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Why We Should Look Forward to More of Each Day

Excited for the day

“Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.” ~Unknown

For most of us the average day includes a mix of things we both look forward to and things we don’t look forward to. We look forward to coffee in the morning, we regret that we have to go to work; we look forward to coming home at the end of the day, we dislike that we have to do laundry.

But how much of your life are you giving up if you dread, dislike, regret and don’t look forward to, say, 50 percent of your average day? Logical reasoning says that, based on this estimate, you’re giving up half of your entire life. And you’re giving it up simply because you aren’t looking at your life from a healthy perspective.

When we don’t look forward to something—when we don’t enjoy it—we aren’t very present in that current moment. It’s like life is just passing by, and we’re just waiting for it to pass so we can get on with the more fun or interesting parts of each day.

When we get caught up in this waiting-for-better-moments routine, we aren’t actively living, are we?

We end up passive, joyless, unhappy, and unfulfilled. All because we’re waiting for the good things in life to happen for us.

Stop waiting.

You can have crazy amounts of joy and excitement in life if you just change the perspective from which you view things. And you can do it by following this one simple rule:

Look forward to each day.

A Life of Looking Forward

Looking forward to even the smallest parts of your day can not only make that day more enjoyable, but it can also improve your outlook on life, help you appreciate the things you have, keep you from getting stressed out, and help you have better relationships.

Look forward to each day and you’ll realize the millions of silver linings you’ve been ignoring, if only because you weren’t looking for them.

Maybe the first time you actively decide to look forward to going to work, you’ll realize how lucky you are to simply have a job. The next day you look forward to work, you might remember a kind act that someone at the office did for you the previous day and look forward to repaying that action.

Once you start looking forward to things more often, you’ll find more and more reasons to appreciate and be excited for everything that comes your way.

Look forward to paying your bills. You’re buying a roof over your head—something that other people in the world might never have the luxury to afford.

Look forward to sitting in traffic during rush hour; think of it as down time to reflect on the events of your day.

I might sound a little crazy to you right about now if you’re used to hating all of these things. Bills and traffic, after all, are never something to look forward to, right?

Only if you choose to have that perspective about them.

How I Started Looking Forward to Every Day

I won’t say that I’m a naturally negative person. I no longer believe that anyone is “naturally” anything. You can change anything about yourself if you really, really want to. I’ve learned that now.

I will say, though, that I am a pretty stressed out person most days. At least I was. Between you and me, I still am sometimes.

But I’ve chosen to stop being negative and to stop being stressed. I only try to enjoy everything. Each day I look forward to all the potential good things that could happen. I don’t lie to myself. I just look at everything in a positive light.

I used to dislike how I looked. I regretted the things I wasn’t born with. I regretted the opportunities I had never had. I disliked having to work when I didn’t feel like it. Many days I just waited for “this day” to be over, hoping that maybe tomorrow would be better.

I wish I could say that some life-changing realization struck me suddenly on a windy, mysterious night and that said realization allowed me to live my life positively from that day forward.

But that would be a lie.

The truth is, it took many years of me feeling bad about myself and searching for ways to feel better.

It took many sincere conversations for me to realize how negative I was being, and it took many, many attempts to correct my perspective and my behavior for me to finally, genuinely be positive.

You know, it’s kind of frustrating the first time that you realize you had the power to make your life drastically more enjoyable just by changing your perspective.

As soon as I started looking forward to just being me, my life became much happier. Every day is a good day now, because I’ve chosen to see it that way.

Don’t get me wrong; I still get sad, angry, and stressed. But I experience negative emotions like these much less often because I don’t wake up each day thinking about all the possible ways my day could go wrong.

Instead, I wake up and focus on all the great opportunities just waiting for me.

I’m telling you this because I’m hoping that you won’t spend years trying to be happier, and that you’ll simply start looking forward to each new day and feel all the joy that you’ve been missing out on.

I do understand, though, that it’s kind of hard to just suddenly start looking forward to everything, so here are a few tricks that work for me. Maybe they will help you start to view each day in an optimistic light.

1. Keep good feelings with you all the time.

If I watch an inspiring movie, witness a random act of kindness, or even just feel especially happy on a given day, I choose to remember those feelings and keep them in the forefront of my mind as I do whatever I’m doing. It’s like having an extra blanket of positivity in addition to me looking forward to my day.

Focus on retaining positive feelings and you’ll be a lot stronger when negative things come your way.

2. Just live.

If I find that my mind is wandering and that I’m stressing out about things I have to do today or that I’m trying to plan out my day too aggressively, I remind myself that I need to live in the present moment.

I stop thinking about everything. I just live. If I’m writing, I hone in on how good it feels to be typing. If I’m driving, I make sure to appreciate the scenery with extra attention to detail. I stop trying to control everything, and I just live in the moment.

3. Think of everything you are grateful for.

Another trick I’ve learned for suppressing negative thoughts and feelings is to think of everything I have. I think of all the things in that current moment that I can be grateful for, and I swear I find more and more each time.

I’ll tell you one thing: It’s really hard to be angry about a late rent check when you’re simultaneously grateful for the comfortable home in which you live.

4. Forgive everything.

I have to say, I’m still working on this one. But it does help me tremendously when I’m able to do it. My temper can be pretty off-the-handle, and someone cutting me off in traffic is definitely enough to spark it.

But I’ve gotten a lot better at remembering that I’ve probably done that same thing before, and I get over the issue and move on with my day.

It’s a lot easier to look forward to everything when you don’t let baggage from the past weigh you down.

If you take anything away from this today, let it be this: You are you. And that’s all you need to make today awesome. Look forward to it.

Happy jogger image via Shutterstock

About Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger with a passion for helping people improve their lives, especially in positive and healthy ways. When she isn’t blogging away on her personal site, Productivity Theory, you can find her on Lifehack.org. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest articles.

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  • Hannah

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been trying to think of 10 things I’m thankful for as soon as I wake up in the morning, and after reading your post, I’m going to try to list 10 things I’m looking forward to in the day when I get in my car to go to work.

  • Thanks so much for reading, Hannah! And thinking of positive things in your car each morning sounds like a great idea. Have you read John Gordon’s book, “The Positive Dog?” It’s a short-and-sweet positivity booster that I really enjoyed! =)

  • Chuck

    Well written. I admire that you admit that you still get angry at times, I think a lot of times people set unrealistic expectations when they try to live more positive lives. We get angry at something, or get caught up in the frantic pace of a crazy work day and long for it to end and think “Oh, I am just too high strung, I’m not like her.” Learning to do all of the above is a work in progress, like a garden, not every plant will take the first time, and as you write, it will take many attempts, the key is to continue working on that garden of peace.

  • That’s a great simile, Chuck! I have to say, it took me a few attempts at being more positive to not get frustrated with myself when I got upset or angry, but I’ve come to accept that negative emotions are just a part of life – it’s how we respond to them and handle them that really matters. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Peace Within

    Getting mad is natural. We are human! It’s how we choose to deal with it that changes!

  • Peace Within

    Kayla, I love your share. You have brought up great points. I would love to add that once you get to this point that you are at, you never go back to how you were. That’s how I feel now. Once you learn that life is about perception… We can make things better or worse… Happiness is in our own hands… Our minds are so powerful! =)

  • Lee Loo

    can you write a version of this for people without a job?

  • I love this story of personal transformation and how you lie your life now. I’ve realized that #3 and #4 is probably the 2 most important rules for living a happy and content life. If we are grateful for what we have, we feel less lack in our lives. And are thankful for what we easily take for granted. And forgiveness allows us to let go of things that upset us everyday and to let go of anger/frustration that can repeatedly come up. Practicing these two habits can be life-changing, as you know Kayla.

  • Ya know, I kind of have to agree with you. I try not to let myself think that it’s impossible to backslide, just so that I stay vigilant in my positive thinking, but I really don’t see how I could go back to being as stressed as I was before. It really is a freeing feeling, and I hope this post helps others get to where we are. <3

  • Definitely! I’ve been in that position before, and while I know it’s really difficult to try to stay positive when you’re bummed out about not working , you CAN do it. I’d be happy to write a detailed post about staying positive in the face of seeking work though. There are a lot of unique aspects about that specific situation that I think deserve attention. Thanks for reading!

  • Thanks so much for your support. =) Tips #3 and #4 are have definitely been some of the most helpful lessons I’ve learned in trying to look forward to each day. They’ve also been some of the hardest for me to do, but I think that just gives me more dive to be grateful and forgiving each day.

  • HI Kayla
    Thanks for sharing your story and insights. I think you brought up a very common problem a lot of us have. It is so easy to get consumed by all the things we don’t like doing, and make little to no time for the things we do. I think a lot of that stems from this distorted idea of what life is ‘supposed’ to be like. We think it is just 90 percent drudgery, 10 percent fun.

    Too many people take a strange pride in leading very stressful lives,and how much ‘stuff’ they can handle. But, this is not the type of life and way of being we should be aiming for.

    I am a huge advocate of focusing in on gratitude–it can take a bit to naturally go to this state because we are so programmed to focus on what we don’t like. We feel very justified operating in this way, and ignoring the good.

    Great tips here!

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kelli! I think that many of us grow up with the idea that being an adult has to mean being stressed and worried all the time. Or at the very least, not enjoying most things. Too bad that many people never realize that doesn’t have to be the case. I definitely think we could flip the scales and make life 90 percent fun and only 10 percent drudgery – just depends on how you want to see your day-to-day. =)

  • Arunkumar

    Wonderfully written. Thank you!

  • Mereana Beconcini

    Great post 🙂 I agree, perspective is reality, you can’t change reality but you can change your perspective.

  • Hey again! Just wanted to let you know that I wrote an article about this topic for The Huffington Post recently. You can find it here if you’re still seeking some motivational advice: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kayla-matthews/how-to-stay-positive-when_b_5902918.html

  • Joy Stephanie

    Thank you for this article. I realized it is important to look forward to each day even it’s just average day. That’s true. I noticed I get more excited when I have something to look forward to. I need to change my perspectives on things because it can make my life more beautiful. Those tricks. I had issues with being negative. I guess we do choose how we feel throughout the day. We can choose to be happy. I also need to work on letting go things when I make mistakes. Especially on rainy days I have this so-so attitude.

  • Keeping it real

    I find this article helpful but I think u actually have to have something u like doing to look forward to. I love to draw so when I am at work through your my day I enjoy work the best I can but what really gets me thru is REALLy having something I love to look forward too. I think keeping it real is easiest. I don’t go skipping into my job but I don’t pout and moan either. Just a pleasant spot in between happy and sad. Just in the middle has worked best for me. When I try to be a certain type of happy is when I tend to feel the worst.
    Keeping it real. 🙂

  • lionessinbloom

    this is beautiful and extremely resonant with me in my current circumstances. thank you.

  • Di

    Still depressed and disabled