This month we have been talking about positivity and focussing on stories of love, happiness, inspiration, hope, and finding ways to keep our cups full. While this is a great standard to live by, I know that it isn’t always easy.

I’m sure many people can attest to receiving the well-intentioned advice to “stay positive” but sometimes it can be hard to be optimistic when you feel like you are swimming against the current. When you feel like you’re drowning in negativity just remember, happiness isn’t the only definition of positivity. There are many ways to stay positive in your life, even when you’re experiencing anger, sadness, or challenges. The definition of being positive is having hope and confidence in one’s ability to handle tough times, and keeping mind that “tough times don’t last, tough people do” (Robert H. Schuller). And I believe we all have the strength to overcome any challenges that are thrown our way.

Research shows that we have the power to change our emotions, and this can have an incredible impact on our mental and physical health, because our emotions change our body at the cellular level – they are scientifically shown to change our DNA! So rather than trying to get rid of negative feelings and emotions, we can choose to respond to them differently. To live a happier life, it’s essential to learn how to highlight the positive thinking and improve our outlook on life.

To support you on your journey toward filling up that cup, I’d like to share three personal strategies that have helped me:

Create a Positive Environment
For me, it has been absolutely imperative to surround myself with positive people who support me, people who lift me up when I’m down, and people I trust. It’s important to have people in your life that create a safe, judgement-free space for you to be you.

Another piece of creating a positive environment has nothing to do with people, but to do with your physical surroundings. My home is my safe space, and in it I surround myself with things that make me feel calm and at peace. And I further cultivate a positive environment when I am in this space doing things I love, such as reading, writing and listening to music.

Treasure Experiences Over Possessions
Over the last few years, I have struggled with confidence. I would have days where I was happy and proud of myself, therefore, I was positive. But then I would have days where I was sad and felt like I just wasn’t enough, therefore, I was negative. When I brought this to my therapist (Aquatera has excellent mental health resources which is one reason we were just named an Alberta Top 75 Employer!), I’ll never forget what he said. He told me that confidence is created through experiences.

In that moment, I knew I had to make a change. It was time to start living my life, having experiences, and creating memories (because when my time comes, I don’t want ALL of my experiences and memories to involve Netflix and Ben & Jerry’s! Just SOME of them…). And so, I did just that, one experience at a time.

One of my bucket list items that I kept putting off was learning how to paddleboard. And during Grande Prairie’s Heat Wave of 2021, I got my chance. I knew I couldn’t sit in my house all day in the 40+ temperatures so I phoned a local board shop and rented a paddleboard for the weekend. No turning back now!

The next day I was off to the lake and, I have to say, it was one of the best days of my life. Not just because it was fun, but because it was empowering. This was not just a physical experience, but a mental and emotional experience that revealed a strength I didn’t know I had. With this newfound confidence, I took it a step further – I purchased my own paddleboard and found myself hitting the road for a solo paddleboarding vacation. Talk about a confidence boost!

I read the truest statement the other day. It said “So, let me get this straight. Not feeling good will make me not have the energy to take care of myself, but taking care of myself is the only way I’ll have energy and feel good? Now, that’s a catch 22 if I ever heard one.

When you don’t have the energy, it can be difficult exert yourself physically. But exercise is crucial to maintaining your mental and physical health. You just need to build up some momentum and motivation. My advice – start small. When the pandemic hit, I started going for short walks throughout the day. I would put on a podcast, slip on my sneakers, and hit the walking path. Before I knew it, this became an essential part of my day. Slowly, I started adding more activities to my routine such as swimming at the Eastlink Centre. And now that it’s winter, I head out to Nitehawk to snowboard or spend the day at the Aquatera Tube Zone. These activities have also further extended my sense of empowerment, tying back to how experiences create confidence.

My mentor, Elle Woods, once said “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their…”. Well, we don’t need to get into that last part, but Elle was really onto something. Take your time and find something you love that fits your lifestyle. Then you will have space and energy for it in your life everyday.

In Closing

You don’t have to let negativity ruin your day. You have a choice about where you focus your attention and how you choose to respond to any situation. Try incorporating these tips into your life and I’m confident you’ll see how the positives outweigh the negatives. We would love to hear your tips on staying positive and keeping your cup full. Hit us up in the comments below!

And remember, every day isn’t good, but there is something good in every day.

I would like to dedicate this post to all of the mental health professionals who support us each and every day, particularly my therapist, Jim Francis, who will never know the profound impact he has had on my life.