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HOW TO GET A POSITIVE MINDSET FOR THE YEAR AHEAD

Posted on 06 February, 2020

Dry January has been and gone.

Some of us quit early. 

Some of us are relishing the fact alcohol is now acceptable.

Some of us are testing our stamina and abstaining on into February. 

Whatever the outcome, a new year - and its resolutions - always forces oneself to reassess their goals, efforts and aims in life. 

We make promises to ourselves, we make promises to others, we tell anyone that will listen, 'this IS going to be the year I do X, Y and Z.' 

To get you in the right headspace to conquer your goals and overcome your shortcomings, we've put together four sure-fire ways to help you smash 2020. 

DON'T START THE YEAR AT ZERO

When looking at the calendar ahead it's understandable to see only tasks you've yet to accomplish sandwiched by empty days. But it's important to make a list of successes that have got you to where you are today. By noting down and acknowledging the steps you've already taken, our brains lean toward a more positive mindset rather than becoming intimidated and overwhelmed.  

Think of it like completing a 10km run. We tend to speed up the closer we get to the finish line building on and becoming inspired by what we've already done. Start your year, and indeed your day, not by noting down all the things yet to do but ones you've already done.

Be sensible, however, though you may feel getting a gold star for the rabbit you drew when you five might have inspired you to go for that promotion last year, start with achievements in the recent past.  

MAKE YOUR BED EVERY MORNING

This may feel like a trivial routine that doesn't warrant a mention. However, you'd be wrong.

In 2014, former head of the United States Special Operations Command, Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, gave a commencement speech at the University of Texas. 

He said: 

'If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. 

'By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.'

What we can take from this advice is that making one's bed sets the tone for the rest of the day. It's also comforting to know that the bed is made for when you get home after a productive day.  

 

START EACH DAY WRITING A GRATITUDE JOURNAL 

It's normal to start the morning quickly geared up and stressed out about the day ahead. To preempt worry taking over and get us in the mood for progress, start each day with a gratitude journal. It doesn't have to begin 'Dear Diary, I am grateful for the Kellogg's Frosties I'm about to eat...' but can be a short list of the significant things you're grateful for. From being able to walk to the love given by your grandparents, gratitude focuses our attention on what we have, rather than what we have not.

And there is evidence to back up the benefits of appreciation. American psychologist, Robert A. Emmons and his colleagues claim that gratitude can overcome our natural settings of grumpy sod. Meaning we can actually overcome our genetics when we are grateful. 

Professor Emmons explains: 'When people regularly work on cultivating gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical, and social. In some cases, people have reported that gratitude led to transformative life changes.'

DIAL-UP THAT POSITIVITY 

If you can carry out your day 5 per cent as happy as this Buddhist monk, below, then you're winning. Unfortunately, for many of us to get anywhere near that level of positivity is a huge struggle.

But a beaming outlook does not come simply from ignoring the bad and burying your head in the sand. It means facing times of hardship by not expecting the worst and seeing opportunity rather than strife. 

And that all stems from controlling your brain's self talk.

Self talk is the little chimp in your mind constantly hi-jacking your thoughts. It natters away in the background 24/7. This little shit makes you overthink, makes you doubt yourself and puts you on edge. 

In his 2012 book, The Chimp Paradox, Professor Steve Peters talks of managing your inner chimp. 

'We have to accept that the chimp in us will not change. When a chimp does decide to act it’s difficult to control. "Self control" will not work because the emotional chimp is significantly stronger than the human (a real chimp has 5x the strength of a real human being).

'You have to learn to manage the chimp like an emotional child. You must never forget that you always have a choice in how to behave. If the human inside chooses to ignore the chimp’s ‘offer’ on how to react, then the human needs to negotiate, manage and support its frustrated chimp. You need to find a way of addressing the chimp's fundamental needs in a healthy way.'

Look at this guy below. Can you imagine how calm his inner chimp is.