Need a boost? Researchers are finding that looking at the sunny side of life does far more than raise our spirits. Studies have shown that cultivating an optimistic outlook is key for building resilience and finding more joy in our life. It promises to boost our energy levels, immune system, and connection with others; it also improves our overall physical and emotional health.
Harnessing resilience is not an accident – it’s a day-to-day choice. We were meant to live a life free from worry, shame, and resentment; but it won’t happen by chance. Leading scientists have shown that the brain can generate new cells and pathways, and that it’s possible to retrain the circuitry in the brain to promote positivity and resilience.
In other words, cultivating a better sense of well-being through the ups and downs can be considered an achievable skill. By learning and regularly practicing skills that promote positivity, we can improve our ability to be resilient and to cultivate joy. Here are a few mindsets that are sure to foster you getting there:
Celebrate the small wins
It can be transformative to take notice and to celebrate our small wins, as where we put our attention determines how we feel. Acknowledging success sparks the reward circuitry of our brains. When feel-good chemicals are released, we get a sense of accomplishment that creates a happiness factor that moves us further towards our next achievement.
Focusing on our small wins reinforces that we can move forward, even when the tough days hit. By remembering our past accomplishments and contributions, we build our confidence, improve our ability to move forward, and expand our joy.
Can you visualize accomplishments that have brought you closer to achieving your dreams?
No win is too small to acknowledge, you’ll be happier and more resilient when you take notice and applaud all of your positive micro-moments along the way.
Develop a learner’s mindset
Every day we either win or we learn. An experimenter doesn’t get upset when things don’t work right the first time because he/she knows it’s all part of the process. There is no shame involved. Failing needs to be redefined as an important part of learning a new way of life. Mistakes are simply learning experiences, it’s vital information we use to grow.
Take Thomas Edison, the American businessman who invented the lightbulb. It took Edison almost 10,000 attempts to create a lightbulb – and his response to repeated attempts was, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
In other words, he found success because he didn’t let failure stand in his way and he chose to focus on what went right. The key is to simply turn bad days into good data. Instead of being the victim of your life, be the scientist of your life and study it. Be inquisitive of what went wrong and determine the best supports and strategies to move forward and grow.
Transform negative self-talk
Our uninvestigated thoughts can steal our happiness and derail our joy. Learning to question our thoughts and not to believe every negative thing we think has been shown to be as effective as taking an antidepressant medication.
Dr. Daniel Amen, one of the world’s leading psychiatrists, has a simple exercise for challenging negative thoughts: “Whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous or out of control, write down what you’re thinking. Then question your thoughts. Ask yourself, “Is it true?” Just those three words can cause a revolution in your life.”
Getting our thoughts right and short circuiting a negative spiral by questioning our thoughts can have a transformative effect on our outlook, our work performance, our relationships, and our overall health. Consider challenging any negative thoughts with a few questions:
Challenge it: What is untrue about the thought? How does believing it make me feel? What would my life be like if I could let that negative thought go?
Change it: Is there another reaction I can have that will lead me on a more productive path? Is there a truth I can hold on to in place of the lie?
Focus on building deeper connections
If you want to predict how happy someone is, find out about their social networks. Having strong relationships has been shown to strengthen the immune system, extend life expectancy, improve self-worth, increase a sense of purpose, and reduce anxiety and depression. We are wired to interact and be intertwined with others, we need to give and take, and we need to belong.
According to Social Psychologist, Barbara Fredrickson Ph.D., “Love is our supreme emotion: it’s presence or absence in our lives influences everything we feel, think, do and become.
When you experience soul-expanding love, you not only become better able to see the larger tapestry of life, but you also set yourself on a pathway that leads to more health, happiness and wisdom.”
If you want to be happy, be a friend. Identify your most important relationships, and think about how you can be a true friend to your partner, children, parents, colleagues, and clients, etc. Your intention to love and be loved is an absolute key to building life-long happiness.
Romans 12:2b says, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” By celebrating small wins, developing a learner’s mindset, reframing your self-talk and focusing on deeper connections, you will be well on your way to cultivating a life with more resilience and joy.