“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.
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.