Okay, life certainly isn’t a big basket of puppies, cakes, and Starbucks iced coffee; things go wrong when we least expect them to. We forget our presentation notes on our desk because we’re running late; we miss the train and won’t be able to get the next one for another three hours; our week has been so busy that we’ve left certain obligations for the last possible minute—alright, I think you get the idea. And it’s totally okay to get pissed off and throw a mini tantrum when these things happen, but it’s also important to learn how to get over how much your situation sucks and charge forward.
I know one bad thing can really ruin a person’s attitude for the rest of the day, but don’t let that get to you and certainly don’t let it stop you from making your day better. At the risk of sounding like one of those people on before and after commercials, I used to be upset for hours when something bad happened or didn’t work out well at all for me. It was so bad that my negativity would pretty much sabotage any chance I had at improving the rest of my day or having a better mood at the very least. Now, I’d pretty much just laugh it off or poke fun at my situation and find a way to make it work for me.
No, it’s not sorcery (I haven’t quite mastered that yet) but it is totally worth the effort. Especially since positive thinking can impact various areas of your life. Read on if you want to find out what tips and tactics I used to improve my attitude!
1. Embrace the mess.
I went to a conference this summer where I got to hear the ever-famous Ann Shoket speak as a guest and it was honestly eye-opening. She taught us that crazy shit happens, even to her and she’s the former Editor in Chief of Seventeen magazine! But she taught us that while you can’t always avoid or control messes, you can embrace them.
Acknowledge that things can and probably will go wrong, and when they do, instead of freaking out and stressing yourself out even more, think of a way to improvise the situation.
2. Surround yourself with positive people.
If you’re constantly around people who only look at things negatively, you’re going to start having the same outlook. While I don’t necessarily consider myself extremely optimistic all the time, I do try to look at things realistically—seeing both the positives and the negatives to really make sense of a situation. It’s nice to have people who think positively because they can often give you a perspective you might not have thought of since you were too busy feeling angry or upset. Not only that, but also try to surround yourself with people who are doing positive things. This can help you motivate each other, and you’ll have so much fun cheering each other on. And, if you’ve got the time, check out my post on How To Make New Friends In College.
3. Spend time in your favorite place.
I think almost everyone has that one place that they can just go to when they want to escape, or where they feel that they operate their best at. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you probably already know where that place is for me (*cough* Starbucks *cough*). I just feel like I can accomplish anything with dim lights, chill music, and an iced coffee next to me. It’s where I feel the most creative and the most focused. If you aren’t sure where your favorite place is yet, think of this mission as an excuse to wander campus for a bit and go looking for it. And if you’re not in college, wander around your neighborhood for a bit. Discover a new cafe or a new spot in the library or park that you can call your place.
4. Do something that makes you happy at least once a week.
Are you at your happiest when you’re binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix? Maybe popping a sheet of chocolate chip cookies into the oven is your version of relaxing. Whatever your “happy” activity is, try to make some time every week to do it. Trust me, I know that’s way easier said than done, but try moving a few things around in your schedule in order to make time for it. I love baking and used to have a blog full of photos of cakes and cookies that I made, but since I started college, I’ve been slowly baking less and less—I haven’t baked a damn thing all semester (except for cookies for an event I hosted but that’s different). To make more time for baking, I’m going to try simply waking up earlier on the weekends (even though sleeping in sounds really nice).
5. Don’t dwell.
The phrase, “it is what it is” has more or less become a motto of mine in recent months. There’s no turning back; it’s out of my hands; there’s nothing else I can do; what’s done is done. I don’t like dwelling on what could have been or what should have happened if something negative that’s out of my control occurs. I feel like it takes so much energy to cry over spilled milk, and you waste so much time doing that when you could be planning how to be even more awesome next time. We can’t go back in time and change things, unfortunately, so we need to learn to move forward and make the next day or next experience better.
6. Look for the positives in any situation.
This is where having a positive friend group can help you out if you don’t think you’re the best at coming up with the bright sides. The pros don’t have to be anything huge or fantastic, and in fact, they’re usually the little things that remind us that it could be worse. When my friend and I attended College Fashion Week this year, we missed our train back to campus by one minute and had to wait three hours at Penn Station for the next one. My list of positives?
- At least there are outlets in the waiting area for charging our phones.
- At least we have some time to go through the free stuff we got.
- At least I have comfortable shoes to change into.
- At least we don’t have class in the morning.
While I was really annoyed about missing the train at first, thinking about all those positives and more actually brightened my mood and I didn’t care as much. I was just glad that my friend and I had a fun time and that we were warm and content and could wait it out with each other. It was quite an unforgettable experience, to be honest, but we handled it pretty well and we’re able to laugh about it.
I hope you enjoyed reading my tips for keeping a positive attitude! And, if it’s something you think you need to work on, I really hope you’ll try some of these out.
What are your tips for maintaining a positive attitude?