Are you feeling grouchy, stressed and irritable? Philosophers, spiritual leaders and even physicians tout the benefits of living an optimistic life. Even individuals stuck in a negative mindset believe an alternative way of viewing the world would be beneficial. However, putting this upbeat thinking into practice is another story. Even if your glass is half empty, there is hope.
Here are 6 simple steps to kick out the grouch in your life – and reduce stress.
1. Recognize you have a negativity problem.
2. Count and replace negative thoughts, speech and actions with kinder alternatives.
3. Start each day with a positive affirmation.
4. Smile. Even if you don’t feel like it.
5. Be choosy about who you spend time with.
Recognize Your Internal Grouch
Awareness is a key component to eliminating negativity and reducing stress. While it may not be easy to accept blame for your pessimistic tendencies, when you recognize the problem you will have taken an important first step to addressing and correcting the issue. Blaming others may seem an easier way to cope, but it will never change the situation. Remember, what you resist, persists.
Count and Replace
Grouchiness is not an isolated problem. The average person has 40,000 to 65,000 thoughts a day and 95% of those thoughts are negative. If you do not believe you have a tendency to walk on the grumpy side, try counting your negative thoughts for 15 minutes. The next step is to replace negative thoughts with empowering messages. Instead of saying, “I need to lose weight” try saying something more empowering such as “I love how empowered I feel after I exercise.”
The Chinese philosopher Confucius noted the link between negative thoughts to an unhappy life in his famous quote:
Watch your thoughts they become your words
Watch your words they become your actions
Watch your actions they become your habits
Watch your habits they become your character
Watch your character it becomes your destiny
One simple way to reduce stress is to start each day with a positive affirmation. It can be something simple such as “It is great to be alive.” After all, think of the alternative. However, there are many great quotes, sayings and positive words that can elevate your mood. Pick a positive message and recite it every day. Over time your brain perceives your affirmation as the truth. A good generic affirmation is, “I am happy, healthy and prosperous.”
This simple action can reap huge rewards. When you smile people will react more positively to you and feel more inclined to smile back. Even if you have to fake your grin, the act creates an internal attitude shift. In time your smile will feel less forced and reflect your more optimistic view on life. For those days when you feel out of sorts, stand in front of the mirror and smile for one full minute. Don’t be surprised if the irony of the smiling and grumpiness makes you laugh.
Beware of External Grouches
Your happiness is an inside job, but pessimistic individuals can have a negative impact on your outlook. When you have a choice of who to associate with, seek out the folks who make you feel better and avoid the ones that do not. This is especially true with new and existing friends. Use your intuition. If you feel lighter around someone, this is a good sign. A sinking feeling in the stomach is generally a sign of trouble.
A quote from Malachy McCourt states, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Nearly all major religions, as well as hundreds of philosophers and medical specialists attest to the benefits of forgiveness as an important factor in overall happiness and stress reduction. It is not simply a compassionate act, forgiveness is a healthier alternative as well.
Happiness does not mean an absence of problems. No one goes through life without facing obstacles. It is not so much the problems, but the attitude you take while facing these difficulties that shapes how you view the world. However, by taking a few steps each day to reduce stress by erasing negativity you will be on your way to kicking the grouch out of your life and making room for a happier and calmer future.
Sally Marks is the co-author of the self-help book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. You can check out her blog at www.erasenegativity.blogspot.com.