How to always look on the bright side of life: 10 steps to finding the positive in any situation
“Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the ……..BEST!
And…always look on the bright side of life…(whistle along…)
Always look on the light side of life…” (by Eric Idle)
This is one of my favourite songs, EVER. I love the film The Life of Brian by the British Monty Python team and this song ALWAYS makes me smile; in fact, I can’t hear it without a broad smile crossing my face, even in the worst situations. That, and Bring Me Sunshine by Morecombe and Wise’s and Take On Me by Aha. OK so those last two might be just special to me, but there’s something so wonderful about music, that stirs the soul and lifts our mood that it is worth reminding ourself of just how powerful some things can be. I bet you’re singing this song silently in your head now – it’s catchy and the words really do have a powerful meaning – if you let them.
But there’s the rub – ‘if you let them’. So many of us go through life looking primarily at all the negative things in our life that we miss many of the wonderful, positive and affirming things that are around us all the time. In law of attraction terms, that’s only going to bring us more of what we’re focused on – the unwanted negative things.
So how do you always look on the bright side of life to attract more of what you want? Here are 10 quick and easy tips to help you.
1. Stay away from negative things and negative people
This is a key one for me and fundamental in terms of the law of attraction which states that ‘where focus goes, energy flows’. If you are constantly around negative people, you will be attracting negative energy, which will drain you faster than water flowing out of a bath. We all know the kind of people I mean – the ones where nothing ever goes right for them and they are not happy unless there is something to moan about. What they are failing to see is that bad things happen to everyone at some point. What is important is not what happens, but how we deal with what happens. That is what determines our outcomes, not the events themselves. You cannot help people who are locked in a spiral of negative thinking by being dragged down by their ‘stuff’. So if you need to put some distance between you and the negative thoughts of another, do it! That often means turning off the news, putting down the newspaper and reminding yourself of a good story you recently heard instead. It doesn’t mean ignoring a friend in need or turning a blind eye. But you will be much better at helping your friend or finding a solution to a problem if you are in a good and positive place yourself, rather than if you are both draining the energy from the other like a psychic vampire!
2. Find the positive in every situation
Yes, there is one – always! And if you can’t see it, it is usually because you are not looking at the bigger picture enough: like a fly who keeps flying into the glass because they can’t draw far enough back to notice there is a window open at the top! If your car breaks down, it may be warning you of a more serious problem that needs your attention and could potentially save your life. If you break you leg or are manifesting illness, ask yourself what is it you are trying to avoid and whether having the time to rest and reflect on your life could actually take you in a brand new direction. Trust that there is a greater plan which you are creating from within and which you know will take you to your destinationin the end. Have faith: sometimes a diversion in the road is necessary to avoid falling in the river!
3. Meditate – take a deep breath
Oh yes, yes, yes. This is one of my favourites too. Just stop, breathe in slowly for 8 counts and breathe out slowly for 8 counts. Now repeat that until you have done it 10 times. Doesn’t that feel better? Breathing deeply and increasing our oxygen intake can reduce stress and tension, improve your immune system and detoxify your body. It is the most natural remedy in the world and we can all do it better by becoming more focused and aware of the breath running through us. Learning to clear you mind through meditation and breathing is one of the greatest things you can do to adjust your mood and improve your emotional and physical health. There are many forms of breathing techniques such as yoga, Tai chi and Qigong which can also benefit your mood if you study them.
4. Be grateful for the things you have – count your blessings
How many times have you said ‘thank you’ today for the things you already have? Have you put your attention on all the wonderful things around you, or have you focused more on the lack of things you have? Have you got this in perspective? The fact that you are reading this on a computer or mobile device means that you will at least have access to a certain degree of wealth that is more than most people in the world have. You have access to electricity, but did you know that in a recent report, nearly 25 percent of the population of all developing countries had no electricity – meaning over 1.3 billion people were living in the dark. 1 in every 9 people on the planet do not have access to clean water close to home. How do your problems compare now? There is a great Ralph McTell song called The Streets of London which says:
“How can you tell me you’re lonely, and say for you that the sun don’t shine.
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London,
l’ll show you something to make you change your mind.”
So look around you today and be grateful for the things you already have – that is an assured way to get more of the things you love. Focusing on lack brings more lack. Say ‘thank you’ for your blessings and watch more of them flow into your life.
5. Use your emotional intelligence to understand what is really happening in a situation – separate the facts from your emotions
We all occasionally let our emotions get the better of us. Indeed, I would argue that listening to your emotions is vital as we need to be aware of how we are feeling and why, in order to change things. However, letting your emotions rule your life is not advisable since we often make poorer choices and take questionable actions when we are in the grip of low frequency emotions such as hate, anger, fear or jealousy. Being able to disassociate yourself from the situation by stepping back and looking at it in a more objective manner is key and having emotional intelligence is essential. That is not the same as saying you should never feel angry (or other such emotions). I get angry sometimes, we all do, but I try to recognise that I am allowing myself to get angry, take a deep breath and step back from the situation and my negative emotions. I often ask myself “if I were a fly on the wall here instead of being emotionally involved, what would my perspective be then?” When I do that, I inevitably realise that the person who cut me up in the car in front, is really just like me, late for work and stressed by it. Then I can choose to let my anger go and separate out my emotions from the facts. And when I do that, I usually find that the car ahead turns off anyway and I’m back to where I started.
6. Do something physical
There is plenty of data supporting the fact that doing some kind of physical exercise helps your body physically. But there is also a lot of evidence saying that exercise can help you mentally as well. It can relieve mild to moderate depression by releasing natural endorphins and other neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, which can lift your mood. Exercise also relieves stress and can reduce tension in the body which can give you more energy, improved sleep and a better ability to face life’s challenges. It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do but regular amounts of exercise can help you look on the bright side of life due to these effects. You can start with 5 minutes a day or 10-15 minutes every 2-3 days. Everything you do will help with your mental as well as your physical health. And it’s very difficult to feel miserable when jumping around your living room to your favourite song, so get up and move it! Another way to help is through tapping. I’ve recently written a post about tapping (also known as the emotional freedom technique), and this can have amazing effects on your emotional and physical health by releasing blocks in the energy systems of the body. It’s an easy and free way to life your mood so that you can appreciate the positive in any situation. Read more about tapping here.
7. Play some of your favourite music
This is a really simple and effective technique for lifting your mood – think back to the start of this post. The reason that music works so well is that it can be an ‘anchor’ for a feeling or positive emotion. If you feel a strong emotion when you hear, see, touch or smell something, a connection is made in the brain between the ‘thing’ you heard, saw, touched or tasted and the mood or state you were in. When you later experience that thing again, your brain automatically puts you back in the original emotional state. So if you felt very happy when you first heard a particular song and it reminds you of a happy time in your life, when you hear it again, your body puts you back into a happy state. Anchoring is an NLP technique that you can use to lift your mood anytime. I will write a post on anchoring soon as it deserves more than just a few words here. However, for the purposes of this list, think about putting on your favourite music or looking at a favourite picture can help put you back in a positive emotional state.
8. Write a list, sleep on it, then read it back
Writing things down can help to organise your thoughts. Giving yourself a few hours away and then reading things back will allow you some distance between your initial reactions to an event, and a more objective viewpoint. If you are struggling to find a bright side to a certain situation, get a piece of paper and write two headings: positive and negative. Under the negative side, write down your feelings about the situation in negative terms. You may be able to do this freely since it is the state you are in at that particular moment. Then on the opposite side, think of any positive things that you can and write these down too. Ask yourself ‘what opportunities do I now have that I didn’t see before?’ You may be surprised at the answers. For example, breaking your arm might seem like a bad thing at the time, but if you ask yourself what opportunities you now have, you could come up with some positive things like: more time to rest and relax, more time to investigate a career change you always wanted, an opportunity to redress the balance of chores in your family – for example, if you have been the only one doing all the chores, then breaking your arm could help you rebalance the workload. Making a list like this can really help you to see things in a different light. Giving yourself some time before you read back your initial thoughts also helps to distance you from the initial emotions and you may find that the ‘negative’ list might seem like an over-reaction when you read it back.
9. Laugh and laugh again
Laughing releases endorphins in the brain which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Laughing can reduce stress and increase your immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies which can help your resistance to disease. Sometimes the only thing to do in a negative situation is to see the funny side of it. Step back from the stress and laugh. I quite often use this with my children when something they do goes wrong and they realise immediately their mistake. Instead of shouting, I try to laugh which diffuses their emotions and stress and they end up laughing too. One day when they were 7 and 9, they asked if they could try out some face paints upstairs. I said yes, and everything went quiet. About 20 minutes later both girls came bouncing into the room, completely naked but painted from head to toe in different patterns and colours – and I mean from head to toe! They were both so pleased with themselves that I couldn’t find it in my heart to be angry. Instead, we laughed – I praised them for their ingenious creativity and artistic patterns, and we laughed and laughed some more. And cleaning off the hand and foot prints from the walls and banisters in the house was really not that difficult!
10. Reframe the situation
This is a key NLP technique to help you see the positives. It basically means looking at the situation differently and putting a different ‘frame’ around the situation. Often you see things negatively because you have put a particular ‘frame’ around the situation and you cannot see outside it. For example, if you have set your heart on marrying your partner and they end your relationship, you may find yourself being unable to see anything outside of the frame you created about being married to that person. You may not be able to recall that you argued a lot and that you didn’t really share the same beliefs and values. Reframing the situation will allow you to put a different frame around it – if you ask yourself what frame your friend might put on the situation, or your mum, you might then see the truth about how many times you argued instead. In turn, that could lead you to seeing in the situation differntly and you may be relieved that you had a lucky escape from being married to a person with whom you often disagreed. I’ve listed some other common reframes below too but in reality, these will be as individual as you are:
- Lost your job – try to see this as an opportunity to start your own business or as a way to change your career when perhaps you were scared to even think about it before
- Divorced or dumped – again this could be an opportunity to get out of a dysfunctional relationship or address things that were not working in the relationship but you were ignoring for some reason or another
- Failing – if you can reframe ‘failure’ as just achieving a different outcome from the one you initially wanted, you will go a long way in finding the bright side of life. It’s about seeing the progress you have made rather than focusing on the one thing you haven’t: Imagine you are shooting an arrow at a target. You hit 8 instead of 10 and think you have failed. Reframing this means reminding yourself that you actually shot the arrow in the first place, hit the target and got 80% of the total. Achieving the next 20% is now only a simple step of adjusting the aim rather than throwing everything away and starting again.
- No money – there will always be people with more and less than you. There will be people who are taller, shorter, fatter, thinner! Constantly focusing on the lack of things in your life, be it money, love, health or anything else, will only bring you more of the same because the law of attraction will match your feelings with more of the same. So to reframe this situation, start by appreciating what you do have – there will be lots to celebrate. And if you need some inspiration, remember that there are many people in history who have come back from the brink financially. In his early career, Walt Disney couldn’t pay his bills and his first company went bankrupt after they were cheated by a distributor. But that didn’t stop him and in 1928 he launched the first animated film with sound effects entitled Steamboat Willie, introducing the world to Mickey Mouse – the rest is history. And if that’s not enough – how about Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford and H. J. Heinz (of the 57 varieties fame). All of them went bankrupt before finding financial success. What seemed like the end to them was really just the beginning.
- Dark night of the soul – this could be seen as the lowest point in someones life. And in spirituality terms, it is a difficult, but usually necessary, event for the person to experience in order to learn something about themselves. Sometimes the reframing is to accept that there is nothing to do but to let go. Esther Hicks metaphorically says that if you jump out of the plane without a parachute, then sometimes the only thing to do is to realise that it will all be over soon. Many people actually need to hit rock bottom in order to realise their own potential and bounce back. One of the greatest narrative structures in films, novels and books involves the ‘hero’s journey’ where the hero always faces their ‘dark night of the soul’, the lowest moment of their life, just before they discover their true power and go on to overcome their nemesis. So if you are facing a dark night of the soul in your own life, dig deep within yourself and find your resilience. Believe in yourself and you will find the strength to continue. I don’t believe that the universe brings you anything you cannot overcome, but you may have to ask yourself some uncomfortable questions and do some soul searching first.
I hope that these tips will help you to see the brighter side of life. This in turn will help you manifest more of the things you want in your life because you will be experiencing the feelings of joy and happiness more often.
And for all those who are still needed to brighten up your life check out my post about feeling better now and play the video below: