“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter”. - Walt Disney
It is true that life is truly complex. It’s full of twists and turns and long days that seem to never end. It’s full of stressful work days, large homework assignments, tensions among family or friends. Sometimes, you feel trapped, angry, upset, frustrated with the world and it’s surroundings.
For me, at least, I’ve had those days. The days when calling it a “rough” day doesn’t even cover it. Days where I’ve felt lost, alone, trapped, in a never ending negative cycle. Days where I’ve felt there was nothing and no one that could fix it. However, I have found that the only person who can make the biggest impact on my life and how to change it for the better, is me. So while I may not be able to fix every one of my problems or struggles in life, I have found that just five different changes in how I go about my day, can have a world of impact on not only my mental health, but my outlook on life entirely.
#1: Focus on your strengths and not on fixing your weaknesses.
Most people are concerned with fixing the things they’re not the best at; their weaknesses. I know I have been. Seeing one person who’s good at something and realizing I’m not, has in the past made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I felt that because, for example, they were so good at meeting new people, it meant I had to be just as good at going out of my way to meet new people and put myself out there. The fact that I wasn’t good at it, made me feel inferior or less than them. But this is not true.
Just because you have don’t have the same strengths and capabilities as someone else, doesn’t mean you are less than them. Rather, it means you can take your own strengths and work better with the other people around you by combining those strengths. A thriving community relies on diversity. Different people with different strengths all working together is better than a group of people with only one specialty.
#2: Be kind to one another and surround yourself with others who will do the same.
One thing we will always need more of in this world, are people who are willing to be kind to each other for no reason but that they want to. I have noticed that it makes a world of difference if you take just a little time out of your day to compliment someone, to smile at them, to treat them with respect. Even if you are having a rough day, you cannot take it out on other people, because we don’t know the kind of day they’ve had; it could be just as bad, or worse. Helping to spread a bit of positivity here and there whether it’s through a random act of kindness or a simple smile, can change your mindset completely.
Surrounding yourself with positive people, I have found, is a large contributing factor toward a more stable mental health. So much anguish, hatred, envy, and conflict in this world can be solved with just a bit of kindness. It might not have the power to solve all of the world’s problems, but I promise it can help on a day to day basis.
#3: Count your blessings.
Even when everything seems like it’s going wrong and you think all the world is against you, if you take the time to think of just one thing in your life, just one, that you’re thankful for, it will help you get through it. Instead of focusing on everything that’s going wrong and everything that you don’t have, remember what you do have, no matter how small. Maybe your friend bought you a slushy that day. Maybe you remember your dog waiting for you at home. Maybe you know your parents are always thinking of you and ready to help.
Whatever it is that you consider a positive in your life, just remembering that it’s still there, even among the chaos, it can be a very helpful grounding tool. It helps you acknowledge that not everything in your life right now is bad. It gives you something to hold onto and something to be thankful for.
#4: Slow down and don’t sweat the small stuff.
One thing I have recently learned is how often our days fly by without taking a moment to savor anything. This often happens with food, for example, we shove everything into our mouth because we are hungry and we don’t take the time to truly savor it. The same can be said for most of us in our daily routine. Racing through the day just to finish it can lead to that never ending cycle of negativity. We don’t truly experience anything, we don’t truly live.
So when you can, take a breath. Take a step back. Pause for a moment and think to yourself, take some you time and just take it all in; every little aspect of your day. Take a moment to say hi to the people around you. Take a moment to capture life at it’s most beautiful moments.
Make sure to not let negative little events or arguments ruin your entire day. Move forward from them. An important thing to realize is that while something may seem like a big deal at the time, it won’t matter tomorrow. The best thing you can do is keep a smile on your face and know there is more to life than one inconvenience or dispute.