Year in Review: Practical Tips on How You Can Have a Positive Outlook
by Lou-Ann Jordan Dec 26, 2022
As the year draws to a close, reflection is almost unavoidable.
For some, it’s become our practice to examine our lives, review whether we accomplished the goals discussed last December, and assess if we’ve changed in the ways we said we would.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, as humans, we crave progress; it’s a critical characteristic of our being. Yet, for some, progress this year might have been slow. You may have had to put off plans for yet another year.
It’s possible you have not been able to buy the home you intended, take the trip you planned, lose the weight you wanted or change jobs as you had hoped. Whatever your situation, it’s easy to feel disappointed, even hopeless, as you review 2022.
Such feelings are understandable, and you may be surprised to know, relatable. Likely, you are not alone. Still, if you’re reading this on your device, powered by Wi-Fi, and in the comfort of your home or at work, then those are enough reasons to feel encouraged.
There are several other things you can do to brighten your outlook. Read on as we share several practical tips.
Here are practical tips with applications to help you achieve a positive outlook:
Be grateful. We imagine you’ve heard this before, but it still needs to be said. Our minds seem to cling tenaciously to adverse situations and thoughts. In Psychology Today, Hara Estroff Marano referred to studies done by John Cacioppo, PhD, which proved our brains are sensitive to unpleasantness. We need gratitude reminders with such a propensity to be stimulated by negativity.
Stop and examine the facets of your life for which you can be thankful. An examination past the pain of a situation may reveal something for which you can be grateful.
Practical application: Begin by jotting down the things for which you feel grateful. Yes, we’re talking about a gratitude journal, but with a twist. For every five items noted, jot down someone to whom you can extend an act of kindness, stating the action you will perform.
Self-validate. Not only are our minds prone to linger on the negative, but generally, we are harsher with ourselves than we are with others. We can often focus on external relationships, building them up, and showing love and care. However, we may need that, and from ourselves.
Self-validation requires us to identify our thoughts and feelings and understand our minds. It doesn’t mean we are justified in all of our thoughts. However, the goal is to unearth the root of what we’re feeling or thinking and calmly work our way through them.
Practical application: Why not designate a day of the week as personal time? Make it a fun affair; begin with a fun name: Me Monday or Man in the Mirror Friday. Use it as a time to review your internal experiences and dialogue from the past week. Try observing, reflecting, and describing thoughts and feelings, but remember to keep it factual with no guesses or assumptions.
Big or small, acknowledge your wins. Many of us go from one battle to another, one challenge into another without taking the time to enjoy our accomplishments. Alternatively, we may regulate celebration; only “big” wins are reasons to be celebratory. But how are we defining big wins? Is our definition based on society’s estimation or the level of effort it took for us to be victorious?
Usually, when those around us accomplish something noteworthy, we’re eager to express our pleasure, admiration, and, if applicable, gratitude. Also, we know from experience that being on the receiving end of such affirmation boosts our spirits, if not our confidence. Then why not be our cheerleaders and celebrants?
Practical application: Whether you’ve closed a deal, maintained a weekly workout goal or spoken kindly to someone when they might not have deserved it, all are reasons to celebrate progress. You are privy to the battle, be it physical or psychological, that you underwent to come out victorious. Pausing to acknowledge and celebrate will help spur you to seek repeated “wins.”
Arrest your thoughts. What we’re suggesting has little to do with handcuffs but does involve some policing. At any given moment, stop and pay attention to your thoughts. Do a quick examination to see their trajectory. If it was along a path less desired, change the course. We warn; it’s not as easy as it sounds.
The fact is we act upon our emotions, and our thinking fuels our feelings. Usually, if we were to replay a quarrel, our part in the conflict may correlate with or stem from a pattern of thinking we’ve been nursing. Similarly, feelings of defeat may be rooted in unhappy thoughts.
However, American philosopher and psychologist William James tells us that “the greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
Practical application: Surround yourself with words that uplift, inspire and motivate. Quotes like the one above can help reroute your thinking. Keep them on index cards or Post-It Notes™ on your desk at work or in strategic places at home. Learn and recite them when having a brutal bout of pessimism.
As we look ahead and despite life’s uncertainty, let’s launch into 2023 optimistic and flexible because anything is possible. Step into the new year with excitement, hope, and purpose.
Sources: Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today and Thrive Global