*This post was written a few weeks ago and was scheduled for today. I always want to encourage you to have self-care and that’s the point of view this was originally written for. But this week has admittedly turned grey for a lot of people and we all need positivity and kindness shown to us and through us. I added the second part to this post this morning. Make no mistake this post is not about the political race that ended this week, but about one thing only: the human race. I hope no matter your political views nor mine you can read this post as not for one side, but for every side. Carry on.
Since turning 30 the best thing I’ve come to realize is that I have the choice to be happy no matter what comes my way. I’ve also learned that life gives you two options: the things you can control and the things you can not control. And how you handle both can make a huge impact on you and those around you. I learned a lot about mental health in my 20s, and I’m putting those lessons to good use in my 30s.
It might sound strange but there really is something quite magical about turning 30 — you just start to let things go. The little things first and then slowly but surely the bigger things don’t pull you down quite like they used to. I like to keep a motto around our house — positive vibes only. And you can ask my husband about this — I am the most strict when it comes to this motto. I truly believe in keeping things positive, no matter what. Now, of course, I’m human and sometimes the bad mood struggle is real but my goal is still the same: the positive is there and I choose to see it. Having positive thoughts is more than just being blindly happy all the time — although I would gladly take a dose of that, please — it’s more about being strategic with your thoughts. Your brain is a powerful thing, my friends. Use it to your advantage.
Here is how I like to keep it positive around here.
This is single handedly the best way to pull me out of a real negative free fall. Being thankful is a simple but powerful thing. And I don’t mean going down the list of what you have and saying #blessed — I mean being grateful for you, for your life, and sure for what you have and maybe even what you don’t have. In fact, I like to have a focal point that always reminds me to be thankful. For me, that is my family, that is my husband. Even if the days are long and have been better before, find your gratefulness and focus on that.
This is a two-way street as well, not only being grateful for your life or where you are at, but being grateful to others. Saying thank you and sharing your gratefulness — even for the smallest things — makes your world and someone else’s brighter. It’s small, it’s simple, and it makes a difference.
Be your biggest fan.
I find that as women we are taught to see our flaws first instead of our good first. I, for one, am hyper-aware of my flaws, constantly picking at them like sores and trying my best to heal them. One time I was standing in the mirror just picking myself apart, I mean being the biggest mean girl you’ve ever heard. I didn’t realize my husband was in the room and he finally had had enough. ‘You are so mean to yourself’ he said to me, not disgusted or disappointed but just kind of sad. I realized that if anyone else were to say those things to me I would not listen, so why do I say them to myself? Then it clicked — I’m obviously listening to my own thoughts, so why not turn those thoughts positive.
If there is a change that I can make, make it. If there is something I can not change, love it. It’s a simple concept, but hard to embrace. I work every day to be nice and positive to myself, just as I would a friend. After all, if I can’t love myself, how can I love others?
Turn a negative into a positive.
I would say 98% of the sh*t that happens to you in life that there is a lesson to learn from it. May it be leaving your keys locked in a running car (been there, done that, on a country road with no one around) or messing up on a huge project at work, there are lessons to be learned. At one of my very first jobs, it was my responsibility to send out a very large and detailed report of sales data. If I missed one number, something would be off and inaccurate and when sending a report to all of the VPs and directors in the company, you do not want to send inaccuracies. I was usually very good at this report but I also loved to do things fast and last minute (those tend to go hand in hand with me). Well there was this one lady there who loved to correct my report via reply all. I would get so hot with embarrassment because the mistakes would be small but important. Instead of being bitter to this woman who liked to reply all to make a point, I learned to be better — take my time, check my work twice, then pray to God every time I hit send on that report. I chose to be better, not bitter. (ok maybe a tiny bit bitter in the moment, if we are being real…)
The point is there are two sides to most things and finding the negative is the easiest route every time. But finding the positive, while it might take a bit more brain power, it will make you and your day much better. I’m positive about that.
For me, I like to have a few mini mantras on hand as tiny pep talks when I need them. One of my favorites as of late is ‘beautiful girl, you can do hard things’ (did I pick this up from Pinterest? You bet your pin boards I did.) So if I’m doing something that makes me nervous, or something that’s hard to accomplish, or I’m riding my bike up a hill and really regret the decision, this mantra comes in handy. It’s just a verbal reminder to myself to keep going, to be better, to keep my thoughts high. (I joke about pinterest but I find many mantras there that I like to think on. There are lots of positive vibes on there!)
When I’m feeling low or grumpy or any other negative vibe word you can insert here, this small little voice tells me to stop it and get up. I am really, really good at ignoring that voice and do sometimes. But many times the best thing I can do for a bad day or mood is to do something — anything. Go for a walk, call a friend, make your bed, drink a coffee, watch your favorite show, walk around Target for forever, bake cookies, read a book, sing at the top of your lungs in your car even if someone is watching at the stop light. Literally anything that makes you happy. And sometimes you need to find first what makes you happy, but when you do, use these little (and many times free) tools to make yourself smile again.
I will say this — somedays are just bad. Some days are hard to handle, so when these hard days come I give myself 24 hours to be mad or angry or sad or whatever it is I’m feeling and I don’t fight it. I let myself wallow and cry and drag it out and beat the bush so dead that even I’m tired of it. I get all of my feelings out. And then? I move on. Sometimes that wallowing doesn’t even take a full day, because I’m getting better at feeling my feels and finding the positive. Which leads me to my next point…
Practice, practice, practice.
Being positive and keeping on to top of your thoughts takes practice. It’s a discipline. And when you feel yourself getting to a negative place, it takes effort to stop those thoughts and return to being positive and hopeful. You have to be aware of your thoughts, like a friend in constant conversation. Treat your thoughts friendly and they will treat you friendly back.
I’ve been working on making my head a happy place to live for years and it’s a day by day choice. And it’s turning out to be the perfect place to be.
The second part to this post is how you can take your happy thoughts and make someone else happy too. Kindness is a currency that we can exchange without losing our own investment. It’s not always easy, but it’s simple to give. In fact, I like to try to — whenever I can — do something for someone else each day. May it be a compliment on your shoes or dress or lipstick or hair (they are all great by the way), or something even more simple like letting someone in my packed lane during rush hour and not being a jerk about it. All of these little things make our world better because the small adds up to the big.
I like to think that showing kindness to one another shows equality. By holding open a door, you are saying ‘you first, then me.’ By giving up your seat on the subway for someone else, you first, then me. By smiling and telling someone they look beautiful today, you have a good day first, then me. Kindness is free and it’s accepted everywhere. Here is a list of things you can do today or any day to anyone at anytime.
Volunteer. Donate money to a charity (or many). Buy someone a coffee. Buy someone a meal. Let someone have your seat. Hold a door open. Give blood. Call your mom. Hug a friend. Send a silly snapchat. Give a compliment. Send a thank you note. Send a card for no good reason. Let someone who is in a rush step in front of you. Say please. Say Thank you. A lot. Tip well and often. Return your cart to the store. Help someone unload their groceries. Listen to a friend. Love your enemy. Take donuts to work. Offer to help someone move. Stand up for someone. Smile. Laugh at someone’s really bad joke. Be patient. Help someone who is lost. Buy whatever that neighborhood kid is selling. Take a friend to the movies, your treat. Visit a nursing home. Ask how someone is doing and truly listen. Forgive someone. Hold the elevator. Volunteer to take the next flight. Keep someone company. Pick up the trash on the sidewalk. Leave a positive Yelp review. Be fair. Shop a small business. Defend the underdog. Tell someone ‘good job’. Share your phone charger. Send a surprise gift to someone. Walk someone’s dog for them. Let someone have your parking spot. Buy a friend fresh flowers. Tell someone how important they are to you. Have an open mind. Pick up something someone else dropped. Help someone cross the street. Offer to take pictures of tourists or couples. Leave a love note. Make a new friend. Become a mentor. Make someone laugh. Tell someone to ‘have a good day’ and mean it. Text someone back. Don’t cancel your plans. Buy the next round. Say thank you to public service workers. Make a playlist for a friend. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.
And the list can go on and on. Feel free to offer some suggestions and I will gladly add them here.
Be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Today and everyday, friends.