Someone once told me that life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react. We can’t change the things outside of our control—how people treat us, or the curve balls life throws—but we can change our reactions. Your attitude is your choice and the choice you make can dictate your happiness.
Last year, an elementary school acquaintance was diagnosed with leukemia. He could have given up. He could have been angry at the world. He could have let the negativity of the situation control the rest of his life.
But he didn’t. Instead, he chose to stay strong and positive. He and his wife fight every day against his disease, sharing daily updates and photos where they are never without a smile and a thumbs-up. In his posts, he says that others are worse off and he is the lucky one. He is currently in remission.
Their story is just one example of this simple fact: if you change your perspective, you change your life. The steps below will help guide you towards a more positive life.
1. Start your day with a positive mind.
A positive day starts with a positive mindset. So put out into the world what you ask for in return through optimism and gratitude. For Rachel, co-founder of KOOSHOO, this means believing in the power of positive affirmations. Each morning, she says, “I love my life” out loud 11 times. Then, she says, “Life loves me” out loud 11 times. This mantra allows her to harness positive energy and let it flow throughout her dayYour affirmation is yours to choose and can be whatever you need in your life right now. Each day when you wake up, use these words to center yourself before entering into the world. Take a moment, even if it’s just 10 minutes, and go for a run, do yoga, meditate—whatever works for you to ground your mind and body as one—and repeat your affirmation as you do itWhen you envision what you want from life and project that into your everyday, the world will deliver. For videos to guide your meditation, go here for a heart-centered meditation for protection or here for a full moon meditation to help you make the right choices going forward.
2. Let energy guide your actions.
"When there is an opportunity in front of you, think about it: does it give you energy? Or does it take energy away? If it takes it away, don't do it. But if you're feeling that draw, then maybe take the leap. Let yourself do a little more, to give a little more to something that you really are energized by."
Don’t get stuck in the details of life. Overthinking is the death of creativity. Instead, let energy—whether positive or negative—guide your decisions. Find what gets your blood pumping and go for it. Acknowledge what drains you and let it fade away. If you can learn to see the forest for the trees, the pieces of your life will fall naturally into place as one.
3. Find breath in nature.
Connect with nature every single day. Nature has the power to remind us of our place in the universe, of our small role in the bigger picture, so it’s important to keep that connection alive.
Go for a hike or a run if you can. Take a walk on the beach. At the very least, step outside and take a breath. If you can’t access nature directly, close your eyes and harness it. Go to your favorite place. Channel it and breathe it.
And breathe deep. Deep breathing grounds us, just as nature does. It activates our ‘rest and digest’ (as opposed to ‘fight or flight’) reflexes, calming the nervous system and clearing our minds.
To maintain that clarity, we must also stay hydrated because hydration keeps us in the flow. Think of a plant—for it to grow and thrive, it must be watered and nurtured. Without water, it starts to shrivel and lose its energy. We are no different. When we’re hydrated, energy is flowing and moving, creating a prosperous landscape of your body and mind.
4. Step off the path most traveled.
"If you're not living a fulfilled, happy, holistic, healthy lifestyle, then what are you willing to do about it today, going forward, to make a difference for yourself? Because you have to help yourself before you can go out and help anyone else."
― Gail Warrior
Have the courage to let go of control and trust in the inevitability of your life. Your idea of control is nothing more than ego. So relinquish power and surrender to it—the more you do so, the more you’ll find yourself at peace and harmony.
Happiness comes from within and in order to activate it we must listen to what our hearts tell us. Is there a nagging desire (something that makes your heart smile) that keeps coming up that you find excuses not to pursue? Maybe it’s moving to a new country. Maybe it’s taking a pottery class. Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, the sooner you stop trying to fight it, the happier and more fulfilled you’ll be.
5. Be the company you keep.
It is said that you are the reflection of the five people you spend the most time with. Take stock of your closest social circle and ask yourself:
Do you like what you see?
Are these people you aspire to be like?
Do they lift you up to your fullest self?
Or do they hold you back?
Toxic relationships can be as hazardous to your health as poor diet or smoking. These harms can include increased risk of heart problems, greater risk of stress and depression, adrenal fatigue, and more.
On the other end of the spectrum, positive and supportive relationships boost our mental and physical well being, which encourages us to live our most complete lives.
We sometimes keep certain people in our lives for the wrong reasons—like a childhood friend or even a relative—even though they are no longer aligned with our values or mindset.
It’s not easy, but try to make conscious decisions to surround yourself with those you aspire towards, and distance yourself from those who bring you down. And then share, connect, uplift and care for those around you, just as they will do for you.
One of the most poignant pieces we've ever read on the preciousness of life was written by an end-of-life care worker. After 30 years of helping people transition from life, she summarized the 5 most common regrets of the dying, a piece you can read right here.
6. End your day with gratitude.
At the end of each day, make a list of what you’re grateful for. Grateful people are proven to be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. So celebrate your day and yourself by capturing—in a journal or just out loud—all that you’re grateful for from the day that’s been. This helps to highlight and amplify the good things growing in your life. Where you focus energy, things will thrive.
When you live and breathe with a positive mind, you rewire your brain to more readily fire those positive connections, which helps bring that optimism into your every day. You’re creating a feedback loop where a positive mind feeds a positive life.
Gratitude can change your life in profound and fascinating ways – click here to learn how.