The trouble I’ve found is that a lot of people who aren’t generally happy and cheerful think that they don’t deserve to be happy or in a good mood. They believe that they don’t have the right conditions to be happy or that their own happiness is out with their control. Due to this mix of reasons they won’t even attempt to choose to make themselves happy. They want to leave it the universe to decide if they’re happy or not.
Others may say they want to be happy but their own underlying insecurities make them sabotage any attempts they make to change for the better, it actually stops them from building better habits. For some, their self-esteem is so low they think they deserve to be miserable so unwittingly sabotage their lives in so many areas just to confirm their own vision of being miserable.
Some unfortunate people may have had unsupportive parents or friends that have brainwashed them into thinking they can’t achieve things or that they’re stupid by measuring them against their own standards. Whereas some other people may say they want to be happy … but they are unwilling to change their daily habits and their misconceptions about the world – it’s a horrible place, I have a horrible job, I can’t be happy until such and such a thing happens, or it’s my parents / bosses / friends / spouses / government’s fault that I’m unhappy … excuses, reasons and bad misconceptions! All of these get in the way of creating your own happiness.
The first thing you need to know is that there are a lot of factors out there in the world that have a huge impact on how you feel (your mood), how you see yourself (your self-image), what you expect to happen (good things or bad things), and how you approach things (complain about it or look for the solution).
THE NEGATIVE INFLUENCES
There are so many negative influences around that shape you, you have to be aware of these and make sure you don’t let them dictate who you really are and how you see yourself. Some negative influences:
- The news on TV / Internet
- Friends that put you down
- Friends / Others that treat you badly
- Friends / Others that are always complaining about things
- Teachers / Coaches / Parents that only point out your bad points or mistakes
- Teachers / Coaches / Parents that constantly moan about things
- You complaining about things too often
- You focussing on all the things you don’t have rather than what you do have
- Your own self-talk – “I can’t do this!”, “I’m rubbish at that!”
- The way you think – “This will never work”, “I’m not good at that”
Let’s take negative people for example. It could be a friend, teacher, parent, coach, or even some bully in your class. You have no control over the things this person does but if you hear them enough you will start to believe them … so if you have a petty friend that is constantly putting you down or making you feel inferior, you have to make a decision that improves the situation for you before it starts to eat away at your self-worth. You can choose to face the person and tell them how their actions make you feel or you can remove yourself from having to be in this person’s company.
Whether you still see the person or not (sometimes things cannot be avoided – parents / teachers etc) you can decide yourself that you won’t let one person’s negative opinion of you impact how you see yourself. This is the other person’s problem – maybe they’re jealous, maybe they get a hard time from others so take it out on you, maybe they’re just having a bad day. You don’t fully know, so don’t judge. Either way, this is not your problem. Do not let their issue become your issue. You need to be the bigger person and care enough about yourself that you decide not to let this affect your mood or confidence. The only way they win is if you start believing the lies or heat of the moment comments they are saying.
Have a look at your friends, your coaches, your teachers and even your parents. How many of them are giving you praise, encouragement and support? Now, how many of them are filling your head with negative comments? You might be hearing “Terrible pass”, “Is that the best you can do?”, “Nobody likes you” … the list goes on and on.
If you listen to all these negative opinions of you and start to believe them you will stop yourself from achieving great things. You allow the throw away comments people make in the heat of the moment to form your own image of yourself. If you listen enough to what these people have to say you’ll start believing that “nobody does like you”, “that you’re not good at football” or that “you’ll never be any good at maths” … and your own reality is what you believe!
It would be easy to say just ignore these comments but I know it’s harder than that. That is why I am trying to teach you how to create a healthy self-image and positive attitude so that when these things do happen, you are in a better position to handle them and stay strong. I am explaining why you must make the right choices as to what you allow to be fed into your mind.
Now let’s look at negative inputs – TV, radio, internet etc. They are everywhere and sometimes it can seem like the world is a horrible place. The world may appear to you to be full of awful things – terrorism, murders, robberies, nasty people, greed and fear … but it only appears that way if that is what you focus on. There’s a whole other world out there if you have your eyes open to see it. Amazing things do happen all over the world every day … the media just deem all these stories as not news worthy as they have happened so many times before.
You have to be very careful what you choose to focus on, what you watch / read and talk about. The more you focus on negative things the worse you will feel and the more negative things you will find. Start expecting good things and looking for the good around you and will start to find it. If you watch the news you are watching the opposite of a highlights reel of the full world – you’re seeing all the bad things out there condensed into 30 minutes. That’s not a true reflection of the world! Watch the things that uplift you, listen to music that makes you feel happy and spend time doing things that make you smile.
You have the right to choose what you focus on. You have the right to choose what websites you visit, what TV shows you watch, what news you read. Pick the ones that make you feel good, not the ones that set you off worrying about a terrorist attack or the terrible state of the world that one particular news channel seems keen to share.
Make up your own mind, pick things that:
- Make you laugh
- Inspire you
- Interest you
- Bring a smile to your face
It really is that simple, stop focussing on the negative (because you’ll find it everywhere) and start focussing on the positive (you’ll find it everywhere too if you look for it … it’s all about your perception).
Now let’s look at self-talk. The way that you talk about yourself and the way that you talk to yourself … whether out loud or in your head. Both do the same damage. If you are constantly running yourself down, saying how bad you are at things or that you’re stupid you are programming your mind to believe that.
I have a work friend who consistently says things like “Aw well with my luck, I’ll never get that job” or “I’m so clumsy, I’m always dropping things”. If he honestly believes those things then of course he’s going to drop things or under-perform when it comes to the interview for a job.
Some people are nice to everyone else except themselves. They’ll bend over backwards to do things for other people but heaven forbid they accidently forget to do something they had planned to do, they’ll give themselves a terrible time or negative talk like “I’m such a stupid idiot”, “I’m so thick”, or “I forget everything!”. For people that do this, it’s not just a one off, they do this with every mistake they make. Please don’t be one of these people.
In sport or games, if they make a mistake they don’t cut themselves some slack or focus on doing better the next time. Oh no, they belittle themselves over and over, either out loud or in their head. Repeating how badly they played or how they are bad at that kind of shot or they never do well with that play. Whatever it is, it is not building confidence. It is destroying confidence and self-belief at every turn.
That again is 100% a choice. You can choose to be hard on yourself and destroy your own confidence … or you can pick out the good parts of your performance, pat yourself on the back for those and merely note the areas that you need to improve on. Celebrate the good and learn from the bad. Most importantly ALLOW yourself to make mistakes, it is the only way to learn.
Once you have minimised the negative inputs surrounding you, you will be in a position to replace these with positive inputs and start building habits of finding all the good in the world instead of all the bad. You are now free to learn techniques that will change how you see the world and instead of making you focus on things to complain about, these new techniques will build good habits of actually looking for all the good … every day, everywhere, in every situation.
THE POSITIVE INFLUENCES
You may not be aware of these, but there are lots of positive influences around as well as the negative ones. You just need to start choosing to look for positive influences rather going along with the normal, accepted negative influences.
Now that you’ve closed your mind to the scary news stories on TV, depressing news “highlights” replayed every hour on the radio, and all the other negative inputs that make you worry, you may find that you’re bored or don’t have as much to talk about. Don’t worry about that! As you start building your good inputs you’ll still have lots to talk about and will find interesting new things to keep yourself entertained, and more importantly you’ll be buzzing with confidence and excitement … so instead of dragging people down and passing on your worries you’ll start lifting people up with happy stories and drawing more happy upbeat people into your life.
When I was starting out the first thing I did was build a nice collection of motivational, inspiring quotes and saved them into a folder on my phone and computer to look at when I needed a lift. You may want to start with that. You’ll find lots if you search inspiring quotes on the internet and choose view by image.
The next thing I looked at was the depressing music I was listening to and replaced that with something fun and upbeat. Think along the lines of “Good Feeling”, “I Gotta Feeling” and “Hall of Fame”, anything where the message of the song is actually positive and motivating.
You can replace dark gloomy TV (news, depressing dramas, shows filled with murders / kidnapping etc) with things that leave a smile on your face (sitcoms, stand-up comedy, feel good movies). Anything that leaves you feeling better than when you started. Honestly, think about this, why would you want to watch something where you feel worse by the end than you did when you started? Choose better inputs.
This may same like a crazy idea, especially to you kids … but how about reading a book? Instead of depressing yourself looking at the fake lives people post of Facebook or other social media (you know, the life they want everyone to think they live but it’s miles from their actual real life experiences?!) for hours on end, why not find a style of book / magazine that you like reading. A good story that gets you thinking or a book suggesting more techniques ideas for building a better life (you’ll find these in the self-help section of the library!). It’s actually really relaxing and helps you chill if you sit quietly and read, you get lost in the story of the book. Learning new things from books is also an excellent confidence builder.
The last positive input I can’t recommend highly enough is watching positive / funny / inspirational videos on the internet. If you ever feel down search for inspirational video clips, there are some out there that will change your full mood in a matter of minutes. One guy I always recommend is watching Nick Vujicic, the most inspirational guy I’ve ever seen. Before you start moaning about your life or a bit of bad fortune go watch Nick, it’ll change your whole perception. If you don’t feel like something as deep as that just search the bloopers of your favourite TV show, or clips of your favourite comedian. Experiment a little as well, try watching new comedians that link off of your initial search. There’s a whole lot of smiles and laughs waiting for you at the click of a button, use it.
- Do things you enjoy, not what you feel obliged to do
- Watch things that make you smile or laugh, not things that make you worry or sad
- If you feel down at all look at positive things to inspire you (quotes / videos)
- Listen to good, uplifting music
- Find a positive role model and learn what they do
- Let loose, don’t take yourself so serious. You’ll realise the world won’t end if you do!
You may already be able to picture someone in your life that you would consider to be positive … or you may want to give it a little more thought. Think about the people you are with that are supportive of you. When you speak about a dream or a passion they get on board with you for the journey and ask you questions, they get you talking more about something that makes you smile. Compare that to someone who has no interest in you or your passion, they will quickly dismiss your enthusiasm and direct the conversation back to them … usually to complain about something, slag other people off or make fun of you for trying to follow a “stupid” idea.
Spend time with people where you are free to be yourself with without worrying about being judged. A bit of friendly banter is acceptable and expected between friends but when you become the regular subject for jibes that take away your feeling of belonging or acceptance then they are verging on bullying. You don’t want to spend time with people that see you more as the butt of their jokes than as a true friend that they value.
Instead of spending time with those you feel “obliged” to spend time with, spend time with those you enjoy spending time with. The ones where you look forward to seeing them and after seeing them you leave with a smile on your face.
You will also know people who spend most of their time complaining about things – the weather, their parents, their bad luck, all the things they don’t have. Do not get involved, in fact I’d go as far as say avoid these people at all cost. Complaining is contagious, if you spend time with these people you will become a complainer yourself and spend all your time finding negative things in the world to moan about. Don’t be that person. If the person is someone you care about (a friend, family member etc) then I’d advise you to point out to the person, as politely as possible, that they easily find things to moan about when there is so much to be thankful for.
Spend time with the grateful people of the world. The ones that appreciate what they have and don’t begrudge you nice things (get jealous when you get something nice). A true friend and positive person will be happy for you if you get something nice, they won’t hold it against you like a negative person would.
If there are people in your life of authority that put you down or talk continually negatively about you or to you, talk to them first to see if they are aware of the problem. If things don’t change then spend as little time with them as possible. Don’t worry if avoiding these negative influences all together is not possible, by building your own self-worth we will help you realise you don’t deserve this treatment and we will build your confidence so that you take a lesser notice of these people and their words / actions will have less of an impact on your mood / self-image / self-worth and confidence.
Most importantly spend time with people that treat you well, these will be the positive people of the world. The ones that make you laugh. The ones you can be yourself around and not feel awkward or judged. The ones that you actually enjoy talking to and can be open with. The ones that bring out the best in your and show your confident personality. The ones that encourage you in whatever you are doing. The ones that don’t try to change you, they just let you be yourself.
- Positive people are easy to find if you start looking for them
- Spend time with people that add to your life experience
- Spend time with people that don’t judge you for just being yourself
- Build your confidence and self-worth so you can handle negative people better
- Avoid complainers or you will quickly become one as well
- Spend time with people that make you laugh and smile
Positive self-talk is pretty simple – if you hear yourself talking badly about yourself stop, and replace it with a compliment. If you start thinking a negative thought, catch it and replace it with something positive. It will take time to break bad habits but once you do that your confidence and self-worth will gradually increase and you’ll make the confident, caring self-talk part of your daily routine.
If you face a difficult situation, instead of thinking “I can’t handle this” or “I’m terrible at this”, repeat over to yourself in your head of out loud “I can do this, I can do this!”. You might not be successful every time but you’ll give yourself a hugely bigger chance of doing it than if you dismiss yourself immediately.
Never put yourself down or make fun of yourself. Not in casual conversations with friends, in your head while thinking or anywhere else for that matter. Each time you do you’re taking away a chunk of your self-confidence. I’m not saying swagger about like a boss talking yourself up all the time, telling everyone how amazing you are and how you’re better than them … that’s called arrogance. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance! Confident people may have a certain presence about them, almost even a swagger but they’ll do most of the positive talk in their head so they don’t throw it in other people’s face and they never talk negatively about themselves. They use the techniques you’ll learn today to keep their self-worth high, their confidence steady, their self-image healthy and their self-belief unwavering!
- If you don’t talk nice about yourself how do you expect others to?
- Talking badly of yourself destroys confidence
- Talking positively about yourself every day builds confidence and self-worth
- Telling yourself over and over that you can achieve things will program your mind to believe it and you’ll start making more progress
- The back part of your mind believes whatever you tell it and show it (just like a computer), let it know that amazing things are possible and it’ll help you achieve them
TRAINING YOUR MIND TO BE POSITIVE
When you switch your inputs from Negative to Positive you should have already started feeling more positive and upbeat. You will feel yourself moving away from constant worrying and fear to being optimistic and hopeful.
Now we can add in some excellent “Good Finding” techniques to increase your awareness of the good you already have and get you expecting amazing things. These techniques will build your confidence, improve your self-image and really lift the regularity of your happiness moods.
FINDING THE GOOD
Creating habits of looking for the good around you instead of the negative is a lot easier than you would think. By doing adding some daily ten minute exercises to your day you will be able to set your mind up to hunt out the good things in your life.
The first thing you can do is practice Gratitude. You won’t move forward happily unless you can be grateful for what you already have. The easiest way to do this would be to write a simple Gratitude List every day, adding 5 new things you are grateful for each day. The first few days should be easy but as you go on you will need start looking harder … this triggers your brain to start looking for the positive things in your life. Once you have mastered the simple list, I would recommend moving on to split your Gratitude Lists into the different areas of your life. For example, write one on your job – writing down all the good points about your current position / place of work / boss etc. Write others on each close family member – what are the good points / personality traits / strengths you admire in your mother / son / brother etc. Do this for every area of your life that you feel is important – your car, your possessions, your partner, your parents, your home, your strengths! Start off by writing one on a different area each day, once you have a list on each area you can try to add 1 or 2 points to these lists each day until you feel you have a concise list that clearly shows just how lucky you are to have that job or that family member in your life. By the time you complete this task you should be feeling so much more thankful for what you have and be fully appreciative of what you already have. All you have to do after this is re-read these lists any time you feel your mood dipping and add to it when you find something new to be grateful for.
A similar exercise to the Gratitude List is writing a Daily Achievements list. Every day before bed write down as many good things about your day as you can find. This can include activities you enjoyed throughout your day (going to cinema, watching your favourite show), or tasks you completed (finished a report in work, submitted a new piece of work etc), or something else you consider a personal achievement or enjoyable experience from your day (talking to your friends, making your kids laugh, scoring a good goal, playing a great shot etc). The list can be as long or short as you like as long as you add at least 3 new things each day and keep doing it daily. Very much like the gratitude list, after a few days you will need to look harder to find new things to add to your list and as time passes your brain will soon be programmed to find the good things in your daily life. Hence you will have a grateful, positive attitude appreciating what you have and searching out the good things in this world.
Another thing you could try doing is writing a positive journal focussing mainly on the good situations and experiences of your daily life. This is a great exercise to do whenever you need to gather your thoughts or get your opinion on something clear. You can write negative experiences in your journal as well but do not dwell on them as you might end up giving then more power than the positive experiences in your life. One benefit of writing down any worries or concerns is that it makes it more real and lets you see it in black and white. Sometimes we over dramatize situations in our heads and when you say it out loud or write it down it all of a sudden it becomes real and shows how irrational our thoughts have been. Just don’t give too much attention to the bad experiences as it’ll drag you back down.
The Book of You technique is one that I have created myself and another one you could use as a way to develop a healthy self-image and improve your self-confidence. You write 3 chapters of your life to give you a big picture of who you are, what you have achieved and the amazing things you see yourself achieving in the future. Chapter 1 reviews all the strengths of your character and skill set. Write out in the form of a story or simply list down, everything you consider yourself to be good at – all your strong personality traits and strengths (confident, witty, honest etc). Exhaust this list by making it as long as you possibly can. Overlook nothing. It you have good manners, write it down. If you are good at remembering faces, write it down. It all counts. Chapter 2 is recounting all the amazing experiences and achievements of your life so far. Again a list is fine or the form of a story, as long as you like, is even better. Every goal you scored, every award you have received, every good deed you have done. Try to remember as much as you can and then write it all down. Chapter 3 is what your goals are for the future, what are you going to make happen? Write it down in precise detail and imagine how each and every future achievement will look and feel. If one day you want a certain house write it down in every little detail. Describe each room, every appliance you would want, every single detail. Doing this makes you able to imagine the scene more clearly and get on board with the feelings that will bring. Do this for the job you want, the relationships you want, the car you want, anything at all you want in the future. This may take a while so don’t put pressure on yourself to do it all in one day or one week. Start it off, one area at a time, and add to it as the days go by until you have the full picture of who you are, what you have achieved and what amazing things lie ahead for you.
- Gratitude List – Build an appreciation of what you already have by writing a daily gratitude list.
- Daily Achievements – Train your mind to focus on good experiences by listing all the things you achieve each day.
- Journal – Cleanse your thoughts by writing them down in a journal.
- Book of You – Build a positive image of your life by writing the Book of You celebrating who you are and what you have achieved so far
Try any of these techniques and see if they have an impact on your mood. Each one should get you looking for the good things in your life, help your appreciate what you have, see the good in the people that are around you and build your confidence.