Although I am naturally a very positive person, there are times when I get down. I’ve learned that life throws curve balls frequently and staying negative never gets me where I want to go. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself back to a positive state of mind but there are methods that I use that really help. Here are 6 things that I do to stay positive even when life is hard.
Expressing gratitude to God, to people around me and to myself in my journal has helped me to cope in difficult times. I frequently write lists of things I am grateful for in my journal. Writing things I am grateful for in the moment I am feeling down helps me focus on the positive. Going back and reading what I was grateful for at an earlier time is also helpful.
One of the things we have done is to go around the dinner table at night and say one thing we are grateful for from that day. I love hearing the small and simple things that my kids appreciate. They remind me that there is always something I can express gratitude for.
Other ways to be grateful include saying a prayer where you do nothing but express gratitude. I’ve tried this and it’s actually kind of hard. It really does help me to remember the things I have been blessed with, though.
When negative thoughts start to crowd my mind, I run for my scriptures. Sometimes I pick up where I last left off and keep reading. I have even just opened up the scriptures to a random page and started reading. I don’t always find exactly what I am looking for using this method but just opening the book seems to get me going, even when I don’t feel like reading. Another way I find comfort in the scriptures is to read all of the scriptures related to a certain word that has something to do with what I am struggling with.
I also have my favorite verses that I go back to time and time again. Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 has helped me through many difficult times.
I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
Be Negative for 5 Minutes
Many years ago, when I was serving as a missionary for my church, I was having an incredibly hard time being positive. I was facing lots of challenges, and it seemed that every time I turned around, something else was going wrong. During a monthly interview, I shared my discouragement with my mission leader.
He gave me a piece of advice that I have used ever since. He said that it was okay to get down, but I could only stay down for five minutes, then I had to get back up and keep going. His advice was exactly what I needed to hear. Even today, when I start to get depressed or feel like everything is going wrong, I think in my head, “You’ve got five minutes.” Sometimes I have literally set a timer for five minutes and let myself be down.
It’s amazing what happens when I spend five minutes being negative. I realize it’s not a place I want to be, and when the five minutes are up I’m usually ready to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get going.
Look for the Good
When we were in the middle of our financial struggles, I found that looking for the good things that were coming out of the situation really helped me to cope. I realized that my kids were learning how to not feel entitled to things. I was happy about that. I thought about how having less money had forced me to learn new skills to save money. Learning to sew is one example of a skill I learned that has been such a blessing in my life.
I really like this quote from Voltaire.
Even in the middle of imperfect situations we can be happy.
It’s a scientific fact that when you exercise your brain releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger positive thoughts and happy feelings. Working out is one of my main coping mechanisms in life. Just the other day, I got a text on my way to the gym that made me feel stressed out. The text caused me to start dwelling on the negativity of a situation in my life. I walked into the gym feeling frustrated, but an hour later I walked out feeling hopeful and positive. It really works.
You don’t have to do a full blown workout to get the endorphins going. Just get up and move. Go for a walk. Find a jump rope and start jumping. Do some sit ups. Grab a Frisbee and head to the park with your kids. Go walk your dog. Pop in your favorite workout video. In other words, you don’t have to do a formal workout at the gym to get the happy benefits that exercise can bring.
No matter what your situation, getting outside of yourself by helping someone else will help you feel more positive. I have found that focusing on someone else and helping to fill their needs takes the focus off of my own struggles.
Very recently, I woke up feeling stressed out about a situation in my life. I didn’t think the day was going to go very well. I prayed that I could find someone to serve. Just a few hours later, someone was put in my path that I was able to help. I forgot all about the thing I was worried about and I ended up having a very good day.
How do you stay positive when life is hard? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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