5 Things To Start Doing For a More Positive You

5 Things to start doing for yourself today

For some positivity is second nature and a natural state of being. For the rest of us life sometimes gets in the way. Over time that natural positivity fades away. Until we have nothing to cling to except our sanity (yes I’m slightly over dramatic).

The truth is, life treats us all the same. The only thing that is different is how we choose to react to the situations that we find ourselves in. Our reactions, in turn, affect our emotions. Or at least that is how it’s supposed to work. The problem comes in when situations directly affect our emotions. They bypass our minds and evoke emotionally charged responses. This way takes away our control and we are left to go about life at the mercy of life’s events.

You need to train your mind to recognise that you are in control. Even the most positive of people cannot control what happens in their life, it’s all in the response. You can recognise an interaction with a colleague as something out of your control and choose how to react. The best reaction to negativity is non-reaction. Non-reaction won’t lead to an emotion filled rage on your insides.

So here are a few tips from the peanut gallery on how to be positive

5 things to start doing for yourself

1. Ignore the news

Ah the news, our to connect to whats wrong with the world. I’ve realised that the news is a stream of negativity that in actual fact has no practical use in our daily lives. We already know bad things happen right? So why should we be listening to the gory details? There is no logical explanation for you to listen to the news. It’s a bad idea to let this stream of negativity into your life.
You won’t miss out on important world events. Those will reach you through the grapevine or internet somehow.

2. Be conscious of your environment

Taking stock of the elements in your environment is key. Things like the music you listen to, movies you watch or the games you play do have an influence on your mood. Maybe not immediately but in the long run it can. Rap and rock are my genre’s of choice but I noticed it’s filled with negative lyrics. I urge you to do an experiment, exclude these environmental negativities for a while. Replace them with other music or a game that have a positive affect on your mood and note the difference. As a rule after conducting my own trail run, i’ve excluded rap and rock from my playlist at work. I now listen to music with no lyrics at work.

Test the effects of the following genres on your mood. Reggae, Jazz Fusion (Jazz and Latin American) and Classical.

Another way to be more conscious of your environment is to start meditating. Meditation helps you to become a better observer of the situations you find yourself in. Better observation allows you to take a step back and respond in a manner you approve of. Meditation can help you in be more present in the moment which is excellent for getting off of auto pilot.

3. Make gratitude a part of your day

If there is anything from these tips that you should actually take away and incorporate its this one. Gratitude will assist you in recognizing the positive things. Appreciating things will train your mind to take note of the positives in your life. The things you do have, that you have accomplished, the things you can do. You’ll also learn to ignore all the “nots” and “cants”. Start by being grateful for what you have, say them out loud or write them down. I know for some this practice starts with great amounts sarcasm. For me it started with:”Good on you cat, you got onto the counter and ate off the dirty plates. I’m grateful that you found a snack, sista’s doin’ it for themselves.

Alex Ikonn has a 5 minute journal that is worth checking out as a way to introduce gratitude into your life.

4. Take a look at those around you

Take stock of those around you. During my stock take i saw that most of my negativity stems from growing up in a society that loves to complain. A complaint is the easiest way to strike up a conversation. “Oooh this que is taking forever” is met with many grunts and nodding heads. Saying something positive like:” I love your shoes” results in the person feeling uncomfortable. Also my family is so logical. By that I mean bordering on the verge of cynical, which has trained me to hope for the best and expect the worse.

Do your stock take. See what habits of negativity you’ve learnt from those around you. Be aware of them and choose to break those habits. That way you will not fall into those conversational traps and thought patterns.

5. Acceptance of those who aren’t

Some of us can’t choose who we have in our company for most of the day. You can’t choose your colleagues after all (unless you have some blackmail on someone in the HR department at work). You also cannot tell those around you how to live. (You may want to but you can’t). You can’t change people’s outlooks and their love for complaining. The best reaction to those around you who are negative, is no reaction. Putting energy into dealing with someone who isn’t a positive influence in your life is a waste of time.

You should focus your energy on things and people who you find worth while. Where you spend your energy, that is the aspect in your life that will grow.

So yes that’s my two cents worth.

If these tips are helpful, or if you have more please share them with me.

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How to Overcome Bouts of Sadness

How to overcome bouts of sadnessI think all of us have reached a stage in our lives, at some point or another, where it’s hard to get up and start the day. Living your life seems tedious and exhausting. All your energy and life force have been dragged out of you to the point where a vacation won’t do the trick (maybe a month of sleep will). Some might called this depression, I prefer calling it a bout of sadness.

Bouts of sadness can be caused by anything from hormones, vitamin or nutrient imbalances or too much mental, emotional and physical stress. Overcoming them seem hard to do when you’re in the middle of the situation but they can be overcome quite easily if you follow these steps. Bouts of sadness can also pass with time as your hormones correct themselves and you receive the correct nutrition.

How to overcome bouts of sadness

1.     Avoid caffeine

Lower your coffee intake during bouts of sadness. Coffee is a comfort for a lot of people but during bouts of sadness caffeine can hinder rather than help the situation. There is no conclusive evidence that coffee causes depression. However, the increased alertness that comes with the consumption of coffee can translate into feelings of anxiety and cause insomnia, which can indirectly affect your mood and cause bouts of sadness. I would not suggest that regular coffee drinkers stop having coffee all together but limiting yourself can make you see results and a relief in your symptoms.

2.     Have your fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and vitamins that can help reduce feelings of sadness caused by poor nutrition. Iron deficiency is the main culprit when it comes to feeling sluggish and tired.  Most of us forget to eat proper meals during times of stress. The symptoms of poor nutrition lead to sadness, which for most means more junk food. If vegetables and fruits aren’t your thing, go buy some multi vitamins as an alternative.

3.     Get your 8 hours

Some people function on less than 8 hours sleep a day and some people going through a hard time might want to sleep way more (that month of sleep I was talking about earlier). It is important that you first and foremost make sure that you are giving your body enough time to sleep. Sleep helps your body heal and reset. Without that time your hormones will go out of whack. If you’re awake more than you should be, you are using resources that your body doesn’t have which can lead to burnout. Similarly, you should not be oversleeping, set your alarm for 8 hours of sleep every night and wake up when your alarm goes off. This feeds into one of the points below of not breaking routine but also avoiding the negative side effects of oversleeping.

4.     Do not isolate yourself

As tempting as it may seem to draw the curtain on the world when you’re having a bout of sadness, don’t do it. Do not take a sick day and stay at home alone, do not say “no” to visiting your friend on the weekend. Isolating yourself is feeding the problem instead of working toward a solution. You could be adding feelings of loneliness and a lack of support to your arsenal when you isolate yourself. So despite how badly you want to stay at home, get out there, go to work and stay social. (You might want to forewarn your friends that you wont be a ton of fun).

5.      Do not break routine

Yes you’re drained and feeling exhausted and now I’m being mean and telling you not to break routine by carrying on with all the hard work that caused this in the first place. As I said before we aren’t trying to feed the problem, we are solving it. Staying in routine is the best thing you can do for yourself. Still go to gym, still go to work and still cook your own meals. Going off routine is not a good idea as you might be adding feelings of being lost, empty or like something is strange or missing.

Bouts of sadness are temporary, they are a speed bump in your mental health that can be overcome by taking better care of yourself for a little while.  If after reading this you think that you are suffering from depression, which is a pervasive sadness and dulling of experience that won’t go away without formal intervention, you should consider seeking help immediately.

How Not to Be Lonely

Stop the cycle of loneliness & isolation. Be popular

So how often do you feel lonely, unpopular and just generally down about the prospects of building meaningful relationships with other people? You might lack the confidence to go out alone and put yourself into situations where you could meet new people. Starting conversations with strangers can be complicated because we don’t know if we’ll be received well and have the same interests as the interesting person standing in line with us.

I’ve been noticing that these feelings are quite popular and prevalent today (and can’t help to think that the internet could be hindering our social skills rather than helping). For example, in my house it’s common to spend a few minutes of face time with the family before we all get onto our computers, cell phones and tablets. It seems increasingly difficult (or people are more reluctant) to spend time with others. For some, social interaction can be taxing at times and it’s much easier to unwind after a hard day at work by messing about on a phone because with a phone you don’t have to think, consider, talk and sometimes “put up with” people and their nuances.

Most would argue that the internet cuts across borders and brings people together. We do have our social media and all these wonderful messaging apps after all. Yet the internet takes away the need for human interaction which in turn can influence our ability to communicate with people in the real word. The result is an increased lack of confidence to approach people in real life situations and a lack of social skills.

Human interaction is a basic need each of us need to fulfill. It can lift you mood, increase your self worth and confidence. A lack of human interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness, unpopularity and can mess with your sense of belonging. Most of us see other people in our day to day lives but find the idea of approaching them absurd for all the above mentioned reasons and whole lot more.

This general sense of isolation that we have become complacent with in the past is one of the things I felt I needed to overcome. I craved having some influence in other’s lives and to perhaps make some friends along the way. So I came up with 3 things to implement in my life to increase the amount of meaningful social interactions I have and perhaps increase my popularity. Here was the game plan I came up with. I think I stumbled across the recipe for world peace. (Okay maybe that is over exaggerating but it does work well).

 How not to be lonely

The solution:

1. Create meaningful interactions with people

Aim to make your common interactions more meaningful. Its helpful to keep in mind that the person on the other end of the phone or behind the counter at the store is a person, with a life and a whole different set of experiences to yours. You don’t have to spend more time than you would normally spend around people. Our schedules don’t really allow for changes that include more time with others anyway.

You can make your interactions more meaningful by practicing looking people in the eye when handing them your cash at the store. Ask “How are you?” or “How has your day been?” or pay the stranger a compliment if you feel there’s something worthwhile to mention. This advice might seem silly to some but it’s a small step to opening yourself up to others and increasing your popularity.

Friendliness is greatly appreciated by most and will foster confidence in yourself. By initiating conversation you’re opening yourself up to possible negative reactions (but at the end of the day if you’re met by a bad attitude you can just point and laugh at the grumpy person). By actively starting conversations I’ve found that most people love talking about themselves and appreciate others showing an interest in them.

By creating meaningful interactions with people, people in places that you frequent are more likely to remember you and this in turn will have an effect on the way that people react to you in the future.

2. Give a little (with the emphasis on “little”)

I’m not suggesting being selfless with your time, money and effort to the extent that you burden yourself. You’re allowed to be selective with the resources (eg. time and money) you give away. Most of us have full plates already and the last thing being charitable should make you feel, is burdened. So decide what you could possibly do for someone to make their lives a little easier and to what degree you’re willing to commit to doing things for others.

I’m giving you permission to say “No” to dropping your colleague off at the buss stop that is not en route to your house after work when all you want to do is go home and nap. A good way to start giving a little is, for example, carrying someone’s groceries to their car or making someone a cup of coffee. I, for instance, had made study notes earlier in the year and came across a student who had failed the module and would have to redo it, so I go into contact with her and offered to send her my notes.

Small gestures will make others react more positively to you. Good intentions go far in the way of reaching out to people and will make people open up to you to in a positive way. (There is a fine line between giving a little and being suck up so watch your balance there).

3. Let people know you’re thinking of them

People react well to others taking an interest in them and a short message or phone call goes a long way in building friendships. So take a second to imagine how you would react if you got a message on Facebook from a long lost friend to tell you that they had this crazy memory and reminisced about the past a bit. You’d probably be delightfully taken aback that someone you had forgot existed said they were thinking of you.

Most people go through their lives feeling isolated, unworthy, unloved, unpopular or unrecognized. Some people who I admire and look up struggle with feelings like these and the only possible explanation is that they have no way to know that people look up to them, think of them or love them. Stop the cycle of loneliness and isolation and reach out to people you find noteworthy.

What are your tips and tricks for increasing your popularity and avoiding feelings of isolation? Do you struggle with starting conversations with people? Please share your thoughts and ideas.

3 Things Being Retrenched Taught Me

retrenched

So earlier this month I was called into my boss’ office and told that there was “very very bad news”. Our regional branch office (the one I’m employed with) is closing down and that I, along with my other colleague, should start looking for other employment immediately as the office will stop operating on the 31st of January 2015. So at first I thought: “Wow universe, first Monday of the year and you kick me in the face. Thanks.”

Upon sitting down at my desk, after a conversation filled with motivational words with my other half, I looked up at my hand written pink post-it note on my cubicle wall that reads:”Do what you love and the rest will follow”. This post-it was written by me a couple of months ago to remind myself that just because I’m not paid for doing what I love shouldn’t stop me from doing it on my own time. This sentence has led me to start this blog and inspired some changes within myself.

So here is what being retrenched taught me:

3 things being retrenched taught me

1     This retrenchment is getting you out of comfort zone

So looking up that post-it note I mentioned earlier, I told myself: “Myself,  if you really believe that practicing what you love will make everything fall into place, now is the time to test it”. Please understand that I loved what I do as Office Manager, even with the little career growth opportunity. In hindsight I would’ve started stagnating (scratching at increases year after year).

Loving what you do and doing what you love are two different concepts, the one calls for you to love your job, the other (doing what you love) is answering your to your vocation. That is what this blog is for.  I love sharing experiences,motivating people and perhaps help others learn or think differently about things. I would like to help people see that life is not as complicated as we make it out to be.

Essentially a retrenchment can act as an opportunity to change your trajectory, an opportunity to seek growth, development and a company that values people outside of what they mean to the company (or whatever it is you wish the retrenching company did for you that they didn’t). You’ve lost your anchor, you’re free to explore new things.

So now instead of grabbing at any job that provides a stable income, I invite you to find your fit. Take time to look around and get a job in a field you’d enjoy, even if you thought that you would never succeed by doing what you like or love. Yes, some of us do not have the luxury of being picky but I urge you to look after yourself in the best way you can given the time an opportunities available to you. Move to that country, open that business and apply for that position.

2   Your company does not have your best interest at heart

This is pretty self explanatory but might come as a shock to some. Most companies that are retrenching will not go the extra mile for you. Harsh i know, but no matter how nice your boss is, he will probably not give you more than the bare minimum in terms of notice or severance. The company is in a difficult spot and management has their interest at heart, that is how businesses are (there are exceptions but they are few and far between). Therefore it is very important for you to look out for yourself and stand up for what is yours.

You do this by looking at your employment contract and making sure that the company is acting in accordance to this. Have they adhered to the governing labour law in terms of notice and severance payment? If not, you have to bring it to your immediate superior, HR or IR department’s attention. These contracts and laws are there to protect your best interest so make sure you use them.

Have they formally communicated with you in writing about the reasons for your retrenchment? Do you have a definite date at which your employment expires? You would need this information to start your job search and to claim from salary protection policies. There is a certain process that companies have to follow, these processes are put in place to ensure that your retrenchment is not surrounded with uncertainty and will enable to move on from this job speedily and with the least amount of mess.

3     Get yourself out there ASAP

Whatever your plans are for the future or whether you have no clue where to go, you need to start getting yourself out there before the dust settles. Update your CV’s and on-line profiles to include your current employment. Give your CV a spring clean by taking off irrelevant positions (Like that baby sitting job you had for 6 months in high school. It’s not going to help your case if you’re looking for a career in the banking industry).

Start thinking about issues such as, what salary bracket you fall in now with your extra experience. Maybe you were due to receive an increase soon, had lunch support and a fuel allowance? Add this up so that you know you’re not selling yourself short when you start talking numbers with possible employers.

So now it’s back to the job hunt and swimming in the shark tank with other hungry candidates, awkward interviews and dodgy offices. Yes this is not the optimum situation. What i’d like you take away from this post is you are free to go anywhere, just make sure you look out for you, because it is no one else’s responsibility to make sure that you get the best deal.

Have you been retrenched or fired? What did you learn? Please let me know in the comment section.