5 Tips to Cultivate Positive Emotions and Strengthen Your Resilience

choices hunt the good stuff positive growth resilience

Do You Greet A New Day With A Smile Or A Grunt?

Since I moved in with my twin sister Lucy after my divorce, we have developed our morning routine of grunting at each other while pouring our coffee. We are both coffee drinkers and unable to speak until we've had a few sips of coffee. Once the caffeine enters our bloodstream, our brain engages our tongue and lips and we are able to hold a simple conversation. More caffeine, more conversation.

We talk about being more cheery in the morning but struggle to make it happen. Okay, to be honest, we're lazy. It's easier to grunt, drink a cup of coffee and then talk. Bad habits are hard to break.


Choosing To Change A Negative Habit

There are three words that have a big impact to any situation. These three words can change attitudes and actions. Make sure to write this down on a post-it note and display it all around your house, in your car, and at work.

Ready? I have choices.

Yes, you do have choices and they can change your life for the better or for the worse. In fact, everybody has choices. They can choose to do something or they can choose to do nothing. It's their choice.

In my situation, I can choose to wake up with a positive attitude or wake up with a negative attitude. I can choose to greet the day with excitement and anticipation of good things to happen or I can choose to greet the day with hopelessness and anticipation of bad things to happen. It's completely my choice.

A bad outlook on life breeds frustration and helplessness. A good outlook on life breeds gratitude and opportunities. 


A Positive Outlook Strengthens Resilience

One of my friends has a wall plaque that says "When life hands you lemons, make a gin and tonic." In other words, when faced with challenges get creative in turning it around.

When I found out that I was going to have to get a heart transplant during COVID, I knew from my breast cancer journey that it was important to stay positive. Fortunately, the hospital team who performed my pre-surgery tests were friendly and positive. They laughed with me when I said I felt like I was getting the royal treatment and then proceeded to wave at my subjects like a queen. They were impressed that I had that royal wave down. 

After my surgery, I was required to get weekly heart biopsies to make sure my body did not reject my new heart. Some of the same hospital workers admitted they got excited to see my name on their roster because I was so nice and funny to be around. They'd say to each other "Oh, good! We're going to see Queen Laura this morning." I knew I was in good hands during those procedures.


5 Tips to Nurture Positive Emotions

 1. Maintain a hopeful outlook. Choosing a positive outlook makes it easier to find good in difficult situations. It's easy to see the negative because our primal brain is wired for a fight, flight or freeze responses. Change the narrative by saying "Yes, but I choose to..." and focus on at least one positive thing.

Example: Yes, I'm starting over after my divorce but I choose to focus on getting back into favorite hobbies I had to put aside for so many years like playing the piano, going on day trips, and volunteering in the community. 


2. Accept change as a part of life. In changing times, the saying "But we've always done it that way." can bring ruin to a business or an individual. Learn to be flexible. Being resilient means being able to bend but not break.  

Example: Think of accepting change like rerouting your commute to work when traffic is stopped because of an accident. You can find multiple ways to reach your goal. You can be just as flexible when facing other challenges.


3. Take baby steps toward your goals. Instead of giving up on unachievable goals, make small achievable goals to build confidence and consistency.

Example: I'm excited to get back to playing the piano again. I was an intermediate piano player in high school and still have a lot of my piano music 40 years later. Instead of pulling out my intermediate piano books, I bought a few easy piano books of my favorite artists to ease back into playing again. I'm encouraged that I can still read music and remember the notes on the piano but my timing is very rusty. I picked out six easy songs that I'm going to practice to get my timing back and then move on to more songs. I forgot how much I enjoy playing the piano again!


4. Take decisive action. Instead of avoiding a problem, decide on one thing you can do to move forward. It's easy to say you'll deal with difficulties tomorrow but will you? Read my blog Feel the fear and do it anyway. 

Example: You're miserable with your job but the idea of looking for another job is too overwhelming. Make one decision at a time. Decide to list all of your options. You don't need to get too detailed. For instance, stay where you are, look for a job in the same field, start a side business, or look for a job in a different field. Tomorrow, you can list the pros and cons for each option.


5. Take care of yourself. Come up with a self-care plan to minimize stress. Studies show that a lot of stress can cause health problems and impair decision making.

It's important to eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, and move (I don't like the word "exercise".). Journaling is another way to get thoughts and feelings out to process. Talk to a counselor if you don't wish to share with family or friends.


Question: What will you do to cultivate a positive outlook and strengthen resilience?


Daily Mantra: Hunt the good stuff, find the humor, keep positive, and focus on your blessings. God can bring good out of every situation!

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