STEP 3: Increase Your Positivity
Do the phenomenal events sweep you away? Or, are you feeling left behind and a little deflated?
Optimism and pessimism form your expectations. Expectations, especially about ourselves, tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies and so affect outcomes.
The benefits of being optimistic are impressive. Optimists tend to be happier, healthier, more successful and live longer than pessimists. Remember being optimistic does not hurt anyone either.
Alice and John are happy where they live. One day in the local press, they see a house advertised in a road they dreamed of living in. They become excited; work out their finances and go to see the house the following weekend. Alice falls in love with it and John immediately offers the asking price. The offer is accepted and they start the legal process towards purchasing the property. Each night they dream about their new house, moving all their furniture and planning the changes they would like to make.
After three months, the estate agent calls to tell them the chain has collapsed. The house is taken-off the market.
Alice is bitterly disappointed and bursts into floods of tears. They were scheduled to visit friends that day but she cannot face it. She feels like their world has fallen apart and she is very inconsolable. “I don’t deserve to enjoy myself and I don’t want to inflict my company on others.” One phone call and her optimism has disintegrated.
The result is she sinks into depression, stops enjoying where they live and refuses to plan for the future. This affects her husband, tries the patience of her friends and family and affects her lifestyle.
Can you recognise the scenario?
Now rewind to the call from the estate agent.
Her first reaction is to think upset but this time she stops herself and challenges her negative reaction. Her self-talk might go differently:
“Well, I’m disappointed we didn’t get the house, but it is not the end of the world. There will be other houses and I was happy with where we lived anyway. Anyway, I’m off to see friends today and I’m not going to let this disappointment spoil that. Anyway, it’ll cheer me up.” So she goes to see her friends and carries on with her life as normal, thus avoiding all the depression and misery described above.
Now think about how you could react positively or negatively in various imaginary situations.
You won’t change overnight but the more you work at it, the easier it will become. Eventually, an optimistic response will become your normal reaction when things go wrong.
Exercise for Happiness
- Exercise is often prescribed for the treatment of depression and anxiety
- Even short sessions of exercise have been shown to increase anti-anxiety effects
- Regular exercise reduces reliance on other drugs, alcohol or bad diet
- Aerobic and anaerobic exercise counteract feelings of hopelessness, withdrawal and inactivity
- Moods such as tension, anger and even fatigue are positively affected by exercise
- Exercise will enhance self-esteem
- Get the benefits of socialising and being around other positive people in the gym or a class