How to Create a Positive Outlook in Your Life
Is your glass half full or half empty? How you perceive an event can tell you a lot about how the event will affect your happiness. If you are a glass full kind of person, you can probably find good things about most situations. If you are a glass empty kind of person, changing your outlook to a more positive outlook can be your first step on the way to happiness.
Let’s Start With Language
Here are two sentences I wrote to describe my home.
Option A: I live in a tiny double-wide in the middle of nowhere. It is a boring beige color and there is no landscaping to speak of.
Option B: I live in cozy little three-bed room house in the serenity of the country. The house came with no landscaping so I get to make it perfect without having to do a lot of tear down.
Which one do you want to live in?
The language you use is deeply connected to the emotions you will feel. According to a study by the University of Chicago, we know 50% more negative words than positive words. Is that because more bad things happen to us? Actually, it isn’t. The reason we know more negative words than positive is all in how our brains process them.
When we use a positive word, our brains say “Oh yea we are cool” and all of those fun hormones and that cause negative emotions stay put.
When we use a negative word, our brains say “Uh oh, danger Will Robinson, slow down, we must fix this problem” Then your body releases those fun hormones that tell you to be on guard. These create things like anger, worry, and anxiety.
In other words, our brains focus more power on the negative than the positive. So guess what happens to your happiness level if you use negative terms to describe something? You guessed it, you suddenly feel worried, upset, sad or any other number of negative emotions.
How to Fix Your Language Problem
Unless something is really that bad try to use neutral or positive language to describe it. If nothing else, take out the emotional words and just stick to the facts.
Here are a few examples:
You are stuck in traffic on your way home to meet your husband for dinner.
Option A: Hey honey, sorry I am stuck in this God awful traffic. I hate this stupid traffic I don’t know why I put up with this just to go to my miserable job every day.
Option B: Hey honey, I am stuck in traffic, I might be a little late.
Which one will leave you in a better mood when you get home for your date with your husband?
How about this one:
Your boss asks you to complete a big report, of course he needs it done in 2 hours.
Option A: Mutter, stupid boss, I will never get this report done on time, it’s not like it is going to matter anyway, the big wigs hate him.
Option B: You just sit down and do it.
Which one will leave you happier at the end of the day?
Remember changing your language does not mean you have to spew rainbows and unicorns out of your mouth all day. It is kind of like the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
The Circle of Doom
Did you notice in the above example your brain works a lot harder when you feel bad? Anger, sadness, anxiety all use a lot of energy on your part. One of the biggest complainest in today’s fast paced world is that we are TIRED!
Now here is where the weird part comes in, telling someone you are tired, makes you more tired! So you complain more about being tired, and that in turn makes you more tired! Ahhh it is a never ending circle of doom!
I am not talking about traumatic events here, I am talking about our every day little nit picky things that we all have a tendency to get a little whiny about. For the record, your nail tech canceling your appointment is not a traumatic event.
Focusing on these annoying little things takes a lot of effort. Here is a quick list of things to stop doing to break the Circle of Doom
- Stop posting small problems on FaceBook.
- Make up a fake swear word or phrase with your best friend, giggle about it, it will make complaining much more fun and won’t zap your energy. Around here we use “Holy crow on a ladder Batman!”
- Find 3 things that make you smile each day and write them in a happiness journal
- Ask yourself if someone else told you about this particular problem would it seem that bad?
*There is plenty of research to support talking to a trusted friend or adviser about a traumatic event. If you have gone through a traumatic event, please reach out.
Fill Your Glass
Changing your perception is a powerful way to find your path to happiness. Look for opportunities to pour a little more into your glass each day. Stop the negative adjectives for everyday events, look for a few things each day that will make you happy and make up a fun swear word to trick your brain into thinking all is well with the world.
You don’t need butterflies and rainbows, just a little less doom and gloom. In the words of Ron White “If life hands you lemons, find someone with vodka and have a party”