An adage says, “If there is no mental health, there is no health at all.” Deteriorating mental health can be even more debilitating than deteriorating physical health. There are a variety of reasons for deteriorating mental health (e.g. stress, past traumas, and being unfulfilled in your environment). Possessing a positive outlook has been shown to dramatically improve mental health. Maintaining a positive outlook is much more easier said than done, which is why it is a constant practice.
1. Have Gratitude
It is very easy to focus on the thousand missing pieces than the million pieces that patch up the missing pieces. Gratitude mitigates the past pain and resentments. It is impossible for you to have everything; therefore, focusing on the good that you do have takes your focus off of what you are lacking. Everyday, you should declare at least one aspect of your life that you are grateful for.
2. Imagine Climbing Two Steps Forward Up a Mountain
You may not feel like you are making progress in any area of your life because you feel like every time you take one step forward, you end up taking two steps back. Just because you cannot do something perfectly does not mean you are not improving. Life and the tasks that fall under the umbrella of life (e.g. education, job, marriage, raising a family, addiction recovery, and trauma healing) are all mountains. Envisioning yourself climbing a mountain (e.g. the addiction recovery mountain) will give you the courage to keep on climbing, even when you make mistakes. For example, everyday you go without picking up a drink or drug is two steps up the mountain. If you relapse or have a bad day where you start to fall back into the old mindset, do not see it as falling back. Instead, see it is only one step forward instead of two steps because you are still learning from that experience.
3. Surround Yourself Around Positivity
An old saying once said, “He who lies with dogs shall rise with fleas.” If you surround yourself around negative people and/or stay in a negative environment, the inevitable is that the negativity will rub off on you. Surrounding yourself around positive people and gravitating towards positive environments will encourage you and make you feel good about yourself, which will lead to you becoming more positive. If you struggle with attracting positive people and getting into positive environments, practice the law of attraction by declaring positive thoughts, even if you do not genuinely believe them.
4. Be Nice and Help Others
A saying from Al-anon, a support group for loved ones of addicts, says “Hurt people hurt people.” Though it may be tempting to be judgmental, callous, and selfish because you have been hurt in your life, making the effort to be nice and go out of your way to help others will make you feel better about yourself and the world. The epitome of this concept is supporting and advocating a cause that has hurt you. For example, if you were abused as a child, you can volunteer to spend time with abused children at your local child protection agency. Supporting and advocating a cause that has hurt you will help you see the good that can come from a bad situation.