Daily life can be extremely stressful, especially the last year or two, and the unhealthy ways we often deal with that stress can lead to health problems, relationship conflicts, and even a feeling of hopelessness.
While studies have shown that optimistic people live longer and enjoy better health than pessimists, it’s important to note that optimism comes more naturally to some personality types than to others. Some of us (raises hand) have to work at it a little more to look on the bright side and reap those happiness benefits. Here are a few ways I’ve found to turn the dial-up on positivity.
1) Turn off the news
That’s not to say you should never watch the news. But you need to give yourself substantial breaks from it. So consider throwing on something else that makes you happy, whether it’s classical music or lighthearted movies on Netflix.
2) Surround yourself with optimists
Have you ever had lunch with a friend and felt much worse afterwards? Moods—whether they’re good or bad—can spread like wildfire. So be careful who you spend time with, and how much. And plan lunch with a bubbly friend, or get coffee with your cousin who radiates joy.
3) Laugh more
Laughter releases endorphins and creates positive connections. It also just plain feels great! Fold humor into your day by listening to funny podcasts, watching your favorite comedians online, or reading humorous books and articles. You’ll find it’s harder to be a pessimist when you’re chuckling.
4) Practice gratitude
Think about keeping a daily journal to write down what you’re thankful for, even if it’s just on the “notes” section of your phone.
5) Let go of worry—and hold onto faith
Belief and hope are weapons in your arsenal which can help you overcome negativity and pessimism. Many of the optimistic women I know told me they make time to read and memorize scripture.
So how can you integrate more faith (and therefore less pessimism) into your everyday life? One friend told me she writes inspiring quotes and verses on sticky notes, then places the verses and quotes where she can see them while getting ready for the day. Other women I know listen to the Bible while exercising (another great endorphin-booster!) or doing household tasks.
I love to listen to Christian music or podcasts while I’m driving around town doing errands.
6) Plan (at least) one joyful activity a day.
Your joyful activity might be as simple as staring up at the stars on a clear evening. That’s what works for Madalyn Cano, who adds, “I like to watch the sun rise and set. I love looking at the nighttime sky. I think about the One who masterfully put this all in place, and how everything around us really works marvelously together.”
Tell me in the comments: what’s one joyful activity you plan to do today?
Want more encouragement from Dena? Check out her FREE e-book, Grace for the Race: Devotions for Busy Moms.
OR head on over to the Books page for more of Dena’s writing!