Last week was tough. Work was bumpy, the Hoos made history as the first #1 seed to lose in the first round of March Madness (ouch!) and I have no food in my fridge. Ok, that last one is completely solvable, but waking up over the weekend and eating ramen didn't end the week on a high note.
And yet, I would still put down last week as a good one. It was good because even though work had it's ups and downs, I learned how to have tough conversations with friends, Tony Bennett gave everyone the best life advice after that tough loss (to watch his interview, click here) and no food in the fridge meant I had a blank slate for Sunday night's dinner menu - I'll be making beef and broccoli and will probably pick up Ho Hos for dessert (no judgement.)
So I had varying levels of "hardship," but to get through it I used the following 3 tips to make light of everything.
This is probably the most important one. They say too much of a good thing can be harmful or excessive. Too much TV and not enough time in the real world. Too much time on your phone and not enough time with friends. Or maybe too much time with friends and not enough time for yourself. Or my personal kryptonite, too many sweets and not enough veggies!
Having balance in your life is important because it gives you perspective. Focusing on only one thing can be detrimental when change inevitably comes about. You can overreact or be easily frustrated. Or the opposite, you get comfortable and miss out on opportunities. You end up resenting yourself for not thinking outside the box. Carrying your sunshine hinges on the idea that you have balance in your life to get through the good and the bad because you have multiple sources to draw energy and happiness from, whether that's people, places, experiences or facets of yourself. You need to strive for balance when things around you are unbalanced.
This is the simplest way to live more positively because smiling actually chemically alters the parts in your brain that make you happy. There's a study that says the simple act of smiling decreases stress hormones, like cortisol, and increases mood-enhancing hormones, like dopamine. Yes, smiling is basically an all-natural, not-at-all-dangerous (well, unless you have braces) drug to make you happy. And on top of that, while you're feeling good on the inside, others perceive you as more attractive on the outside. While I couldn't find any specific studies on the correlation of smiling and getting asked out or winning free stuff, I'll bet you'll find yourself offered more opportunities when you flash a smile than if you frown.
So try it! Next time you're having a bad day or even a so-so day, make eye contact, stand tall and flash your pearly whites to a stranger. See if it raises your mood. If anything, you'll probably get a smile back. And if you want to learn more about the power of a smile, to check out Ron Gutman's Ted Talk, click here.
3. Let It Go
Does anyone else immediately start singing the song from Frozen when someone says this to you? "Let it gooooo!" So much easier said than done. And actually, while I do think it's important to forgive and not sweat the small stuff, we're all human and things get to us. And that's ok. It's what we do in the moment and immediately after that. They way I stay positive, even through truly awful moments, is to think about the alternative "could it be worse?" or "did I learn something?" While I sometimes have trouble doing this, asking these questions of myself and looking for the silver lining vs dwelling on the negative helps me carry my sunshine forward.
So what helps you get through the good and the bad? These are just a few ways I live positively, but I want to hear from you! There's "no one size fits all" way to go through life, so share how you carry your sunshine in the comments below.