Just Keep Swimming

8 Things to Make Your Life More Positive and Hopeful

One major thing that I learned as a parent is how to view advice. Before I became a parent of a newborn, I sort of saw advice as these rules that you follow in order to survive and not suffocate your baby. I now realize that advice is actually one person sharing what has worked for them and what they have found successful. I do believe a lot of advice has value, but I also now know that it doesn't always work for everyone. Or you can also cherry pick or mold advice to better suit your life. Because another thing I've learned as a parent is each life is vastly different and modifications are necessity for any kind of success.

I put this caveat here because I know that the advice that I'm about to give is a collection of things that work for me. I hope they can work for you. If they don't then maybe you can modify and adapt them in ways that it does work. But the other thing about advice is that you can't complain that it isn't good advice unless you try to follow it first.

You may have heard that we are currently experiencing a pandemic. Here in Ontario, almost everything has opened up again, but there are still places in the world that are locked down and everywhere else there is still fear that cases could skyrocket again leading to a return to shutdowns. The past two years was a time where people couldn't see loved ones in person, experienced massive job losses or decrease in income and many people were feeling trapped and helpless. Covid may finally be getting under control and there is a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, but it came out a huge cost to mental and emotional health

Anyone who has been reading me for years knows that I've suffered from a cocktail of depression and anxiety. Over the last two years, I've actively been trying to find strategies to lift myself out of that funk and have a better control of my mental health. Luckily, I already started practicing positive thinking techniques before Covid-19 hit, and while it still has been incredibly hard, I think it helped me avoid going into a complete emotional tailspin.

I thought, I'd share some tips and advice on how to remain positive, happy and hopeful during these challenging times. I admit that I haven't been the best at always sticking with some of my own advice, but I know when I follow it that I feel amazing and I'm ready to conquer the world. Here are 8 things to help you have a hopeful, happy and abundant life.

1. Be grateful. It is extremely easy to dwell on what we have lost or what we don't have. But you know that house you're feeling trapped in? Isn't it great to have a place to live? You probably have at least one person that you love. You have food to eat every day and air to breath every second. We have the marvelous outdoors with magnificent trees, beautiful flowers and exciting wildlife. I encourage anyone who is feeling down to get up early in the morning, so you can go for a walk where you hear the birds chirping, a gentle breeze touching your face and that wonderful beginning of the day dew smell.
Outdoors isn't your thing? Well, isn't it great that you have the internet that allowed you to read this blog post? I encourage anyone to take 10 minutes and list 50 things you're grateful to have in your life, and they can be small and huge. You'll be amazed when you're done the list and can come up with 50 more. Being in a place where you're so thankful for this wonderful and amazing world we live in will do wonders for you to really start appreciating life so much more.

2. Be grateful for the success of others. It often feels like when we are struggling that we are surrounded by people who are so much more successful than we are. They are making more money or landed a big job that we'd love or have found the love of their life or have a brand-new car or have five times the number of followers on Twitter or Facebook. Throughout life, there are going to be people who succeed at the things that we feel we've failed at. Rather than allowing that festering jealousy to spoil the day, we need to celebrate the success of others. We need to be thankful that they've become rich or landed the career of their dreams. Trust me, it will feel much better to genuinely be happy for someone else's success rather than hold hostile feelings. Plus, their success means that it can be achieved, and so you could be next.

3. 'Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.' - Steve Jobs. Okay, this is a quote, but I still think there is some good advice in there. A similar quote that I love is from Will Smith, 'Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.' In both cases, two highly successful and wealthy human beings who reached the height of their chosen professions are saying that you can reach your dreams if you really believe and push yourself. 

We are told too often that our dreams are unrealistic or that we aren't good enough, but we are. We just need to choose to believe that and focus on that dream and realize we have what it takes to achieve it. Don't give up. Especially now when the world is swirling about with a nasty virus and negativity seems to be spilling out everywhere. This is your moment to achieve greatness in whatever form you view as greatness: be it being successful at your art, starting a major charity or creating the next great life-changing invention. 

The world needs your genius right now.

4. Meditate. If you're religious, you can swap in prayer instead. The point is to find a quiet place, get yourself relaxed and take a huge deep breathe then exhale. Do some more deep breathes while either focusing on positive energy or the universe or God or whatever it is that gives you a sense of peace. Spend a good ten or twenty minutes or even a half hour if you can afford the time without stressing out, and then focus on all the good in the world and what great things you can bring to make the world an even better place. It is important to focus on positive things or at least, how you plan to make things a better place. If you keep up the deep breathing and really trying to connect yourself to God, you are going to feel uplifted and full of positive energy after the experience.

5. Be Generous. One of the quickest ways to achieve a natural high is knowing you did something terrific for somebody else. It can be donating your time or money to a charity. It could be buying a meal for a friend or someone struggling to make ends meet. It could be getting groceries for someone who can't get out of the house right now. It could be buying a 'just because' gift for someone. Generosity doesn't need to be giving someone money, because you can also give your time and talents. Devoting yourself to someone else really helps you to get some perspective and realize there is more to this world that just us. It will also bring positive energy into the world and it will come back to you in an emotionally rewarding way.

6. 'There are no problem, only solutions.' - John Lennon, Yep, I resorted to a quote again, but it is also solid advice. If we see every problem in our life as something that can be solved or every trial as something that we can learn from then it is a huge shift in perspective in how we view every issue and obstacle in our life. Hard times will come into our life, but we can decide how we view it and how we will handle it. This also reminds me of a quote that I've thrown Everett's way a few times, 'You can't always decide what happens to us, but we can always decide how we are going to respond.

7. Go outside. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Work in your garden. Lay on a hammock. You just need to breathe in that fresh air and enjoy the cool of the breeze or the warmth of the sun. If you have been trapped inside for weeks, then some time outside is going to do some wonders.

8. Throw yourself into something you love. You spend some time with something you really love or with someone you really love then that is time you're raising your positive energy rather than stewing on all the things you perceive as wrong. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as you love it and it makes you feel positive and good. My advice would be it is hobby or project because then it is something that allows you to create and you can get a sense of achievement and accomplishment. It will allow you to have something that you feel you can control and master while also recharging your body and mind.

No matter what you decide to do, know that there are people who love you, you can do so much more than you believe, and we indeed live in a wonderful world.