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13 Ways to Build a More Positive Life

Staying Present Amidst the Chaos

I’ve always been an optimist, but it’s not always easy to stay positive and sometimes I find myself getting stuck… clinging to immediate pleasures or getting stuck in these negative habits which are hard to break. Life just gets hard sometimes, and sometimes for no particular reason. Although adjustments seem to have become a common part of my life recently, I’ve come to realize they are a difficult thing for me and actually I have more trouble getting used to routine. Sometimes I have trouble staying present and need to remind myself how to appreciate the little things.

People really emphasize physical health, but your mental attitude and mental health is ultimately so important and controls everything else in your life. No matter how difficult your situation or what you might be going through, you always have the option to change your attitude. If you can change the way you look at things, you might be surprised at just how much things change. I know that I constantly am. One moment, I am worrying over this one little detail in my life and the next, I can see that detail in such a completely different way and it doesn’t matter at all or has just vanished completely. I’ve come to realize just how powerful the mind is in every aspect of our lives—and how it can actually impact our physical health in many ways. In turn, I’ve learned how to improve my mental attitude and find my inner peace. So here are some things I like to do when I find myself feeling a bit lost.

1. Build a positive morning routine.

For me, that includes some combination of stretching/yoga, meditating, writing, and eating a healthy breakfast. Of course, if you are working you probably have limited time in the morning, but I think it is good to try and fit in some time to get yourself feeling positive and ready for the day. Whatever works for you, I think it is always good to have some time for yourself and to get yourself mentally energized and prepared for the day ahead.

2. Utilize meditation & mindfulness in daily life.

So many people have said it, but when I actually listened and disciplined myself to include meditation into my routine my life actually changed. I don’t say that lightly, and maybe it affects everyone differently, but for me, this is the one thing that actually made a difference. This is how I realized just how much power the mind has on our health and daily life. I’ve lost a little bit of this routine lately, but I always find my way back to it and I make sure to carry the mentality with me. That mentality is so simple—mindfulness. Just be mindful, be aware, be in the moment in every moment and every aspect of your life—just be present. It’s so important to take a break and just be with yourself and your mind without the stresses of daily life. To meditate is to just be aware of the simple fact that you are alive – and it’s important to come back to that simple realization in our busy lives. There are so many forms of meditation you can do—there’s plenty of amazing books, Youtube videos, and apps to get you started if you want! Most importantly, it’s important to be mindful in your daily routine—don’t do things to get them over with. Whether it’s cooking food, or folding laundry, it’s always a good opportunity to practice mindfulness.

3. Exercise.

To go along with meditation which works for your mental health, getting in some exercise in your day is (of course) the important aspect of your physical health. For me, I love to run with my headphones in while listening to my workout playlist. This is something that really motivates me and energizes me for the day. I also like to go for walks when I’m stressed or just need a break from being where I am. There’s plenty of simple ways to get in exercise for the day, it’s just about getting the motivation to get started. It always makes me feel better in general once I am able to be out and about and generally moving around throughout the day.

4. Take time for yourself.

This one’s important. Especially for me, being an introvert, I NEED my alone time and I thrive on it. I love being with people, but I also need that time to myself to just do my thing—reading, drawing, listening to music, writing, even just binge watching a good show. It’s important for me to have that time for myself to just do my own thing. So, don’t feel guilty to say no to someone if you need that time for yourself.

5. Spend time with the ones you love.

Just as it’s important to make time for yourself, it’s, of course, important to spend time with those you love and those that make you smile. It’s always good to have a nice chat or recount old memories or inside jokes with a good family member or friend. It’s nice to be reminded of those little joys in life—simple laughs at dumb stuff with your friend. It’s always good to have those positive people in your life and good people that can encourage you.

6. Read & Learn.

It always makes me feel better to spend some time reading. This is another way I practice mindfulness. I read for the simple pleasure of reading and really thinking about the words. This is another way that I have found is good to slow down and feel awareness. And reading—whatever it may be—a scary novel, a self-help book, news articles, blogs, a how-to book—t’s always a good thing to be learning something new and enriching your mind in new ways.

7. Spend time doing your passions/hobbies.

I love photography and art, so for me, it’s nice to sometimes just go out even just around the neighborhood and take some nature photography or to take some time, put on music and just paint or draw. These are the sorts of things that inspire me and make me feel like myself.

8. Try new things & get out of your comfort zone.

Though it’s good to have a good routine, it’s also important to go out and try new and different things. For me, this is a big one. It’s hard for me when I get into too much of a routine—I need a little bit of change, and I like to shake things up a bit. After coming back from living abroad, I got used to the constant change and newness—so it was a little bit of an adjustment coming back to a slower lifestyle. So, I try to think of new things to do—volunteer, get a membership at a yoga studio, go on weekend trips to nearby cities and discovering places. Even if it’s something small, like cooking a different meal, it feels good to try something new every day.

9. Eat healthy foods.

Of course, this is another important one for physical health—making sure to eat the right kinds of foods and foods that energize you. For me, I used to always start out my day with a bowl of sugary cereal—now I usually eat oatmeal maybe with some fruits (a little more healthy). I don’t always eat perfectly, but in general, I like to try and eat healthy options food wise. It’s good to treat yourself a little sometimes, but eating the right foods and eating smart will benefit you both physically and mentally.

10. Go outdoors.

Nature is my home. For me, if the sun is out and it is a warm day I feel instantly better walking outside. It has a natural healing power for me—going outside and enjoying the good weather, walking in the woods, hiking in the jungle, listening to the birds chirp, anytime I am surrounded by nature, it is instantly therapeutic for me.

11. Take a break from technology.

It’s so hard in this day in age to pull ourselves away from our phones, our computers, our iPads, our televisions. We’ve become so attached to these forms of technology partly because they serve so many functions. Our phone is not just a phone, it’s a calendar, an alarm, a watch, a calculator, a flashlight, a camera, a music player, a game, and a computer all in one. So, we are constantly finding a million ways to distract ourselves from just living and being there. Despite all of this, it’s always a good idea to let go of it once in a while—leave it at home one time when you go to school or work. The world will not end, and maybe you will find yourself more present or focused in your day. Instead of playing a game, read a book or draw or knit a sweater or go for a bike ride or do something else that you enjoy.

12. Don’t settle.

I don’t want to settle for anything less. Maybe that’s why it takes me so long to figure things out. Maybe that’s why I’m constantly trying something new or going to the next place and doing something different. But if you want to be your happiest and live your best life, don’t settle for something less than what you really want or deserve. No matter what you do, keep fighting for the things that you truly want out of life. Figure out what it is that you want out of life—whatever that may be. It might not be easy or what others think you should do, but it is what you need to do for yourself. It might seem things take longer or come less easy for you, but the right things will always come at the right time for you. Keep trying and do whatever you need to, to get there.

13. Slow down. Focus on today.

It’s important to remember this when you are feeling overwhelmed by life and all of the things that you need to or want to accomplish. Especially when things start piling up, remember to take it one day at a time. You can’t do everything. And don’t let anyone pressure you—or other people around you pressure you—take your own time to do what you need to do. Make lists—maybe make some simple goals for yourself for each day and allow yourself to breathe. Allow yourself to take a break when you need it, and do things little by little. Don’t overwork yourself because it will only make things worse. So once again, practice mindfulness in these daily tasks. You’ll get where you need to.

Some days, life seems like more of a struggle, and it seems impossible to get to the place where you want to be in life. Sometimes it’s hard to find peace when you’re surrounded by stress or negativity. Sometimes things fall apart. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense and there’s no explanation.

Learn to accept the good and the bad. Learn to live through the struggles in order to grow stronger than you ever knew you could be. True peace is found when you accept all of the difficult aspects of life along with the easy happy ones and learning to find happiness within all of the chaos.

So, just keep breathing. Keep moving forward. Keep growing and learning. Keep fighting. Keep living.

Read next: The Society Box
Lauren Himes
Lauren Himes

I love creating new experiences and exploring new cultures. I've lived abroad in Costa Rica and Thailand and have traveled to multiple countries in Southeast Asia. Capturing and documenting life's adventures...

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13 Ways to Build a More Positive Life
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