My outlook on life didn’t used to be through rose colored glasses. I was cynical and pessimistic and suffered from quite a bit of anxiety. I didn’t even smile that much. To be frank, I was getting by and surviving without much happiness. Fortunately, a few years ago, I discovered a happiness formula that revealed nearly half of our happiness is directly related to intentional activities we have control over. I learned that I wasn’t destined to be a negative person. I just had to learn how to be happy. There are many ways to enhance emotional well-being, including increasing positive emotions, accomplishing goals, engaging in meaningful activities, and connecting through relationships. This has important implications for emotional health as it allows us to find emotional balance and not be overwhelmed with negativity. Negative emotions can be consuming, so it’s important to consider ways to increase positive emotions so negativity doesn’t pervade our lives. This helped me realize that just as we have triggers that lead to emotions such as anxiety, anger, and fear, we must also have triggers for positive emotions as well. We can uncover what leads us to experience greater positivity and seek this out in our day to day life. I began to ask myself, “What are positive triggers in my life that can improve my emotions?” “What voluntary activities can lead to a positive shift, and what people, places, and situations tend to prompt positive emotions?”
How do I trigger positive?
After exploring these questions I started fully engaging in my passions and setting meaningful goals that included my strengths and what provided me pleasure. I begin meditating more and practicing mindfulness to stay in the present moment. I allowed my passion for music to blossom and recorded my own album. I made use of my love for learning by starting to read and write as much as I could. I started to appreciate the beauty around me and go for walks in nature. I try to spend a good amount of time with friends and family, and am also achieving my goal of helping others find inspiration, empowerment, and happiness through coaching and teaching. All of these things have offered a much greater dose of natural positive emotion than I ever had before. I just had to incorporate them in my life and be open to the positive feelings that followed.
When exploring your triggers break them down into two types.
External triggers – These are anything that happens in the environment. This can come from emotional events and life circumstances, or what someone says or does to you. Internal triggers – These are what we tell ourselves about the external triggers. It’s our internal dialogue and thinking process making interpretations about the external trigger. As Hans Selye says, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
How to trigger positive
Organizing our current responsibilities and obligations so they include the people, places, and things that help us to be positive, along with changing our perspective to focus on the good things we have and the better things to come is how we can trigger positive. Here are a few ways to do this.
A major source for positive emotions is to spend time doing things we enjoy and engaging in pleasurable activities. Make a list of activities that are fulfilling, inspiring, relaxing, or meaningful. Schedule pleasurable activities into your routine, and work to be more conscious of the small things that give you great pleasure.
Write a gratitude list
Do you focus on what you have or what you lack? A great happiness pathway is to cultivate gratitude. Spend time focusing on what you appreciate and are thankful for. Make a list of things you’re grateful for or write a letter showing your appreciation to someone who you have never fully thanked.
How we view our future and what we expect to happen has a major impact on motivation and our willingness to obtain what we want from life. Begin to notice your internal triggers when a set-back occurs or things don’t go as you planned. To develop a more optimistic outlook stop taking mistakes so personally. Realize it’s just one thing that can be worked through and improved, and don’t assume everything is ruined because one thing didn’t go well.
Kindness toward others
A great way to enhance positivity is to practice random acts of kindness. Do something to help others without any expectations in return. Offer to help your neighbor with their yard work, unexpectedly help around your house with chores, show affection by buying a gift for someone, or offer to help carry someone’s groceries to their car. The options for showing kindness are limitless. Just make sure to push yourself beyond what you would typically do.
When we can overcome fear and anxiety our possibilities for life expand. Facing your fears and overcoming your worries offers a feeling of pride that we have accomplished something. Think of times in the past when you overcome a challenge or when you conquered your anxieties about stepping outside of your comfort zone. Engage in personal growth and expand what you are willing to try.
In difficult times, one of the best ways to overcome negativity is to find meaning and purpose within our struggles. This may be from spirituality, from people we love and care about, or from striving to offer our experience to better others. Focus on what you can learn and the value you gain from every situation. A great way to work through grief and suffering is to find the meaning and purpose this offers for our life.
Passions and interest
Explore your interests and purposely engage in those areas that offer curiosity and inspiration. We all have things that energize us and fill us full of enthusiasm. These may be your strengths or times when you are at your best. Find ways to incorporate your passions and strengths into your daily life for a boost of positivity. Much of our happiness comes from incorporating activities and experiences into our life that gives us a positive boost. Developing self-awareness and becoming attuned to what brings us happiness is a major key to trigger positivity. Uncover your strengths, determine what gives you meaning, and begin to express greater compassion and love for others. Give it a try and see what happens. Your turn! How do you trigger positive? What gives your pleasure and meaning? What are your strengths that offer you a sense of pride and accomplishment? Photo credit: P.E.N.