Habit is a very powerful thing. You can probably name at least a few things you do that may have required some thought and effort at first but are now second nature to you.
What if you could make positivity a habit – something you just naturally experience, irrespective of your circumstances?
Believe it or not, it's possible with regular use of a few positivity exercises. In this article, let's explore four such exercises.
#1 – Write Down Things You're Grateful For Every Day
You'll often hear positivity experts mention this strategy, and there's a good reason for that – it works!
Research shows that mental health patients who keep a gratitude journal fare significantly better than those who simply receive counselling. (1)
Think about that for a second! Counselling is a major resource that has helped and continues to help a multitude of people. In this study, researchers found keeping a gratitude journal helped mental health patients even more than counselling did!
This was true at the four week post-treatment mark as well as the 12 week post-treatment mark.
Keeping a gratitude journal is simple. You can even make your journal a 'notes' file on your phone. When you wake up each morning, make note of at least three things you're grateful for. There are no rules – this can include anything you're grateful for; even the seemingly silly things like a good meal you've got planned for later in the day. After all, the little things in life do have a major impact on your mood.
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#2 – Keep Active
Research has consistently shown that the link between staying active and staying happy is very strong. It happens quickly too; in as little as five minutes after exercise, most people will notice a mood-enhancing effect. (2)
It doesn't even have to be strenuous weight-lifting or anything like that; a jog (even on the treadmill during winter) will do just fine.
Exercising has powerful effects in the long-term too, with research suggesting it's a great hedge against long-term depression.
In one study, researchers concluded that exercise is – as the American Psychological Association puts it – "generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder."
#3 – Take Care Of Your Body
Taking care of your body will increase your capacity for positivity in two ways.
For one, there is the simple fact that giving your body the nutrients it needs will make you function at your peak. There are many biological mechanisms responsible for this, a major one being your gut.
Scientists have known for years that bacteria in your gut has a direct impact on your mental health. (3)
An improper balance will leave you feeling anxious and mentally frazzled, while a good balance in your gut will have the opposite effect.
A great way to keep your gut healthy is to use probiotics. Yogurt isn't the only option; if you're vegan or looking for something different, consider some of the following options:
Secondly, taking care of your body – including in ways other than eating probiotics, such as getting your diet right altogether – has the subconscious effect of informing yourself that you really care. By taking care of your body, you ascribe value to it, which wouldn't be the case if you treated your body like a sewage facility.
Aside from eating, make sure you shower regularly, moisturize your skin and keep yourself groomed. These habits will all speak volumes regarding the value you place on yourself.
#4 – Dedicate Some Energy Towards Helping Others
Research shows that when you help others – which can include engaging in random acts of kindness, donating to charity or volunteering – without the expectation of anything in return, it does wonders for your mental health.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, doing good for others improves your mental outlook in a number of ways. (4)
It creates a sense of community, connecting you to those you help – and, in many cases, to those you are doing the helping with. Feeling like you belong somewhere is key to reducing one of the worst mental roadblocks of all time – isolation.
Volunteering your time also helps you put things into perspective. If you volunteer at a homeless shelter, for example, it may help you look at your own situation and feel gratitude for some of the simple pleasures life affords those who are not homeless.
If you donate to a charity that updates you regarding the impact of your donation, you may find that it puts the value and power of money into perspective for you.
Lastly, as selfish as it may sound, doing good for others makes you feel good about yourself. There's nothing wrong with that!
The David Wolfe Shop knows the importance of helping others.
That's why a portion of proceeds from the shop goes towards The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, which David Wolfe founded.
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation is dedicated to planting a total of 18 billion fruit trees around the world. That's about 3 trees for every person a live.
The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation plants these trees under organic standards, helping impoverished communities create a sustainable source of nutrition.
A portion of all profits from The David Wolfe Shop goes towards funding the foundation's many programs dedicated to this aim, including horticulture therapy for medical patients, preservation of natural resources and, of course, providing communities a sustainable food source.