The biggest thing that travel taught me is this: nothing is ever as I expect it to be.
The grass is always greener. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. Everything is perfect until I’m in it. These sayings probably ring a bell with all of us. I’m so good at putting things in the distance on pedestals and then once I reach it, whatever it is, the rose tinted glasses fall off and I’m horrified to discover that it isn’t perfect.
I’m very good at focusing on the negatives. I’ve learned that it takes discipline to make positivity a habit as natural as breathing. I think two of the biggest keys to staying positive for me, are having no expectations and remembering that I always have a choice.
There are also a few other things I do that help me live in the moment:
Gratitude lists. I started writing gratitude lists last year when I was working too hard, eating too much, not exercising and living beyond my means. I was very unhappy and sometimes writing the gratitude list would take ages and there would be hardly anything on it! But I persevered. I try to write one at least once a week and I put absolutely anything on it that I feel grateful for – even if it’s just a cup of tea!
Exercise. Exercise is so important to me. Recently, I’ve been getting up for a three mile run at 6am a couple of times a week. It’s having a huge impact on how I feel and my energy levels throughout the day. The feeling of achievement I get at the end of each run sets me up with a very positive, can do attitude that doesn’t falter.
Tell me about it. Talking. I need to talk. If I have a problem I talk to as many trusted friends about it as possible, that way I get different perspectives on it and the negativity seems to become more diluted with each conversation. Just getting things off my chest helps me to stop worrying.
Reflect. Earlier today I applied for a job. After hitting send I felt the inevitable creep of self-doubt and within seconds my counter-productive thought processes that lead me to believe I’ll never achieve anything were in full swing. But then I looked at my online portfolio and thought of all the things I’ve done in the past year that mean I actually have some impressive experience to draw on when applying for these jobs.
I know it’s important to live in the present moment, but sometimes looking back can be a good thing. Reminiscing over positive things from the past helps me realign my priorities in the present, and also gives me hope for the future.
Just be. Whilst I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience since getting back from Melbourne, I’ve also really burnt myself out and got myself into a bad habit of pinning my self-worth on what I perceive as success. It’s very important to be okay with not being okay, or being just okay – you don’t have to be brilliant all the time.
What sort of things do you do that help you feel positive?