Sunnyside Up

The old joke goes like this:

A mom and dad are worried about the extreme personalities of their six-year-old twin boys —one’s a total pessimist, the other a total optimist. So they take the kids to a psychiatrist:

  

First, the shrink leads the pessimist into a room piled high with toys and announces, “All of these are yours!”But instead of squealing with delight, the kid bursts into tears. “Why are your crying?” the doctor asks. “Don’t you want to play with any of your toys?” “Yes,” the boy says, “but I’m afraid I’ll break them!”

Then, the psychiatrist takes the optimistic child into a room filled only with horse manure. Rather than run out of the room in disgust, the boy begins jumping up and down with glee, screaming “Bring me a shovel, bring me a shovel!”

“What do you need a shovel for?” the shrink asks.

“Well, with all this manure,” the little boy says, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme — but the truth is, we do in fact control our outlook on life, not the other way around. No matter how genuinely we believe that the deck is stacked against us — especially in these politically noisy and economically fraught times — doom and gloom do not control our lives — that is, unless we permit them to.

And the (really!) good news is: experts insist that we can find our way to the sunnier side of the street, simply by practicing a few easy exercises. From taking care of your body, to slightly altering your word-choices, to surrounding yourself with laughter (my favorite tip, btw), all of us can live up to Charlie Chaplin’s famous observation about happiness:

“You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”

So take a look at these tips, and see which ones work for you. And whatever you do, keeping smiling:

1) Be Grateful for What You Have:

A simple change of focus can do wonders. Rather than consistently focusing on what you don't have, take a few minutes and actually write down ten things about your life that you are grateful for. When the frustration returns, go back to that list and focus on those things.

2) Take the Focus off of Yourself:

One of the best ways to boost your mood as well as your self-esteem is to take the focus off of yourself and focus on someone else. Try to do five nice things for other people every day. Don't expect immediate payback, just remember that what goes around comes around.

3) Imagine the Person You Want to Be:

Think about your ideal version of yourself – physically, emotionally, professionally and personally. Once you have that picture in mind, start making the decisions and choices that you think that ideal version of you would be making.

4) Don't Be Afraid to Fail:

Nothing paralyzes us like fear of failure, but everyone who has ever been successful has experienced failure at some point. Don't let that fear stop you from moving forward. If things don't go your way the first time, look at what went wrong, see what you can learn from it, and then enthusiastically use those lessons going forward.

5) Don't Beat Yourself Up:

Absolutely nothing good can come from belittling or berating yourself. Negativity only begets more negativity, so you need to replace those negative voices in your head with encouraging, positive reinforcement. Be as supportive of yourself as you are to your loved ones.

6) Stay in the Moment:

If you want to be anxious and tense, spend your time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. If you want to be positive and productive, focus on the present and what you are doing today.

7) Be Open to Happiness:

It's been shown that the simple act of smiling can actually change your mood. So look for the humor in everyday life, seek out others who make you laugh, and try smiling instead of scowling when interacting with others.

8) Set Aside Some Quiet Time to Recharge:

It's hard to feel optimistic when your batteries are always run down. Make sure to set aside some time each day – even if it's just 15 minutes -- to turn off the phone, the laptop and the voices in your head. Just enjoy the stillness and the calm and see how that little kid inside is doing.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions then please do email in and share them with the site. 

Keep smiling 

Sunny x

 

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