From a very young age, it was instilled into every part of my life that everything happens for a reason. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Everything that God, or the Universe, or whatever you may believe in, throws your way, teaches you something about life. People come into your life for a reason, and sometimes they stay, but sometimes they don’t. Opportunities come our way and we watch them go by, sometimes not reacting fast enough to catch them. We lose things we thought were ours to keep forever. Sometimes, well, most of the time, it can be hard to understand why things happen the way they do. In most cases, chances are we’ll never know. Or maybe that day will come when we sit down towards the end of our lives and if we’re lucky enough, we’ll say ‘Oh, wow, now I understand.’ Maybe all the doubt, pain, confusion and all the heartache and the long nights spent studying till your eyes are sore are leading us towards the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. At least that’s what I chose to believe.
My friends used to tell me that I was borderline annoying with how optimistic I could be. In the worst situations, when tears had been shed, when it looked hopeless and when nobody wanted to hear or believe it, there I was sprinkling my pixie dust of positivity and preaching magic and fairy tales. When I’ve been at my lowest moments, my folks have always said the same thing. Not that fairy tales come true or that unicorns are real, but that there is magic in the simplest things in life that we take for granted. That there is magic in our ability to see in colour the beautiful things around us, to be able to hear the hypnotizing sound of a violin, that there is magic in being kind and being able to make someone smile, in the laugh of a child learning how to walk, and in the love that comes with being part of a family. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a silver lining to every dark cloud and that despite how frustrating the wait is, that the best is yet to come. In the meantime, it’s up to us to be proactive so that we make every day the best that it can be, so that we make the journey with the hope and confidence that beautiful things await us from the moment we open our eyes every morning.
I know it can be hard, but I thought I’d share with you some of the things I tell myself, or do, to try and make my days as positive as possible and maintain an openhearted and open-minded sense of optimism.
- Tell yourself 5 things you’re grateful for every morning. I am a firm believer in talking to oneself. It doesn’t make you crazy, in fact, I think the only way you’ll ever be able to sort the millions of thoughts going on in your head is if you say them out loud and discuss them with yourself. So every morning, while you’re brushing your teeth or making your tea/coffee/turmeric latte, list 5 things that you’re grateful for. Recite them to yourself and you’ll realise that your day has so much potential to be productive, given that you’ve started it with a grateful and positive thought. It could be something as small as being grateful for the one teaspoon of sugar you have left because you forgot to buy a new packet, or something as big as being grateful for having a roof over your head to keep you from the cold. You could be grateful for plans you made that day, or just the plan you made not to make plans at all. Don’t think about how things could be better, because there’ll always be a way that things could be better. But if you start your day with positivity over what you do have, you’ll automatically be optimistic for what you are yet to achieve.
- Drink lots of water and eat your veggies. This is going to sound repetitive and oh so very unoriginal and I can already see the eyerolls that some of you are making. But hear me out! If you cannot admit that there is a clear difference in your state of mind when you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet, compared to when all you eat is greasy and oily foods… then you’re not doing something right. Just have a fruit, a banana or an orange and get all those nutrients inside you. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring and trust me, feeling less bloated and actually being aware of the nutrients you’re feeding your body helps you keep focused on all the good things that you want to happen in your life. It helps to lift your mood and have a different outlook on your day. That being said, I am also, somewhat hypocritically aware of the benefits of indulging in something that you’re definitely going to regret eating the next morning. Sometimes the only way to get your positivity back is to have a whole bag of chips and a greasy pizza and tell yourself you’re fabulous and that everything is going to be just fine.
- Find time for the things that make you happy. Yes life is busy and yes there aren’t enough hours in the days. But finding time for the things that keep you inspired and happy is the only way that your days will be worthwhile and the only way you’ll have a positive attitude towards the future. If you know that you’ve set aside 10, 15 or 20 minutes in a day to sit down and do something you enjoy, then in an often hectic life, you have a moment of peace to look forward to. If that means 30 minutes in the gym, 20 minutes writing in your journal, baking, sewing, crafting, doing a puzzle, dancing alone in your room to your favorite music. Whatever it is, make time for it every day and keep to your commitment to yourself, knowing that every little moment of happiness you create for yourself, is working towards becoming the happiest you that you can be.
- Get closure. On a bigger scale, being optimistic over sometimes life altering events can be a tough cookie to swallow. Friends fall out of your life for reasons you’ll never understand and breakups happen in the middle of what you thought was something that was working out. It’s hard. I’ve been there. Every experience that we go through is a stepping stone that brings us some type of change, sometimes changes that we see immediately, and some that we’ll only see years down the line. Just because something doesn’t last or something doesn’t go your way, doesn’t mean that any of the parties involved wanted things to happen the way they did. It doesn’t mean anyone cares any less. People make mistakes. I have had my fair share of fallouts with friends for example. And I have never, ever held them responsible or ever held any resentment towards them for what happened. I know that things happen in life, people change and it doesn’t help anyone to harbour hate and negativity. Maybe they hurt you, and boy do I know that it hurts, and maybe you know that you had your part to play in what happened and at the time your mind is a haze of ‘why did it happen?’ and ‘what did I do wrong?’ and maybe even ‘how do I fix it?’ Sometimes you can fix it, but sometimes you can’t. And that’s noone’s fault. Both sides had their part to play and both surely said some harsh words in the midst of it all, but you need to remind yourself that it’s okay for one chapter to close, because there’ll always be something to take away from it, and it’s not the end of the book. Be optimistic that if things are meant to work out, they will in time, and if not then there’s a reason why it won’t. I’ve had people come back into my life that I would never have anticipated would pop back in but they did, and a new chapter has begun. In the meantime, the best way to be able to be sure that you can move on confidently, knowing that it will get better, is to get closure. If not with the person or people, then with yourself. If you can at some point get some closure with them in person then that’s a wonderful feeling of relief. But if they’re still angry or sad and you can’t make them understand, then it’s okay. Write a letter, or a poem, or a story, or a cryptic blog post (lol) and spill your heart out. Tell them everything you want them to know, all the explanations for why you did what you did, and how in a perfect world, things would have ended so differently. And then, put it away, hide it, burn it, rip it into shreds and throw it in the sea. Once you’ve said everything you have to say, a burden will be lifted off your shoulders and the next morning when you wake up, the pain will probably still be there, but when you see the sunlight reflecting on the beautiful green leaves on the tree outside your window, you’ll know that somehow and someday soon, you’ll be happy and whole again.
- Never give up. There are over 7 billion people on this planet that we call home. It’s so easy to feel alone, and like no one else could possibly understand what you’re going through. But somewhere on the other side of the world, or maybe even closer than you think, someone is feeling exactly what you’re feeling. Whether it’s stressing about getting a first in your degree, or feeling sad because it’s February and you’re still single. Whether it’s because you still haven’t seen any progress in the gym, or that an event you were looking forward to got cancelled. Whether it’s because you’re on a break with the love of your life or your friends aren’t being supportive. You are not alone. Look out your window, and send your heart out to that one other person who you know it out there feeling what you’re feeling right now. Send yourself across the skies and reach out to them, and console yourself with the fact that you may be feeling lonely and desolate right at this moment, but that you are never alone. Never give up on the hope that everything gets better, and never give up on yourself. You are stronger than you think. For what it’s worth, I believe in you.
You are the only one in control of your happiness, so get up right now, grab some Oreos, go do something to remind yourself of just how beautiful life can be, and let’s see what life has to offer us next.