Life is a struggle sometimes. It’s easy to overlook that when you live in a society that, relative to human history, has a lot of good things going for it. It’s easy to feel like we are supposed to be happy and that we don’t have a right to be down. Really, we’re not being fair to ourselves when we think that way.
Just because it’s fair to be down doesn’t mean you want to feel that way all of the time. It’s nice to be able to brighten your own day and find the inner peace to truly appreciate the good things in life. We all want to feel grateful for everything we have, but it’s just hard sometimes.
If any of this is resonating, we want to help. These are a few basic ideas that can help you push back against negativity and improve your own sense of positivity.
Get some exercise
It’s practically a cliché at this point, but it has to be said. Exercise is not a cure for depression, mental struggles, or any type of down feeling. But, it certainly doesn’t make anything worse.
As you undoubtedly know, exercise releases endorphins, and endorphins are amazing for mental health and mentality in general. If you build regular exercise into your routine, you will inevitably feel stronger, fitter and healthier. You can’t prevent that from adding some amount of positivity to your life. It’s pure biology, and you might as well take advantage of it.
Do something selfless
You don’t need to push this to martyrdom. A single act of selflessness can change your whole day, so make it a regular part of your life.
Every time you stop and do something for someone else, it boosts the spirit. Knowing that you could genuinely help another human being makes you feel more valuable. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being there for a friend, but it can help a lot to try some volunteering. Even if it feels a little uncomfortable to get started, volunteering is great for the soul.
It also gets you out of your rut and comfort zone, and that can have benefits too.
Try active gratitude
Being grateful for what you have makes it hard to feel completely unhappy. It sounds weird, but you can schedule time into your routine to practice active gratitude. Take a moment out of every day and just think about the things you appreciate in your life.
It might not be easy at first, especially if you’re going through a hard time, but there’s always something. You can be grateful for the shoes on your feet or the food in your belly. You can appreciate the cute dog you got to see when you volunteered at the shelter, the breath in your lungs or your ability to read. When you take the time, you’ll find that the list really is endless.
The lesson to learn is that small pieces of gratitude work wonders. You don’t have to be grateful for just the grand moments of your life. You can appreciate the small things. In fact, you should strive to appreciate the small things because they can somehow carry the most weight when you work on gratitude.
For a lot of us, acceptance can prove challenging. People have accomplished a lot, and it leads us to feel like we have a lot of control over the world. That’s simply not the case. For all that humanity has accomplished, a person is mostly powerless. That sounds depressing or scary until you achieve acceptance. When you take a hard look at what you can and cannot control, you stare right into the face of the hard things in your life that really are beyond your control. Then, you relax. That’s acceptance.
It’s a pretty intense take on acceptance, but you can do things that help you move in that direction. Take a hypothetical journey with us as a mental exercise.
You’re on a roller coaster, literally, not metaphorically. You’re strapped into your seat and the carts are attached to the chain.You can’t see the ground anymore, and things in your peripheral vision keep disappearing as you rise higher and higher.
You know that the first drop is going to hit hard. You’ll get that feeling in the pit of your stomach, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You can fight it by tensing up and squinting your eyes as you brace for the ordeal.
Or, you can embrace it. You can force yourself to relax and take a deep breath. As you reach the apex and the carts start to tip forward, think about everything fun, exciting and positive about this ride. Feel the firm security of the seat below you — the comforting embrace of the harness keeping you safe. Even as you fall, you know that the ride will catch you at the bottom. You’re free to savor the moment and appreciate the thrill.
If you can embrace the roller coaster, the entire experience changes. The dread falls away, and it all comes from acceptance.
The metaphorical roller coaster of life isn’t always as secure and comforting as a theme park ride, but acceptance can still turn dread and fear into wonder and experience.