Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference: 30 Days Of Positivity Week 1

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference: 30 Days Of Positivity Week 1

How the first week of my 30-day positivity challenge is already changing my view.
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Have you ever experienced a point in your life where it feels like everything has gone wrong, nothing has happened the way “it was supposed to” (according to your idea, anyway) and you can’t stop the spin of anxiety and negativity you seem to experience every day?

I have.

And I’ve been looking for answers and a way out.

I may have found one.

I came across The Truth Practice on Pinterest, and I Pinned the piece “10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness and Reduce Anxiety.” As I read through it, I was inspired to challenge myself: to 30 days of positivity.

So, for 30 days, I will not think negatively about anything I am experiencing, and I will not voice negative thoughts. Notice I don’t say “try.” In the immortal words of Yoda: “Do or do not; there is no try.”

For me, saying “try” gives me an out. I am challenging myself; I will catch myself when those negative thoughts swoop in before they can take hold in my mind.

Here are the 10 things I will be focusing on in the next 30 days:

1. Stay in the present moment

2. Don’t analyze the situation

3. Accept there is only so much that can be done

4. Trust in something bigger than yourself

5. Find beauty in every moment

6. Stop labeling everything

7. Take action (if necessary), then move on

8. Surrender to what is

9. Focus on one task, one activity, one thought at a time

10. Embrace being surprised

These sound terrifying, especially numbers three, eight and 10. I know me, though, and I know those particular concerns are the main cause of my anxiety.

The Beginning

I didn’t know where to begin. How do I go about vanquishing dark and negative thoughts?

Then I had an idea: make a “negativity list.”

I wrote down any and all negative thoughts I have had recently, releasing them. I prayed over the list, focusing on asking God to release me of my negativity and that I would hear Him during this challenge.

Then, I ripped up that paper into small pieces and threw it away. And, in all honesty, I already felt better, as if part of the weight had already been lifted.

And, really, I haven’t given a second to those thoughts since. In fact, I don’t even remember what I wrote down.

How did it go?

Week one went about as well as could be expected, given I have to learn to retrain my mind.

Initially, I began to make connections to what sets off my negative thoughts. Once I made those connections, it felt a little easier to control them.

Unfortunately, this gave me a bit of a false sense of comfort. I began to feel as though on day one I conquered it all because I had already learned what it felt like quite a bit.

But it’s sort of like that first real day of class: you go in thinking this is so cool! I got this, easy peasy. Then you get further into your semester and your thinking changes to did I not learn anything?!

I think I expected things to suddenly be different, brighter and lighter. I would be positive for a minute and suddenly my world would flip upside down (or rightside up?) and everything would be alright. But, surprise, that isn’t how it works.

Then, I stumbled onto some mighty, existential questions.

Does saying “no” count as being negative?

Does finding what you don’t like count as negativity?

Is saying “I don’t want to” or “I don’t want that” negative?

These are questions I have started to explore, though I am nowhere near answering them.

Re-framing my mind to be positive did seem to give me more energy to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. It did seem to make the mundane less, well, mundane.

I prayed more, too, and paid closer attention to the Bible study I am currently working on. While it can bring out powerful emotions and can begin to make me feel depressed, once I release that energy through prayer, I feel better.

Maybe not perfect, maybe not 100 percent positive, but I can feel the change my God has already brought to me.

Listening to podcasts also helped a great deal. They helped me to divert some of that negative energy by listening to something more interesting and that might educate me in some way. (If you’re curious, some of my favorite podcasts are TED Radio Hour, LORE, and, because I’m a huge "Harry Potter" fan, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.)

I also took Belle to a dog beach during week one, and that helped not only my positivity, but also my self-confidence.

Once the newness of the challenge wore off, though, I hit what I call a “neutral day.” I didn’t feel positive, but I didn’t feel negative. I just felt…there—in the car, at work, at home. And the only thing that helped was having Belle nearby.

What did I learn?

I learned three very important things in the first week.

The first: don’t expect monumental change right away.

Being positive is a lot harder than I thought. It’s not just about telling myself hey, I’m doing alright! Most of the time, I can’t tell myself that because I don’t believe it—I’m not okay, and just saying it won’t make me okay.

But the small changes, like re-framing my hatred of getting up early into positively reminding myself that I wouldn’t have to rush to get out the door, ended up making a big difference, and they actually helped to set the tone for the rest of the week.

The second: for me, positivity and confidence are linked.

If I feel confident in myself, even if it’s in how well I have trained Belle, I instantly become more positive. I need to find other times and other ways I feel confident to replicate that feeling. This was one of those small changes I was talking about.

Belle graduated from training this week, so I automatically felt more confident in bringing her to a place to play off-leash. I think I exuded that confidence, which meant she listened better.

Her positive reactions to her commands then gave me more confidence that I had done the right thing and trained her properly. It may seem like a small thing, but, to me, it was huge.

The third thing I learned is a little deeper: I truly need to allow my faith to guide me.

I have always been honest in saying that I am a Christian. I think I tried to know my God, though, without reading His Word, and I think sometimes I tried to know the “right, Christian answer” without really knowing my God.

Now is my time to actually get to know Him. I won’t lie: I’m terrified. But I have to believe He has healing and an amazing path in store for me.

I am looking forward to how He changes me over the next several days.

If you would like to read about my daily walk in this journey, check out my blog. I’ve also been using #positivitychallenge, so feel free to join me on Twitter as well.

So, which of the 10 ways to practice mindfulness terrify you? Are you ready to get positive?
Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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You Don't Need A 'Bikini Body' To Fully Love Yourself This Summer

You don't need to be stick-thin to feel good about your body.

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One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Want to know why? Because it's true.

I could look in the mirror one day and feel totally confident about myself. Then I'll see a post on Instagram of some beautiful girl, feel awful, and wonder why I don't look like that. But there's a reason I don't look like that — because I'm me, not them.

The fact of the matter is that we need to love ourselves for who we are. We need to stop comparing our beauty to that of others. We are all our own people and we should feel confident in our beauty.

Bikini season is a major source of struggle for me and many others. Everyone is lounging on the beach in bikinis and you feel like you just want to hide under your towel. Every other photo on your social media is a super skinny girl from high school showing off her body. You will NEVER see a photo of me in a bikini on social media because I'm simply not comfortable in my body enough to show it off like that. I have always wished that I was, but at the same time, that's not who I am.

You don't need to be stick thin to feel good about your body. Every body is beautiful, and we need to embrace that. If we constantly look to others as a source of comparison, we will literally never be happy in our own skin.

Bikini season is tough as it is, don't make it tougher on yourself by allowing your mind to take over. Enjoy your spring break, enjoy your summer, enjoy your life. You deserve it. You deserve happiness.

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