When I decided that what I wanted out of my life was to be happy, I also realized that to reach this goal my normal mental models wouldn’t cut it. That self-deprecation that I knew so well would have to stop. Instead of tormenting myself with all my faults and indiscretions I would have to change the way I felt about myself and others. I had to break the thought patterns that were holding me back and create new ones that would propel me forward.
It’s not easy. You don’t just wake up one day and become an optimist. It is like a sport, you have to work at it to get good.
I’ve been working at this for 2 years now and I still need to practice every day. You practice by controlling your thoughts and redirecting them.
Here’s a little list of 9 things I have to remind myself every day.
It’s more important to be nice than it is to be right
This doesn’t apply to everyone, this applies to people with the insatiable urge to be right. When winning an argument is more important than someone else’s feelings you will say things that you don’t mean. Things that aren’t nice, or true, or right. If you are argumentative and domineering when you convince someone to believe you, remember that it is more important to be nice than to convince someone that you know what you’re talking about. Don’t hurt someone else’s feelings just to stroke your ego.
Don’t judge what you don’t know
There is never an excuse to be mean to someone. Just because your having a bad day doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk no matter what happened to you. That being said, we have all been there. We’ve snapped at someone we shouldn’t have, someone who didn’t deserve it, we have been the jerk who woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Give people the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know how their day starts or their night ends. You never know what someone else is going through.
Be nice when you feel your worst
I do this almost subconsciously and I couldn’t really tell you why. Part of it might be that I am trying to play off how upset I really am on the inside, but I think the other part is to get the emotional boost of being nice to people and being treated nicely back. When I am having a bad day I always treat my cashiers and servers with a huge smile and my extra nice voice. I half thought to myself that, “God damn, I want people the be this nice to me”. We get what we give.
Other people’s negativity doesn’t affect me
You will run into negative people whether you like it or not. As much as you might want to, you can’t control the way other people act. Take a deep breath and remember that they can only affect you if you allow them to. You can’t control everything but you can control how you react. Don’t let other people drag you down with them.
Don’t drink to much wine at dinner
I mean if we’re being honest (and I hope we are) I remind myself this often enough to mention it. At dinner time I agree with myself that I’ll just have “2 small glasses”. Despite how much I want to drink the entire bottle some nights.
Drink plenty of water
God this is so tough for me. I’m definitely getting better with practice. Also, drinking enough water on a daily basis has had a really amazing effect on my body. I was so dehydrated before that my pee smelled like coffee (true story) Once, I started drinking enough water I realized what a huge difference it makes and vowed to do it on a regular basis.
Take criticism lightly but earnestly
I hate being on the receiving end of criticism. I do not take it well even though sometimes it’s something that I need to hear. It’s not like I think I’m perfect and have no faults, but it is really hard for me to hear when I am doing something wrong. Remind yourself that criticism is meant to be helpful and if it is anything but, then take it with a grain of salt.
What other people think is irrelevant
I have to actually drill this into my head every day. Eventually I listen. I’m in a stage where I just have to block out my own voice, “what if people think this is stupid, or weird? What if no one reads my post? Even worse, what if people read my post and laugh at it?” I block out that voice and remind myself to listen to a different one, “If they judge you, so what, their opinions don’t matter”. Listen to that voice.
Slow down and be easy on yourself
This is a newer one for me. If you feel like you never get enough done like there is just never enough time in one day. Give yourself permission to slow down. Everything doesn’t have to happen right now or today. Your efforts will show over time but only if you don’t burn yourself out and give up because you got overwhelmed. Give yourself a break and just slow down. Life is meant to be enjoyed.
The mantras and reminders you give yourself every day have a huge impact on how you feel about yourself and about your life. Give yourself the chance to be happy and pay attention to the voice inside your head. Make sure that what you are telling yourself is true and not self-deprecating. Don’t remind yourself of your weight, how much you hate your job, that things could be better if…. Try to be grateful for all that you have and make mental models that develop, not insult, the person you are.