Can positivity lead to happiness?
Sometimes life throws things at us that we just weren’t expecting. Out of the blue a massive curve-ball comes round the corner. It doesn’t even have to be something major – just something we didn’t anticipate and had no control over. What do we do?
You’re probably thinking “Where are we going with this?”. The point we’re trying to make is that, even though you had no control over the ‘curve-ball’, you now have a choice on how you respond. You can take back control.
One of your options may be to run, to stick your head under the pillow, to do anything but to face it. Another option might be to try to ignore it hoping that it will go away of its own accord and everything will go back to ‘normal’. You could focus on it and let it become all consuming. Or you could apply positivity, turn those negative thoughts on their head and break the problem down into manageable chunks. That way it’s much easier not to be overwhelmed and you’ll likely find yourself in a much stronger position to cope. As our founder, Bob Lemon, always says: “Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want”.
So how do you do this? Luckily there are many tools to help and we already cover a lot of them in our Lifeplus formula. The ones we’d particularly like to introduce you to or to remind you about are:
- mindfulness and mediation
- positive affirmations
- floral therapy, and
- exercise and sleep
Let’s start with positivity. Where does it come from?
This may sound a silly question as we know it comes from within. And it also comes from the way we think and the way we behave. As William James, the brother of the novelist Henry James, asserted in The Principles of Psychology back in 1890, the relationship between emotion and behaviour is a two-way street.
We all know if we’re sad we tend to act sad and by contrast, if we’re feeling happy our behaviour tends to portray this emotion. But, James ventured that if we turned this around and behaved as if we were happy, we would feel happy.1 The same goes for positivity. James believes the theory of positive thought can be applied to behaviour and, therefore, we should be able to change our feelings of negativity by acting in a positive way. Positive affirmations are a great starting point. And, by saying them out loud, we are more likely to portray positive behaviour in turn leading to a positive mind set. Try thinking about everything you’re grateful for. Maybe write a list of positive things that have happened at the end of every day. Remember, it’s what you want, not what you don’t want.
Positivity also comes from those around us. Try surrounding yourself with positive people – you’ll soon see it rubs off. The opposite is also true as emotions are highly contagious.
But, sometimes feeling positive about a situation can be difficult. It may seem far too large to deal with and that’s because it probably is! Or at least the problem, as you perceive it, is. So break it down. Where can you find positivity?
Here you may find focusing on the present will help. Mindfulness, meditation, eco-therapy and floral therapy are great ways to start.
Exercise for positivity
When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins – the body’s happy chemicals – and it’s much easier to feel positive when we feel happy. Start your day with a brisk walk if possible. If the weather’s good, why not use the opportunity to fit in an eco-therapy session. ‘Be present’ and take notice of your surroundings, the sights, smells, sounds. Or add in a short floral therapy session if you’re lucky enough to live in the country or have access to a park. Gardening is a great way to exercise whilst being at one with nature, use yoga to focus your thoughts or a work-out will help you put things in perspective. The mental health benefits of exercise can’t be overestimated.
Sleep and mental health
“Have a good night’s sleep and everything will feel better in the morning!” We’ve all heard that many times, but it’s actually true. Sleep is important. While you’re sleeping your body is not only taking the time to grow, heal and repair itself, your brain is preparing for the next day by processing, consolidating and filing information.
It might be harder to get a good night’s sleep when we are anxious or worrying about things. It’s easy for this to become a vicious circle. Feelings of worry or stress may lead to lack of sleep, which can lead to tiredness, which can impact our ability to cope with daily life, which can lead to low self-esteem, which can lead to feelings of worry or stress and so it goes on.2 The Royal College of Psychiatrists3 has some excellent tips on how to sleep better including exercise, relaxation and writing down what’s troubling you before you go to bed – that way your mind knows it can switch off and deal with it in the morning (when it will be easier to do as you’ve had a good night’s sleep!).
Waking up to a new day
It may sound obvious, but waking up to an up-beat song is far more likely to help you start the day on a positive note than listening to the news, for example. And, according to music psychologist David M Greenberg,4 the song you choose to wake up to should have three elements:
- it should build, nudging you out of bed gently and gradually build your energy levels up;
- it should be positive, and
- it should have a strong beat (with a beat per minute of approximately 100 to 130).
Depending on your musical taste, there are a number of examples given starting with Viva La Vida by Coldplay, Bill Withers’ Lovely Day and Katrina & The Waves – Walking on Sunshine. You probably already have your own happy song – just play it first thing and you’ll notice the difference!
We hope you can now see how, by taking back control, you can build positivity into your life. And by doing this you are in a far stronger position to follow Bob Lemon’s advice and ‘focus on what you want, not what you don’t want’.