You know the old saying…
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Easier said than done!
My friend Karl is giving a presentation on the power of positive thinking. He is sharing stories of every day people he knows who have stayed positive throughout their lives regardless of the struggles they may have had as well as sharing each person’s “5 Positive Thinking Lifestyle Tips”.
He asked me for my tips and advice and so I thought I would share them with you as well.
Making lemonade requires you to accept the fact that the lemons exist and for you to do some work.
1. Stop looking in the mirror.
When you are in pain, life is hard and there seems to be a lemon grove in your backyard it is hard to stay positive when all you do is look at your circumstances. I have struggled with body image my whole life and the seasons in my life when I struggle the hardest have been when I stand in the mirror and point out all my flaws, pinch things and assess how much jiggle there is.
Helping others who need something you have is an amazing way to gain perspective and fill yourself back up. We spend way too much time obsessing about what we don’t have and not using what we do have. It is time to think less about yourself and help someone else. If you have time to bemoan, complain and wallow you have time to dig a garden, ladle up lunch at a soup kitchen, take someone out for coffee or rake your elderly neighbour’s yard. When you give, you see what you have and suddenly your flaws and jiggle isn’t quite as bad as you thought it was.
2. Discipline yourself to dream.
Without a dream or hope, your start to die a little bit more every single day. When life is hard the last thing you want to do is dream and create BHAGs, but for me it has been critical for staying the course and making lemonade with my life lemons. In fact, it has helped me to even get rid of some of the lemons!
How to be a disciplined dreamer:
- First, write down where you are in one area of your life. Work, health, relationships, finances, spirituality, etc. Put it all out there – what is actually true?
- Second, put your paper and pen down, shut your eyes, listen to the wind in the trees and let your heart dream about those ‘if only…’ and ‘what if…’ statements for a few minutes while your lungs fill up with air. Then write down your preferred future without caveats.
- Now look at the gap between reality and your dream. What are you going to put in the gap?
- Finally create action steps and things to do which move you in the right direction. Do them until you reach your dream.
3. Brain dump.
There is power in writing out, spewing out and getting rid of the words, fear and pain that circulate in your brain and heart. I am a writer, so I brain dump by opening up a blank word document and start typing. For 30 minutes straight I type everything that comes to my mind and heart and don’t stop. My spelling is atrocious, grammar is nowhere to be seen and foul words crop up now and again. Then it is dated and saved. Getting it ‘out’ is important because it creates space for me to put other things in, things like goals, dreams, reading great books and even restful sleep. You can use a journal or a voice recorder, the important thing is for you to stop holding onto the pain but giving it a voice and then letting go.
Once you’re done, write out what you want and what has changed. Stand up and leave the pain on the computer or in your journal – you don’t have to carry it with you any longer.
- What is possible now?
4. Sweat, sleep and sing.
You can only give what you have. In a broad, general, sweeping declaration I will dare to say that we suck at taking care of ourselves.
- Get to the gym and don’t wonder if you feel like it. You don’t. Do it anyways. Endorphins change everything!
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day and work on one thing from your dream list each morning before you do anything else. Build towards what you want, not what is.
- Sing happy songs in the car at the top of your lungs. Roll the windows up or down, turn the music up and sing with your voice until your heart joins in. And when the laughter comes, embrace it.
5. Find your people.
We aren’t meant to do life alone. Even me, the extreme introvert, needs a lot of people in my life. When you’re in pain it is easy to be alone with it because it seems safer, but in actuality it is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Darkness creates space for icky things to grow. Shed light on your pain and get perspective on what is true and how to move forward by sharing your life with people. Know you can’t share everything with everyone, but talk through your situations with trusted friends and family – give them permission to ask about how you’re doing and help you move forward.
Receive their love and remember that your time to give out love and acceptance is coming, so get ready by receiving.
6. Change your station <– Bonus strategy!
You are constantly talking to yourself, telling yourself a story. It may be time to change the ‘radio station‘ your brain is set on. Whatever you’re looking for is what you will find. Start looking for gold in yourself and others and then talk about it. Say what is both good and true and plant seeds which will grow into a tree which bears awesome fruit, not a brambly bush that will trip you up and slice up your leg as you fall over.
Speak and think on good things, even if it is the hardest and most awkward thing you have ever done.
- Write out 10 things that are awesome and true about yourself. Read them out loud to yourself every morning while you drink your coffee.
- When something goes wrong, state out loud something that is going right.
- Congratulate yourself rather than shame yourself and stop ‘falling in the toilet at 3 am’!
- Don’t hang out with negative people. Cut them out of your life and find new, positive friends.
- Accept compliments and enjoy them, don’t push them away be ok with being fabulous.
There you have it – a few of the ways I have learned to create positive change and move in the directions I want to in life, despite the lemons. I am still growing and struggle with negativity but it is getting to be less and less. Life is shaped and moulded by what you say, do and believe.
Life doesn’t have to happen to you, it can happen in you.