This week we focus on the third pillar of wellbeing: outlook. Do you feel appreciative and gratified? Or are you more of a dissatisfied cynic? Do you see the good in others, or only how they are not up to your standards?
According to Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness, our brain is like Teflon for the good things and velcro for the bad. Bad things that happen tend to stick in our minds, and we ruminate about them for days and days. However, when something good happens, we let it slide, without taking much notice. Dr. Hanson suggests it is important that we appreciate and see all the moments of goodness and turn them into positive experiences. That means we should recognise even the smallest of positive moments in each day and really let them sink in. By doing so, we savour the goodness of each moment and, even better; we develop habits of gratitude and appreciation – two key factors of outlook that support wellbeing.
Essentially, outlook is our ability to savour positive experiences, whether that is appreciating a much-needed coffee break, or seeing the kindness in a stranger.
Where resilience, which we discussed as pillar one, requires thousands of hours of practice, research suggests we may require only modest doses of compassion and loving-kindness meditation to impact our outlook.
How to Enhance Your Outlook Through Mindfulness
There are several exercises you can do to strengthen positive outlook:
- SPEND TIME WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE
If you surround yourself with people who always complain, their negativity is going to stick to you like velcro. But, spend time with positive people and the likelihood is that your positive thinking habits will strengthen.
- BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BEHAVIOUR
When you encounter difficulties in life, don’t play the victim. Instead, acknowledge your role in the situation and be responsible for your behaviour. By accepting responsibility you can learn from mistakes.
- READ INSPIRATIONAL MATERIAL
Spend a little time every day reading something that encourages positive thinking and behaviour. Inspirational quotes and other materials that you find positive can help you focus on what is important, and it is an excellent way to enhance your outlook.
- RECOGNISE AND REPLACE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
You won’t succeed with a positive outlook if negative thoughts plague you. Learn to acknowledge and replace those thoughts. For instance, if you find yourself thinking, “I always mess things up,” replace it with a more realistic thought, such as, “I make mistakes sometimes, but I do learn from them.”