Five things

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We all get into slumps when we're down on ourselves. These periods of negativity are a regular part of the ebb and flow of positive energy. Does that mean we have to sit there and deal with it when the roller coaster of life starts to descend, and then drop into oblivion? You can guess I'm going to say no. It's so important to stay positive, even in the face of the worst hardships. Problems can come from the outside (situational problems), or can manifest internally.

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External issues are things like family hardships, friend drama, stress at work, problems with your significant other, performance at school, money woes, etc.

Internal problems can be more difficult to pinpoint, because the source isn't staring you in the face, much like a credit card bill that makes your blood pressure drop. Low self esteem is a good example, which is a large umbrella for physical self consciousness, social self consciousness, feelings of low self worth, feelings of constant failure, and so on.

Then of course, a disparaging situational factor can start to bleed into the internal realm, and visa versa. Both can be a slippery slope into darkness where the world seems like it's against you. In turn, you'll start to perceive things negatively, which only makes bad things seem worse and good things seem less apparent or non-existent.

No matter what the source of the stress is, it's all stress, which is obviously mentally unhealthy. But, it's also important to recognize that stress can have a serious effect on you physically (think lower life span). Dwelling on the negative aspects in your life won't get you anywhere.

How do you start to turn that around? It's easy for someone to tell you to "Just be happy, things could be worse." But does that really help? Of course not. It might actually make you feel even worse because a statement like that makes your problems seem trivial.

A realistic solution: write down 5 positive things a day, at the end of every day. These five things should be related to what's getting you down. For example, if you're having a hard time at school, write down five things that you did well at school that day. If you're really down on yourself for fudging your diet, write down five good diet choices you made that day.

This isn't going to be easy at first, but it's all part of the process. You might not be able to jot down five things in a minute… it might end up taking you a couple of hours overall. It's important to get to five things (or more!) each day, so be persistent.

Over time, you'll start to notice that these five affirmations flow quickly from your head to the pen and paper. Why? Because in getting your brain to conjure up the positive on a regular basis is like exercise for the brain - you're getting it in shape to think positively.

Be warned: you may also start to think positively throughout the entire day! Once this "journaling" or "affirmation" habit is in place, your mind may start to work overtime in the rainbows and butterflies realm so that you'll remember your five positives quicker at the end of the day.

Affirmations are great, but sometimes they can be too broad. Think: "I'm a good friend. I'm awesome at writing reports."

Try to write daily affirmations that are specific to your day. By focusing on small accomplishments and proud moments, you can dig into the detail and learn to appreciate the small happy moments in life.

Go out and buy a small notebook or journal. Get a stack of blank copy paper. Or a handful of cocktail napkins. Or, try to include your five things in your daily journaling habit. Just get going!

Do you believe in the power of positive thinking? What have you done to turn a bad day (or a bad year or two) upside down? Do you think this five things exercise will work for you?

Cover photo by Jess Watters