“I just don’t want to get out of bed today, I have so much to do and so little time! Plus, it’s not like anyone actually reads TPS reports anyway”.
If this tired refrain has plagued you in the morning hours and prevented you from greeting your morning with enthusiasm, you need to reframe your thinking. Does this mean you always, absolutely, and forever have to be positive in all aspects of your life? Nope! The reframing of negative thoughts is only the first step to finding joy and happiness in a life you otherwise thought kinda sucked. Every wellness article says it takes two weeks of constant practice to really anchor a habit into everyday life. If you start today, only thirteen days remain before you unconsciously look forward to the morning and the possibilities of a new day.
So, what are these steps anyway? You think to yourself. Let me show you five ways of reframing and let’s practice them together.
1st: Always look for the good in people.
If you’ve ever complained about your neighbor’s dog’s terrible behavior that’s focusing on the negative aspects around you. So, your neighbor’s dog got into your yard and pooped, and they forgot to clean it up. How do you reframe that? Begin by thinking about the incident from the dog’s point of view. This will feel silly, but imagine you’re stuck inside all day with no way entertaining yourself. Suddenly, the portal to the outside full of smells and sights and sounds open and you found a brand-new place you’ve never explored! Is your first thought “oh no I can’t go there”? No, because you’re a dog. You want to sniff or pee on or roll in everything around you. Imagine that kind of unbridled joy in your own life and what it would feel like to simply have a moment without future worries or past cares. How happy would that make you if you’ve been stuck inside all day? While you can ask your neighbor to clean up the mess or clean it up yourself, remember that the dog and the neighbor weren’t out to make your life worse. The dog simply was experiencing life as it comes, an important lesson for people stuck in a negative loop mentally.
2nd: Look for the helpers when disaster strikes.
There’s a quote by Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood that I like to reference when I feel overwhelmed by the bad news circling today or by bad events in my life:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
This is amazing advice for anyone stuck in a negative loop in their thoughts. When you find yourself thinking “Why is everyone so angry, why does the future look so dismal” – look for the helpers. Start reading more positive literature about current events, find the people who are doing good. When everything looks negative, it means you’re not looking for the right thing in the right place. Reframe your overwhelming thoughts to see the good rather than the bad.
3rd: Keep a daily journal of positive events, compliments, and observations.
There’s a phenomenon that occurs when you begin being mindful of your thoughts – you are better able to realize when you’re negative. The next step is practicing gratitude and reflecting on the positive aspects of your life. Do this in a journal! There are several options for positive journals out there, but if the thought of filling something out every day is overwhelming you just start with something blank. Every day, write down three things you were happy about, thankful for, grateful for, appreciated, or made your day better. It may feel like another chore has been added to your never-ending list – but much like in the opening paragraph, this habit is less arduous the longer you practice it. When you reframe your negative thoughts and actively remember your positives in life, the cobwebs of insecurity and judgement are cleaned from the corners of your mind.
4th: Always be present, always look ahead.
If you’re anything like me, you tend to focus on the mistakes you’ve made in the past or the most recent way you mucked something up. This is entirely the wrong way to let your thoughts wander. Instead, think about what you learned from that mistake plaguing you at 3am. Think about how you could have done something differently to salvage or make improvement and put it into action. You’re stuck on a problem you can’t solve at work and don’t know what the next step to solve it? Ask a coworker for their opinion and why they think that. You were late to an early meeting in the morning and missed something critical? Ask for the information from a coworker and set an alarm to go to bed earlier. Focusing on the next step in a plan – gathering information, creating the next step yourself, and writing it down – helps keep your head in the here and now rather than the mistake that lead you there. Practice gratitude that you’re able to learn from your mistakes and have the opportunity to fix them. And be kind to yourself along the way!
You are the only one who determines your inner thoughts and how you act on them. Practice gratitude and kindness and focus on the positivity within yourself and these thoughts will bring a sunnier outlook on life. You have within you the ability to change, put in the work and the rewards reap themselves.
Katherine Reynolds is the Business Solutions Coordinator for Bardwrite N.A. and the Social Media Coordinator for Docforce. She has a passion for helping people and organization and enjoys working closely with others. If she isn’t in the office or at home reading and playing with her dogs, she’s out in the boonies hiking.