All of your emotions and your mindset derive from the very thoughts that pass through your mind. Now, this may be obvious -- of course your MINDset is in your MIND, yet we still allow ourselves to dwell on negative thoughts and feel bad for ourselves for things that normally shouldn’t bother us. What we often forget is that to feel sad or angry takes just as much effort as it takes to feel happy and gracious. While they’re equally achievable, we still allow ourselves to cling to and become dependent on the negative belief systems that we develop in our mind. We convince ourselves that we have bad luck, that we’re unworthy, or that we’re incapable of finding happiness without that one thing. I, for one, fell victim to the spiraling negativity that my mind created and as a result, allowed it to darken my outlook on life. Sourced from many books, videos, and websites that I’ve used over the years, these following changes have brought me to my current life of positivity, happiness, love, and appreciation.

1. Stop Assuming Negative Thoughts

Some of us view our lives through poop tinted glasses. In other words, we allow negativity to blanket every single aspect of our life, thus plaguing us with “bad days” or bad experiences; we can, however, just as easily choose to look at our lives with “rose tinted spectacles,” or a mindset that allows us to think positively about the things in our life.

“We are not experiencing reality, but reality filtered through our beliefs systems and thinking styles” (Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive, Rob Kelly)

You may be thinking that I am making it seem easier than it actually is, but in fact, it is not easy at all. The way that we presently think is habitual; if you tend to think negatively, it is because you have developed a negative thinking habit. Therefore, we should trade our negative thinking habit for a positive thinking habit!

The positive thoughts may not come naturally at first, so you will have to hold yourself accountable for any negative thoughts that may cross your mind. For example, if you think, “Everything is going badly today. Today sucks.” You should immediately replace the thought with, “No, that is me choosing to look at my reality through a negative lens. I am going to choose positivity and not only stop focusing on the negatives of today, but also focus on how positive tomorrow can be.” After a few weeks of you manually inserting positive thoughts (even when you really want to be negative), you will find that the positive thoughts will begin to overrun your negative thoughts naturally.

2. Ride the Wave

We have to tell ourselves that life moves in waves, so therefore everything is temporary. If we allow it to, pain can stick to us for days, weeks, even years… if we allow it to. If we tell ourselves that while the battle may be tough, it will eventually end, then we will give ourselves a chance to grow from the battles that we face.

Think of every challenge or battle as a wave. When we’re in the midst of a battle, we can convince ourselves that we’ll never feel better. However, that thought process is a result of thinking with tunnel vision. Just as waves pass, our battles pass too.

I always remind myself to “just ride the wave”. We must remain calm and allow ourselves to ride our problems out -- because it will inevitably pass. Just as surfers ride over waves, allow yourself to conquer the wave and as it moves from your present to your past. While the wave may be too large for you to surf today, if you keep riding the smaller waves, you will eventually prepare yourself to ride the larger waves.

3. Think in Affirmations

The Law of Attraction/ Law of Manifestation states that your thoughts manifest your reality. If you continuously think, “I am going to achieve my goals”, while simultaneously putting in the work to achieve your goals, you will achieve your goals. The universe reimburses the energy you exude-- if you radiate positivity, then the universe will send positivity your way.

Ever notice that bad days seem to happen in chains of events? Not only will your car break down, but you’ll also spill your coffee, fail a test, and get into a fight with a friend. These negative events only continue because we send negative thoughts of, “this sucks” or “this is the worst day ever!” into the universe. Obviously, if we send such negative thoughts out, then the universe will manifest them. We need to replace our negative thoughts with affirmations; instead of thinking, “I will never be happy because I cannot find love,” we should think, “I will find love when the time is right. I am worthy of love”.

A good thing to do is to write down… like ACTUALLY write down… affirmations at night. Such as, “I WILL get that job”, “I WILL ace this test”, and “I WILL think positively”. Along with sending it off into the universe, repeating it to yourself will also remind you of your goals.

This mindset, however, will not work unless you…

4. Trade Expectations for Gratitude

All anxiety, stress, depression, and sadness stems from expectations. When you feel lonely, disappointed, or even hungry, it is because you are comparing your life to how you wish it was. All negative feelings derive from the space we create between our ideals and the reality. We are raised to look to the future and to expect ourselves to be happy and successful, but when even a small event that challenges our ideal life occurs, we are completely thrown off and overwhelmed. In a traffic jam on one’s way to a meeting at work, one may cry out of frustration because this obstacle may steer him away from his ideal life in which he gets to work on time, never upsets his boss, and encounters no problems in his life. However, another person in that traffic jam may accept the traffic as her reality, and thus take the moment to be grateful that she was not the car in the accident that caused the jam, and acknowledge that her reality is only as bad as she perceives it. Negative events can only occur if we make ourselves capable of perceiving negative events.

We do not realize how much our lives revolve around expectations unless we allow ourselves to unravel each of our thoughts and feelings and ask, “Why do I feel this way? What am I expecting?” If we do not, we never face reality head on, thus living in a game where we unconsciously create an unrealistic concept of our lives and are saddened by even the slightest space between the ideal and the reality.

By trading expectations for gratitude, we ditch the grief over our reality and, instead, show appreciation for our current situations. Not expecting anything is an extremely difficult concept to manifest, especially in the world that we live in. We constantly chase things that we believe might make us happy, like the perfect college, a new car, or social acceptance. We find ourselves stuck living in the past and the future, never taking the time to live in the present. By forgoing expectations, you are not losing control over your future. Instead, you are taking control of your present and preventing your past and fear of the future from darkening your present. Good or bad, all events are our reality and help us along the paths of our lives. If you darken the lens through which you view your life, you darken your reality. However, if you brighten the lens, your reality will always be bright, for failure is only a construct.

“You have to make your own happiness, wherever you are. Your job isn’t going to make you happy, your spouse isn’t going to make you happy, the weather isn’t going to make you happy… You have to decide what you want, and you have to find that way of doing it, whether or not the outside circumstances are going to participate in your success… You have to be able to create your own happiness, period.” - Debbie Millman