I actually had a whole different blog post written out for today, but after seeing so many people struggling lately, online, I felt a post on positivity and keeping your chin up would be more appropriate.
This might be a long one, and it’s a bit more chatty and a little less actionable than usual, but hopefully it’ll strike a chord with a few of you right now.
I don’t know whether it’s because the nights are darker and S.A.D. is setting in, or whether we are coming to the end of a busier period for a lot of us, or because the pressure of Christmas is looming, but so many people seem to be a little down on themselves and finding things tougher than usual, lately.
When you run your own business, there are going to be good times and bad times. It’s inevitable.
There’ll be days when you feel like you could take over the world and there’ll be days when you wonder why you’re even bothering and you feel like all you can manage is doughnuts for breakfast and a day in your PJs.
We all get like that sometimes.
However, as a general rule, I’m pretty good at keeping myself upbeat and positive. Some people have pointed it out in my vlogs and asked if I’m genuinely always that happy. And the answer, truthfully, is that yes, I really am.
To the point where I know it actually annoys some people. But I do not give a hoot! I’ve consciously worked hard to get to this point and it’s such a fulfilling way to live. I also seem to have adopted the role of family counsellor, too and whenever anyone is down or needing a pick me up, they find themselves on my sofa or on the end of my phone.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t come easily and I’ve done a lot of work on myself, to get me to that place where ‘positive’ is my natural setting.
I’m going to give part of the credit to the book ‘The Secret’. I first read it when I was sixteen and it changed my life.
It’s all about positive thinking, manifestation and the law of attraction. Now, whether you believe in the idea that you can attract £1,000,000 just by thinking about it hard enough, is kind of irrelevant. What I got from The Secret wasn’t how to instantly manifest large sums of money, it was to practice a positive mindset.
Just before we continue, I need to make it very clear that I am not saying that depression, anxiety and other such struggles do not exist.
I do understand that sometimes people get caught in the grip of mental health burdens and it consumes them. And I know that it isn’t just a case of snapping yourself out of it.
But I do now also know that, for the most part, we are a lot more capable of controlling our emotions and our mood than we may have ever realised or given ourselves credit for.
So, here’s how I like to try and stay positive…
Recognise that we have a choice as to how we react to things. There are a lot of situations that happen to us throughout our lives, that might be outside of our control. Loss of a loved one, the behaviour of others that influences our lives, current affairs, etc. But what we absolutely can control is our reaction and attitude to those things.
It sounds foreign at first, because we are so used to just reacting in whatever way is natural to us, because that’s just who we are and assuming that we can’t control our emotions and reactions. But we can!
Stress is self-manufactured. Stress is a choice. I now choose to no-longer allow stress in my life. Of course, there are times, when my computer isn’t working and I’m trying to get something done for a deadline, or when I’m lost in the country lanes trying to get to a shoot, or when I just have a hundred things to do and nobody to help me, when stress creeps up on me and I have a mini-meltdown. I’m only human.
But with the knowledge I’ve gained reading The Secret and other books of a similar nature, I now have the tools to be able to recognise this and check myself before it boils over or before things fly out of perspective. And the same goes for that bad mood, that self-pity, that down-in-the-dumps feeling that seem to be plaguing so many people right now.
You can choose how you react to any given situation, no matter how bad or out of your control it might be. And that’s a valuable realisation.
When they say ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ they aren’t kidding.
Every negative situation has a positive within it. Sometimes you have to search really, really hard, and you feel a little like you’re clutching at straws. But practicing (and it does take some practice) seeing the positive in every situation is such a powerful exercise. And if you practice enough, eventually it really does become a habit.
You will very, very rarely hear anything negative come out of my mouth, these days. And that’s because it just feels so unnatural and poisonous to me, now.
And that leads me nicely onto my next point. Negative, attracts negative. And vice-versa, positive attracts positive. This might be a bit fluffy for some of you, but I absolutely believe this to be true. And it’s stood me in pretty good stead, so far.
Those people that forever seem to have bad luck and find themselves in a less-than-perfect situation, you can bet they’re always moaning about it, too. I just can’t stand to be around people who are constantly negative, these days. It drains the energy from me.
And then there are the people that just seem so unbelievably lucky. They win every competition they enter, they’re always finding money lying around, success comes easily and good-fortune just seems to be attracted to them. It’s not a coincidence.
You will never, ever hear me say the words ‘I have no money’ and that is not because I’m rolling in it. I will never say the words ‘I’m so unlucky’ and don’t even get me started on that hideous ‘FML’ saying! So toxic, I just can’t bear it.
Believe you are lucky, believe you are fortunate, believe you are successful, worthy, talented, valuable and you will be those things. Whether it’s the ‘fake it till you make it’ mantra, whether it puts you into a good frame of mind so that you go out there and make things happen, or whether it’s the law of attraction, it doesn’t really matter. Not only does being positive and banning negative ideas from your life make you feel a million times better, it definitely attracts more of the same.
Be grateful. Every single morning, over a cup of tea, when I first sit down at my desk, I write down a list of the things I’m grateful for. I was speaking to another photographer about this the other day and she said ‘But surely you just write the same things down every day?’. Yep, most days, my grateful list is exactly as it was the day/week/month before.
But when you start your day listing all of the wonderful things you have in your life, it’s impossible to start the day in a bad mood. And if I get to write ‘I am grateful for my health’ every day for a month/a year/five years, then how lucky am I?!
Also, going back to the ‘like attracts like’ premise, if you’re constantly acknowledging all the things you are grateful for in your life, you’re likely to just attract more things to be grateful for!
Set goals. The other thing I write down every morning is my goals. Again, these are often the same, with small tweaks here and there when I’ve achieved a goal, or when I have something new to add. But it helps me focus for the day and it allows me to work out what I need to do for that day, to get me closer to those goals. Anything that doesn’t align with my goals, doesn’t go on my to-do list. (They say that the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire is that the millionaire only writes his goals down once a day!)
Break things down. If you have struggles that you’re facing right now, or things that are getting you down, you need to take some emotion out of it, get super practical and put those struggles into boxes. Work out what you can deal with and what you can’t. Some problems have an obvious solution, some problems are a little harder to deal with and may take time, and some problems are just unsolvable.
For the things that are yours to solve and that can be solved, you need to make an actionable plan. Break them down into smaller steps to make them more managable and then work through those steps one by one.
Remind yourself that worrying and stressing won’t help. It’ll actually make things worse. Again, this is something that really takes some practice. At first you’ll be thinking ‘What was she talking about? This is a terrible situation and I can’t help but stress over it.’ But I promise you, you can help it. Stress comes from within you and although it feels like a natural impulse right now, it’s actually a choice and you can control it. You just need to be aware of it.
Get excited about the small things. One thing I really try hard to do these days, is to get excited about everything that is good about my life, from big, fancy holidays, to £3 candles from Aldi.
There is so much joy to be found in life, whether it’s in days out, the company you keep, your favourite meal, book, movie… We need to be enthusiasts in our own lives, so much more. If we aren’t finding little pockets of joy in every single day, then what is our life about, really?
I love going to brunch on a Sunday, walking my dog, coming home and lighting my candles in the evening, having a cup of tea when it’s cold or eating dinner outside when it’s hot. I’ve made a big effort to fill my home with things I love and make it a place I want to spend time in. I obviously love my job and I’m even slightly altering that so that I love it even more. I spend as much time as possible with my favourite people and I try to make sure we make as many memories as possible.
Something as simple as making some sandwiches and going for a picnic or going to the cinema, are some of my favourite things to do. We shouldn’t always be counting down the days until the big events, like the expensive holidays or big nights out, wishing our lives away. Joy and excitement can be found in the smallest of things and we must make sure that a) we are able to get enthusiastic about the simple things in our lives and b) we fill up on those things!
I hope this post has been the pick-me-up some of you needed right now.
I don’t want to sound at all patronising, but I feel like I’m in a really good place with this right now. And that is absolutely not because my life is perfect. Every one has their own issues and problems that aren’t suitable for sharing on social media, (me 100% included) so please don’t think that I’m saying all this because I have it easy. Remember that nobody’s life is as perfect as their Instagram feed.
I’ve just worked super hard on intentionally creating a positive mindset for myself. I want to be able to see the positive in every situation, I want ‘happy’ to be my default setting when I wake up in the morning and I want to love my life to the fullest degree!
So I’ve worked hard on achieving that. And I feel like I’m definitely getting there. And I hope that this blog post will help some of you get there too.
I can tell you that it’s a much less stressful, more enjoyable way to live your life, not to mention, the opportunities and success it attracts. But the law of attraction is another subject, for another time, perhaps.
For now, keep your chin up and be kind to others. We all have our own struggles to bear and we all need a helping hand sometimes.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments if this post has helped in any way, or if you have any other advice to give.