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Young woman looking sad and holding her head in her hand

If you’re going through a rough season in life, you can greatly improve your life if you’re willing to put in some work to change your mindset.

A handful of changes repeated consistently daily, week after week, can make an incredible impact on your life.  And the best part?  It’s completely free – you don’t need to buy any books or take any classes.  You just need to retrain your brain.

You Need to Change Your Mindset

Our minds are so powerful that we can drastically improve our lives simply by changing the way we think, perceive, and react to our everyday thoughts and experiences.

It may sound crazy, but your happiness is up to you. Here are five practices that can significantly impact your life.

1. Fill Your Mind with Positivity

One of the most important, albeit difficult, practices you must master is to constantly keep your mind filled with positivity.

We’re talking about true positive thinking here, not toxic positivity. You must work diligently at this – this is a huge shift for many people and can take some time to master.

Negativity will creep in if you let it. But, here is the cool thing….you don’t have to let it. You are in charge of your own thoughts and no one can take that away from you.

See, you have a choice in each situation that arises to see it for the negative or see it for the positive. With practice, you can train your mind to search for the positive and make that your focus. In many cases, this exercise can almost immediately snap you out of a bad mood.

You get to decide how your day will go. You get to set the tone each morning when you wake. Sure, crap happens…some days more than others. But here’s the thing, how you react to what happens makes all the difference in the world.

For example, if you oversleep in the morning and immediately think, “Ugh, I overslept. Now I’m running late and don’t have time to make breakfast…it’s going to be one of those days,” guess what? It will be.

When you’ve already pre-determined in your mind that you’re going to have a sucky day you will subconsciously focus on all the negative things that happen the rest of the day in order to fulfill your prophecy.

Conversely, if you oversleep in the morning and instead think to yourself, “Hey, I got a little extra sleep, I’m nice and rested plus I ran out of time to make my espresso at home so I’ll treat myself to the Starbucks drive-thru on the way to work,” guess what?

Now you’ve set yourself up for success. You’ve handled the first hiccup of the day like a champ, and you’re more inclined to brush off the little things that happen throughout your day.

I think it’s important to mention that we can often see the positives or “silver linings” in hindsight. Things make more sense later when the emotions have settled, and you’re able to be more objective.

That’s completely normal, hence the phrase, “hindsight is 50/50.”

It can be much more difficult while in the moment, but practice makes perfect, and eventually, you’ll be able to let the negative roll off your back and begin to see that the glass half full.

Positive thinking is like a muscle. You must train it. Feed it. Grow it. And if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

2. Practice Gratitude Daily

It’s difficult to convey how impactful this shift will be on your overall well-being.

If you were raised in a religious family, you were likely taught that you should be grateful for everything God (or whomever you worship) gave you. That feels like ‘practicing gratitude,’ right? You’re grateful you have a family, a job, a place to live, etc., but that’s just feeling grateful for what you have.

It’s easy to feel gratitude when comparing ourselves and our lives to those less fortunate than us. That’s easy. We have sympathy for them, and it reminds us how fortunate we are.

That’s being thankful, but ‘being’ and ‘practicing’ are two different things. One is passive, and one is active. The practice of gratitude requires action – not just passing thoughts.

Practicing gratitude can take many forms: keeping a gratitude journal, taking time to reflect each day on your life and the gratitude you feel for each part of it, consistently giving thanks to God for your abundant blessings (or whomever you pray to, or not if that’s not your thing).

Practicing gratitude means actively searching for things in your life to be grateful for that may not be as obvious.

Take time to make this a daily habit in your life, and you will be forever changed. 

Short on time? Even jotting down three things you’re grateful for each day while you’re drinking your morning coffee can give you those feel-good effects. You’ll start to feel lighter on your feet, less stressed and even sleep better.  Making gratitude, a priority will pay off in a big way.

3. Give Generously

This can be a touchy subject.  Many people have wonderful intentions of giving and helping others.  Many of those same people think they have nothing to give.

Those of us that suffer from a lack mentality believe if we give to others there won’t be enough left for us.

You probably already give more than you realize. Outgrown clothing, your kids’ old toys, a few bucks in the offertory basket at church, donating your spare change at the supermarket.

It feels good to give because “every little bit helps,” and you’ll give more someday when you’re on your feet and have extra money.

But here’s what you need to remember: you reap what you sow.

This applies to so much more than money. If you give where you are lacking, that is where you’ll grow.

  • Do you want to receive kindness? Be kind to others.
  • Do you want to boost your confidence? Boost someone else’s confidence.
  • Do you want to learn to love yourself? Convince someone else they are worthy of being loved.
  • Do you want to be blessed financially? Bless others with your finances

If we withhold our help from those who are deserving until we have “enough to give” we are only depriving ourselves of amazing experiences and human connections.

But there are no truly altruistic deeds, are there? Give not only to help others but because it will give you an indescribable feeling knowing you’ve contributed in some small way.

Give what you can with an open heart, and you may just be pleasantly surprised with how God – or the universe – moves in your life.

4. Surround Yourself with Good People

If your Momma never told you, then listen up. You are who you hang around. Maybe not yet, but eventually, you will.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Think about it. Like, really think about it. Be honest with yourself. Are you spending your time with people you aspire to be like? 

Do these people challenge you? Inspire you? Make you want to do better? Be better?

If not, they’ve got to go! Kick ’em to the curb.

How often do you see five losers palling around one super-successful guy? You don’t. Because if he sticks around long enough, eventually, he will become the 6th loser. They will bring him down. It never fails.

You can’t fill yourself with positivity when you surround yourself with negative people. Yes, maybe for a while you can, but little by little, they will drag you down to their level. To improve your life, you need to be mindful of the company you keep.

Seek out those who support you, lift you up, and have your best interests at heart. People who have what you want. People who are headed where you want to go – and will be there to welcome you when you arrive.

5. Give Yourself Grace

This might be the most important step to change your mindset.

Give yourself grace. Everyday. Just stop being so hard on yourself. This is a process with a substantial learning curve. Some days you will succeed.

You will blow sunshine up everyone’s butt, have a perma-smile, and feel like you can solve the world’s problems. Other days you will be grumpy, judgemental, and curse everyone who crosses your path. 

That’s normal, and you’re only human. Don’t feel guilty and frustrated; instead, give yourself grace and try again tomorrow.

Working to change your mindset can truly be a struggle. No one gets it right 100% of the time. Give yourself permission to screw up and, more importantly, permission to do better tomorrow.

Make a concerted effort to incorporate these mindset shifts into your daily routine, and you’ll be amazed at how much your life will change!

This article originally appeared on Cents + Purpose.

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