Let's start with thoughts....
You can't control the first thought to pop into your head, but you can control where your brain navigates to next. There are studies that say of the 65,000 thoughts the average person has per day, 85-90% are negative. The brain is naturally risk averse, so if it can tell you you're going to fail or you should be scared, it can prevent you from possibly trying something dangerous.
This caution comes in handy when you're five years old and wondering what happens when you stick a fork in the electrical socket. It's not so great when we want to get on that long flight or try out for that team, and our brain keeps telling us we should be afraid. The important thing is recognizing that our brains do this, but that we don't need to be ruled by it. This is step number one towards blocking out negativtiy.
Before I started meditating, I would roll my eyes and gag at the suggestion. But as my anxiety in life grew stronger (and I lived in LA where the practice is quite common), I desperately searched for something to help me calm my nerves. Meditation is a practice. It helps with breath work, bringing more oxygen to your brain and making you feel more awake and alert, which in turn helps to regulate stress in our mind and body. During tense situations, that breath work can help you ease your body into a more relaxed state. Your practice with cultivating relaxed and focused thought will teach you to flip the negative messages your brain will naturally want to send into something positive.
Exercise and A Good Nights Sleep
Whenever life gets stressful or busy, one of the first times we cut down on is exercise and sleep. We all know it's counter-productive, but we all do it anyway. Instead, make sleep a priority. Being well-rested helps us keep a clear head and profoundly affects our mood. You know your hippocampus? That pretty important part of your brain located in your medial temporal lobe responsible for things like inhibition, memory, and spatial reasoning? Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on all of these functions, and you're going to want these brain functions especially as you age. Oh, and did we mention that getting enough rest produces endorphins? Yeah, that uplifting euphoric feeling is pretty nice...
Choose your friends wisely. You end up like the 5 people you spend the most amount of time with, so carefully consider who those people are. If you're surrounded by lots of negative people, achieving positivity is going to be a an uphill battle. See here about getting out negative people. A friend of my always says, "we rise by lifting others" so surround yourself in those who lift you up, and remember to reciprocate 😜
Place your thoughts towards the finish line.
I find that I'm happiest when I have my head down and am pursuing what I want. I block out all superfluous opinions or activities and spend my time on things that make me happy or bring about my goals. Right now, I am working on my own clothing line, and am reaping the rewards of knowing every stitch, every sketch, and every day brings me closer to what I'm trying to manifest in my life.
It's important to know that life is about moving forward one step at a time. If you feel stuck or uninspired, try blocking out the things that don't fulfill you in order to work on a passion project. Sometimes happiness means individuality and moving forward, even if not in the direction of your 9-5.
Try this: After every meal, write down three simple things for which you're grateful. Here are mine from today.
1. Grateful for when my down comes and snuggles in bed.
2. Grateful for my cup of tea first thing in the morning.
3. Grateful for my friend who checked in on me when I didn't feel great last week.
It is a very basic exercise, but it forces you to change your thoughts and notice the tiny things that make we all so easily take for granted.
Fake it till you make it!
That's it. Pretty simple. You've heard it before. It's scientifically proven to work. Eventually, you'll actually start to believe you're the optimistic person your brain is forcing your mouth to be.