Let’s face it- many things in life are out of our control. Frequently this can leave us reeling and dealing with many negative emotions that can impact our attitudes. Why does that matter? It matters because our attitudes affect more areas of our lives than we realize. Our outlooks, behaviors, responses, and decisions are among several locations impacted by our attitudes.
A positive attitude can even impact our mental and physical health and improve our productivity. A study by Stanford found that a positive attitude makes our brains function better (Stillman, 2018). A separate study conducted by Johns Hopkins expert Lisa Yanek, M.P.H., and her colleagues found that patients who thought positively were 13% less likely than their negative thinking counterparts to experience a heart attack or other coronary event (John Hopkins Medicine, 2019). These findings suggest that our thoughts can potentially impact outcomes for the better or the worse. Thus, it is up to us to decide how our ideas will influence us and, subsequently, our lives. By implementing a few simple practices, we can learn how to shift our attitudes for the better, even during challenging circumstances.
Perception plays a huge role when it comes to the attitudes we hold. The way we view a situation causes us to develop negative thoughts and attitudes or positive thoughts and attitudes. It is easy in a favorable condition to develop positive attitudes because the circumstances would facilitate positive feelings. However, it is much harder to create a positive attitude in unfavorable circumstances.
Reframing is the ability to take a negative situation and adjust our view of it to see the positive and thus think more positively about the situation. Reframing is about consciously deciding to find the good amongst the bad and choosing to highlight it. In doing so, we develop an ability to rise above our circumstances and thrive amidst them.
A saying states, “A happy heart is a grateful heart,” and that honestly is so very true. There is something about gratitude that takes our eyes off the negativity of our circumstances. It refocuses our energy on the good that exists around us. Each day we should strive to find at least three things we are grateful for. The joy and happiness we feel associated with those things we are thankful for will offset the negativity related to the challenges and obstacles we face. Thus, we can adjust our attitudes for the better by simply changing what we choose to focus on.
Affirmations are one way to change our internal dialogue for the better. Often we are unaware of just how harmful our thinking is on a day-to-day basis. Affirmations interrupt those negative thought patterns by intentionally introducing positive phrases and sayings. Through repetitive reciting of those phrases, typically out loud, we can reshape how we think and thus positively influence our attitudes for the better.
Changing our attitudes may very well be the key to unlocking real happiness. While we do not always have control over what happens in our lives, we do control how we choose to view what happens in our lives. It means our outlook, and often the outcome is within our power. We can choose to be miserable, or we can choose to find the good. We can choose to let life happen to us, or we can take life by the reigns and make the best out of bad situations. By implementing techniques like reframing, practicing gratitude, and affirmations, we can reshape our minds and thoughts to have a positive attitude no matter what. And that puts us in a position to experience happiness and peace amid chaos.
Until next time, stay safe, and keep the faith.