“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~Buddha
I remember how I used to think; it was always, “People suck” and “I hate (fill in the blank).” I was constantly focusing on the bad side of humanity, so that was all I could see. It cast a shadow, which took the joy out of life. It should have been obvious that I was creating my own misery, but I wasn’t able to see how my own thoughts affected my mood.
I had to change my entire outlook by training my mind to see things in a new light. It would have been easy to stay on the same path. After all, I had chronic fatigue, no money, and nothing to look forward to because I didn’t have a compelling vision of the future. I felt the present situation was permanent. Eventually, I’d had enough and started thinking about what I could do to change my situation.
Change was slow, but a new path that wasn’t clear to me before started to appear as I worked on my mindset. As things progressed, my goals and dreams became bigger and more ambitious. I started imagining being fit, healthy, running my own business, and traveling the world. These are some of the things I did to change my mindset and my life.
1. Seek positive friends.
A negative social circle will act as an echo chamber for bad ideas. A positive social circle will also act as an echo chamber, but one that supports your dreams, so choose your friends carefully. Find people who reflect the values you want to adopt. Join groups online and go to networking or social events focused on personal growth. As your own mind starts to change, it’ll become easier to connect with more positive people.
I’m not suggesting that you ditch friends who are going through a hard time and need your support, but rather that you evaluate whether some of your relationships are persistently draining and unhealthy. I left my old social circle because it was an echo chamber for negativity. Instead of focusing on a great future, everyone was talking about the things they didn’t like about life.
It was hard to make new friends at first. The problem was that I couldn’t offer any value to people with much more positive mindsets—the kind of people who I wanted to emulate. That changed, but it took time. Once you find your “tribe,” progress will come much more quickly because of your new influences.
2. Challenge your thoughts.
When old thinking comes up, as it will, it’s not enough to try and ignore it. We need to challenge our beliefs. Is everything too expensive, or is it just that I can’t afford it? Do “people suck,” or am I just looking for things to criticize? Weigh your thoughts against the evidence. If they crumble under scrutiny, then explore why you believe them in the first place. By challenging your thoughts, your mindset will begin to evolve.
3. Consume positive media.
Consuming positive media daily will alter your perspective through osmosis. “Positive media” is anything that emphasizes the good in life, or how to improve our living standards and the living standards of others. We all know that the best way to learn a new language is through immersion. If you hear this new language every day, it starts to stick and become easier to remember. Soon, you’ll not only understand that language but you’ll speak it too.
New mindsets are exactly the same; if you immerse yourself in personal growth content every day, it will change the language of your mind. That language is your self-dialogue, the way you speak to yourself at every moment, and it’s habitual.
Learn a positive self-dialogue and you’ll see the world in a different way.
Volunteering to help other people can make a huge impact on how you feel about yourself and your view of the world. By focusing on how you can help someone else, you’ll draw your attention away from your own woes. It becomes easy to develop a positive mindset when you’re looking for new ways to make someone else’s situation better.
You can’t focus on the bad while focusing on the good.
5. Abstain from all “bad news.”
Wars, murders, and politics all add baggage to our thoughts. It makes sense that most of the mainstream media focuses on bad news, though, because tragedy sells. It doesn’t make sense for us to sit around stewing over this bad news. It’s certainly not going to allow for an optimal mindset, one that’s focused on the best that life has to offer.
By tuning into the news about a plane crash thousands of miles away, we’re putting our mental energy into something that won’t help. We can’t change the bad things happening at any given moment, but if we put our attention into things we can change, our lives will improve.
6. Write out your action plan.
This is about looking at the possibilities and then doing something to make it happen. Forward thinking will move your focus away from where you don’t want to be to where could be. But it’s not enough to simply write it out, because we only grow when we take action. It’s just a thought until we do something to make it happen.
Don’t know what the right steps are? Don’t worry, just identify the first thing you could do to start on the path, then do it. Even if it’s a mistake, you’ll still make progress, and that will keep you focused on creating positive change. Never allow paralysis by analysis. You have the vision; go with it.
7. Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy body will support a healthy mind. During the most difficult time of my personal struggles, bad health was a major obstacle. Chronic fatigue could wipe me out for whole days. Nonetheless, getting into action, changing my diet, and working out set the foundation for all other changes to take place. Slowly, my energy levels started to rise till the point that my health no longer was an issue.
Look at how you sleep, what you eat, and your activity levels to identify anything that could be sapping your energy. Sometimes laziness is just fatigue.
8. Send thank you notes.
The simple gesture of sending a thank you note can be empowering. Not only does it feel good, a thank you note creates goodwill in other people. Thank you notes will also strengthen your relationships and connections, because people like to feel appreciated.
It doesn’t really matter what they did; any small gesture you appreciated, from good service to a favor, is a candidate. Send a quick email or a card in the mail to let them know you appreciated it.
9. Create a morning mindset routine.
A great way to start the day is by making a mental list of each thing we’re looking forward to; it creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement that creates momentum for the entire day. Every morning I play personal growth videos or audio books. By focusing on the positive messages coming from this content at the beginning of the day, it’s much easier to be happy and focused. My work gets done more quickly, and it doesn’t seem so hard either.
10. Write a wins checklist.
So you started on good note; now finish on a great note by making a mental list of the day’s wins. It doesn’t have to be monumental; the point of the exercise is just to keep your focus on the best your day’s experience. Keeping track of losses can help you improve, but dwelling on them will kill your motivation and momentum. Finish strong and it will be much easier to wake up feeling happy.
Improving your life starts with improving your mindset. Like me, you may find that these steps are a great start.