Finding it hard to look on the bright side of life? Emma Bangay learns how to shut down stress and allow positive thoughts to prosper.
Recently, on a work trip Langkawi in Malaysia, I was lucky enough to hear local television personality, wellness author and Westin Wellbeing advocate Jojo Struys speak about positivity.
Going in, I was convinced that I knew all she was going to teach. I was positive, wasn’t I? Well, as Jojo immediately pointed out, enthusiastic and positive people are like corks; life’s stresses just can’t sink them. “It’s very hard to get them down,” she said. “They will find another way. They will not take no for an answer.”
And that’s when I really tuned in. For as happy as I was, I was already dreading the drop in positivity I was sure to feel once I swapped the clear blue Malaysian skies for the grey autumn daily grind!
So here's what Jojo taught me, and some simple ways you can combat stress and conserve positivity too!
“It is early in the morning that our willpower – which is like a muscle – is strongest,” Jojo explained. So by getting up earlier and getting on top of some of those things that cause stress build up during the day, you are already ahead of the game. This may be checking emails, getting into that exercise or watering the garden. Whatever brings you peace of mind and positivity, do it in the early A.M!
Take A Cue From Your Kids
A lot of our stresses are linked to past and future thoughts, Jojo explained, both of which we can do nothing about. “If you really want to be present and see the best in everything, look at kids and pets,” she suggests. “They live in the moment; the cry about something and then get over it. That is the gift of childhood that often adults forget because that positive moment is bookended by stress.”
Be like water. “We think we need to be built so strong, but it’s not about brute strength, it’s about being adaptive and dynamic and creative, like water,” Jojo says. “Being in a state of flow, you let go of the outcome and it comes to you.” Being adaptable to all situations and not remaining ‘fixated’ on an image of how your life should be will allow you to appreciate the positives in all situations, rather than dwell on the negatives.
Gratitude is huge, notes Jojo. “What makes you feel grateful? Capture it in a journal, catch a photo or note down a sentence and think about that before you go to bed at night,” she suggests. “If you do this for 21 days, something happens in the brain – you begin to change and feel differently about yourselves. So, before bed, don’t check emails, check into the positive points of your day.”
Jojo insists that sometimes you need to say no. “’Yes’ is empowering but sometimes you need to say ‘no’ to others to say yes to yourself,” she explains. “Choose discomfort in the moment of saying ‘no’ to someone, rather than choosing the resentment you feel later for having said ‘yes’.”