsessive worry and overthinking, it stands to reason that reframing those thoughts to find a positive perspective would have a tremendous impact.
The health benefits are a lovely bonus. Not only are you improving your immune system through positive thinking but, you are going easy on yourself by removing the stress and inflammation of anxiety.
Imagine how your quality of life would grow if your focus was to bring positive energy to yourself through positive thinking, which in turn calmed anxiety and improved your overall health!?
I mean, c’mon, right!?
That is exactly why I was so wrong about rainbows and sunshine when I quickly dismissed positive thinking as a resource for anxiety relief.
It’s so much bigger than that.
Can positive thinking change your life?
Positive thinking opened my mind to the idea that anxiety was not a curse … it was my superpower.
Mindfully looking for a positive perspective in all of the bad things that were plaguing my life, meant facing my anxiety.
I had to stare at it right in the face and find the positive.
And, that was really fucking hard.
My anxiety had robbed me of so much. It took my voice. My confidence. And, my identity.
Where was the POSITIVE in any of that?
Well, without a voice, confidence or identity where was I?
I was the most vulnerable that I could be.
And, had been for decades.
What can you learn from living in fear and vulnerability for the majority of your life?
You become uniquely qualified to deal with stress on a level that most people would completely fold under.
When you start to lean into your vulnerability (read: anxiety) and embrace it as your cape and tights, you realize that you are all that you need to get through the panic, the sadness, the day.
You learn just how resilient and strong you actually are.
I’m not saying that I don’t have anxiety anymore. And, I just had the beginnings of a panic attack seven days ago.
But, when I start to overthink or have negative images, I am mindful and I reframe them to bring positive energy that washes over them.
When I felt the beginnings of a panic attack last week, I said to myself, “I’ve been here before and I can do this”. I surrendered and waited for the panic to rise and envelope me.
But, guess what?
It never did.
As soon as I stood up to it and said, “I know you’re here and I know I can handle this”. It completely went away.
And, after I didn’t overthink why it happened or how to prevent it from happening again.
I just thought, “I am so grateful to be able to hear the sound of their laughter” (my kids were in the backseat playing a game and laughing)
Making a commitment to bring positive energy to your life will change things in ways that you never imagined.
It will raise your vibration and bring a greater level of love, strength, and happiness to your life that will make you wonder why you didn’t start it sooner.
50 Daily Activities To Bring Positive Energy To Your Life During Crisis
- Spend time with people who make you laugh
- Spend time in nature
- Focus on gratitude and practice daily
- Make acts of kindness part of your routine
- Laugh as much as possible
- Practice meditation
- Set a timer and take deep breaths several times per day
- Find the positive in every situation … even if it takes you a while to get there
- Keep a journal and don’t dwell on negative
- Use affirmations daily for positive self-talk
- Talk to a friend, coach, support group, or therapist
- Exercise (take a walk, yoga, pilates, etc)
- Turn on the music and dance
- Get good sleep (7 to 9 hours per night)
- Take a mental health day (read a book, watch movies, etc. This is not a day for organizing closets or deep cleaning your pantry. Just relax)
- Stay mindful
- Celebrate your wins (Improving 1% each day is a journey. Celebrate each time you do it and feel proud of yourself)
- Set goals and work each day towards them
- Use an accountability tool
- When you see people, think about one thing you like about them (looks, outfit, hair, personality, walk, etc)
- Stay mindful of your posture
- Compliment others
- Sing out loud whenever you can
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Set boundaries with negative people
- Use growth mindset reframes (Don’t say “This job sucks and I hate my boss” instead say, “I will find a new job and in the meantime, I will learn as much as I can from this one”)
- Keep it in perspective (instead of saying, “I don’t have time.” say, “It’s not a priority for me” and see how your motivation changes)
- Practice self-love (write in a journal every day how much you love yourself and appreciate specific things about yourself)
- Let go of the past (follow The Work by Byron Katie and rewrite your story to release what you can’t change)
- Don’t overextend yourself (it’s okay to say no if you mean no. you don’t have to be all the things to all the people)
- Practice visualization (visualize all of the things that could go right … instead of what could go wrong)
- Relax your face (often we go through our day with a scowl and don’t even realize it. Set a timer to check-in with your face and relax it)
- Embrace your anxiety as your superpower and surrender to your inner strength
- Realize that your current self is just your future self in progress (define your future self and work towards becoming her)
- Be aware of what you need (Do you need peace and quiet for an hour a day? Do you need girls night once a week? Do you need a solid yoga routine? Be aware of what you need to stay full)
- Do what you can to live clutter-free
- Practice grounding exercises
- When you feel inner conflict coming up … surrender
- Acknowledge that you are enough
- Listen to music that makes you feel happy
- Watch movies and shows that are uplifting or inspiring
- Find a hobby that makes you happy and spend time doing it each day
- Add plants to your home and living space
- Get a pet
- Incorporate aromatherapy into your day
- Don’t worry about making others happy … do you boo
- Eat clean
- Stay hydrated
- Give your anger and sadness space … but don’t dwell (if you’re mad, feel mad and then do what you need to do to move on. If you’re sad, have a good cry and then do what you need to do to move on)
- Create a vision board to keep you mindful of positive thinking
- Practice recapping (use your journal to write down each day 5 things that happened that day that were positive and then 5 things that were not positive but, find the positive for each)
Pick one of these daily activities to start today. Then, tomorrow do that one plus one more and so on. Pretty soon, you will find yourself naturally mindful and positive and feeling less anxiety and more happiness.