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You always see and hear people harking on about how great positivity and optimism is, which makes the whole affair appear almost hippy-esque. The truth is, people are quick to resent those who are happy because for many, that level of peace is frustratingly unobtainable therefore making that person unknowingly envious. It appears that negativity is the only form of mental illness that is accepted in society and almost celebrated in a way. Instead of being inspired and motivated, people react to news of optimism and happiness by being offended by it. This person is then criticised for being too happy - because obviously, there is a threshold of happiness which when breached, instantly turns you into an awful awful person...not. This cynicism is often celebrated and even encouraged, frequently forming the backbone of many interactions. Sure, it may be a little bit of fun and it can strengthen bonds between people but it`s not a trait or common ground you should be nurturing. It`s the sort of trait that encourages discrimination.
Now at this point you may be thinking that I too may be too happy, but snort not sweet child for I was once a cynic, in fact - I was known for being a chronic cynic...only I was in denial and called it realism as opposed to pessimism. I used to think that love was for the stupid, that everyone was heartless and that life was pointless. I was the type of person who wouldn`t say that the glass was half empty, nor half full. I`d say that there was no glass, no nothing (do mind the double-negative). I never dreamt of the day I`d actually be a positive thinker because...well...I automatically assumed it would never come (pessimism again). I was locked in circle of cynicism spiralling out of control the older I got or as Ron Burgundy put it, I was in...A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!
To this very second, I am still stunned at the fact I have become a positive thinker and for the first time in my life, I am actually happy. My life hasn`t drastically improved, if anything my situation has become a lot worse but my mind is a lot more...without sounding like a tree-hugger...`whole`. For the first time, I have dreams and aspirations. I long to explore the world and sample every given opportunity. I still have my ups and downs, as will everybody but I have become a lot more content with life and it`s not due to one thing but a combination of things.
Being told to practise positive thinking is all well and true but it`s another thing to apply it. I used to scoff at the idea and make the excuse that your thinking should come natural to you and you shouldn`t have to practise it as if you were in school. But this form of conditioning happens in all aspects of life, there`s nothing academic about it. However, I highly doubt you can change the way you think unless you truly want to change it for the better, your heart has to be in it. But I found a few things helped me in this transformation and I strongly believe it was the combination of these things that propelled the change, not one sole thing.
The best things in life are actually free, so things like music and friendships. Music is a powerful tool so make sure you`re surrounding yourself in uplifting tunes every now and then. My current favourites are We Come Running and Danny Boy, both by Youngblood Hawke. You should also be surrounding yourself in positive and encouraging people, I met some great people towards the end of 2012 that have literally changed my life.
Have a social media clear-out; un-follow and delete people that spread negativity (maybe the ones who are spiteful) and reduce how dependent you are on these websites. I remember receiving some new shoes back in September in the post and I spent 10 minutes taking photos, then 10 minutes editing these photos and then selecting which social networks to share my shoes with and at that point I caught myself and it suddenly hit me..."What the hell am I doing?!" I`d be doing this on a regular occasion, sometimes several times a day and I know a lot of people out there (especially girls) do the same. I took the plunge and deleted several of my accounts including Instagram and rarely visit others now apart from Twitter. People have become so obsessed with how their life appears on the outside that they`ve forgotten to just live, which was what I was doing. Alongside privacy issues, studies have shown that social networks such as Facebook, actually make you angrier and more lonely.
Use the internet to your advantage and stream feel good TV shows and films like Ugly Betty, Bridesmaids and Amelie. Although set in a seemingly superficial industry, Ugly Betty actually has a strong consistent message and is really inspiring unlike Gossip Girl which I`ve taken the liberty to stop watching. If you`re in the mood for something more light hearted, that`s fine - I love to watch Would I Lie To You and Michael McIntyre clips. Other helpful clips include Being Happy, Dealing With Judgemental People/Boosting Your Confidence and How To Be Happy.
It is important to train yourself to think more positively, don`t sweat it if you`re not but try to catch yourself thinking negatively and replace it with positive thoughts even if you don`t necessarily believe them. A fake smile actually releases endorphins much like a real smile, in turn making you happier and the same goes for positive thinking. If a supposed "chronic cynic" can do it, then I`m sure as hell you can.
Lastly, appreciate the little things in life. In my transition, I begun noticing little things like I loved whenever a train I was one, tilted and when a shopping bag fit my bin nicely. These things all seem so insignificant but if you appreciate the smaller things in life, you learn to appreciate the bigger things in life. Like with the recent horse meat scandal, yes there are potential health risks involved but I`m so thankful we`re even in a position to complain about meat in the first place! There are people out there that would kill for any meat; horse, dog, cat...anything, because they may actually starve to death otherwise.
If you do have a little bit of cash to spend, some ideas may include buying books and developing new hobbies. Some new hobbies I developed which helped me included street dance lessons (so I would become one step further to becoming Béyonce) and singing lessons. The street dance lessons only cost me £4 for 45 minutes and the singing lessons a dearer £10 for 30 minutes but you can find someone who can sing professionally but isn`t a qualified teacher to tutor you for a lot less which is what I`m doing now with French lessons. My favourite song to sing to currently is Just Give Me A Reason by P!nk feat. Nate Reuss sounding a little like Regina Spektor in the intro, P!nk`s harmony is fantastic to singalong to. I also further developed my existing passion for blogging, the cost would depend on your material and style but blogging in general, tends to be a costless activity.
It may be worth while to invest in some motivational reading materials. I love How To Be Lovely by Melissa Hellstern which is about an Audrey Hepburn way of living, The Bounce Back Book by self-help author Karen Salmansohn, The Rules of Life by Richard Templar and I`m going to attempt to re-read the infamous The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I read this previously, back when I was a raging ball of anger and negativity. I was literally so disgusted at how positive it was that I threw it to the back of storage. I know! What the hell was wrong with me?! Now that my heart is in the right place, I`m going to attempt to read it again and perhaps this time, it may turn out to be a treasured novel. If I had to advise you to read just one of these books, it would be The Rules of Life.
Now if you have a lot of money to spend, I would highly suggest going on holiday - preferably to a place culturally different to your country of residence. Now this doesn`t necessarily mean go to Antarctica or somewhere where they speak an entirely different language. I went to Melbourne and although the language was the same, the culture there is completely different to the UK. Everything is a lot more laid back, people are friendlier, people appreciate the smaller things more and my favourite thing? People actually have time for you! I learnt a lot about myself and life as a whole and I`m forever grateful for the opportunity.
If at any point you think you are suffering from depression, visit a doctor but only accept the decision to take medication if you truly believe it`s justifiable. Those who take medication often don`t realise that they become not addicted but dependent on medication and therefore have an extremely difficult time reducing dosage or weaning off them completely.
I hope you have found this link-laden post inspirational one way or another and remember, "You`ll never leave where you are until you decide where you`d rather be."