Cultivate Positive Emotions

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Did you know that most of our daily thoughts are negative in nature? And did you know, according to WebMD (2021), that 75%-90% of visits at the doctor’s office are stress related? Such statistics make it impossible for us to ignore the huge impact our mind has on our mental and physical health. What can be done about this, especially when we think of how this can affect our young people’s mental health? Should our youth keep on letting negative emotions run the show and have that much power over them, or should they attempt to change the rules?

If they’re going to go for the second option, then it becomes imperative for them to call positive emotions to the rescue and make them their best friends and allies in their endeavor to change things. If negative emotions are powerful in hurting them and their health, positive emotions are even more powerful in protecting them and making them more resilient in every possible way.

Positive emotions are very beneficial for human beings, and those benefits can be felt almost instantly from the moment our minds shift from negative to positive thinking. Not only do positive emotions have the power to make us more creative, more efficient, more adaptable, more sociable, and more active and attentive, but they also make us significantly more resistant to physical illness while strengthening our mental health. Shifting to and welcoming positive emotions in our mind is like putting in place a whole new way of thinking and acting that has the power to transform our life entirely.

Let’s take a look at those positive emotions that have the ability to transform your young person’s life for the better.

Cultivate Love & Comfort

Love is like a superpower. It will bring you peace and serenity when there is discord. It will heal your deepest wounds and sorrows. It will dry your tears and cleanse you of all negativity. It will restore hope in your life and will give you strength when you feel at the end of your rope. It will wrap you up in an embrace of comfort and will teach you self-acceptance and self-compassion so you can be the best version of yourself. And by doing so, you will become a beacon of light and comfort to others. Love is the ultimate gift you can give yourself. It’s right there waiting for you. All you have to do is let it in.

To give love to others in a healthy manner, it is essential that you first cultivate and practice self-love. There are different ways for you to cultivate self-love that are powerful and that will bring peace, healing, strength, comfort, self-acceptance and self-compassion into your life.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Let go of the idea that self-love is conditional and that you must deserve it in order to experience it.

Thinking that self-love, and receiving love from others, is conditional on what you do, what you say, what you think or what you look like can have a serious impact on your self-esteem. Self-love is and should only be seen as being unconditional.

Be gentle to your body and your mind.

Self-love requires you to cultivate the capacity to be kind to yourself. Treat your body with respect. You only have one, therefore it’s essential that you take good care of it. Make sure to feed your body with healthy foods that will make it thrive and become stronger. Exercise as often as you can. Choose a kind of workout that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Go to the gym, go swimming, go biking or go for a walk in nature. Anything that makes your body feel good and healthy should be on your list of priorities.

Be kind to your mind by learning to be aware of your thoughts and the power they have over you.

Such awareness will allow you to recognize the inner critic inside of you that tries to pull you down and hold you back by making you feel small and afraid. One way to cultivate such awareness is to discover the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Such practice is very powerful and will teach you to recognize your thought patterns and then control and silence the inner critic within you.

Know that you are unique, there’s no one else like you in this world.

Therefore, stop comparing yourself to others. Such comparisons are skewed since there’s no one else like you in this world. Let go of the need for approval from others. Instead, embrace and love the things that make you different. They are the things that make you so special thus don’t ever let anyone make you feel or think otherwise.

Surround yourself with people who truly care about you, who love you, support you and who are kind to you.

Connect or reconnect with friends, family members and whoever will treat you with kindness and respect. Their love will empower you and will remind you of how amazing you are.

Cut all ties with any toxic relationship you may have.

This is absolutely crucial to cultivating self-love. Any one who brings you down, puts you down and makes you feel sad, unhappy, unsafe, and less than amazing does not deserve to be part of your life in any way.

Cultivate Appreciation & Gratitude

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Gratitude is another superpower that has the capacity to transform your life for the better. No wonder scientists have been researching its benefits actively for a while now. How would you like to build better and more meaningful relationships, significantly improve your physical and mental health, experience a deep sense of happiness, sleep better, improve your self-esteem, and increase your mental strength? You can easily enjoy all those benefits. All it requires is for you to develop your ability to sincerely appreciate the things and the people in your life who are positive and make you feel good. It’s quite simple, and yet so powerful.

Despite all the known benefits practicing gratitude can bring into your life, you may have noticed that being genuinely thankful can sometimes be difficult. It does not always come easy to us because we tend to be more focused on the negative things in our life rather than on the positive ones. There are simple ways, however, to cultivate gratitude and appreciation that will better your life and improve the way you relate to yourself, to others and to life in general.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Start your day on the right side of the bed.

The way you feel and the state of mind you adopt when you start your day usually sets the tone for the way your day will be like. Therefore, adopting a positive attitude from the moment you wake up can influence the rest of your day. This can be achieved by starting your daily routine with being grateful. Before you get up, see if you can think of one or two things you are thankful for. It can be the nice and warm weather outside, your good health, the fact that you’re going camping with your friends later that day, or anything else that makes you feel good, warm and happy inside.

Start a gratitude journal.

Devote a few minutes at the end of each day to write in your journal. List two or three things that happened that day and that inspire you to feel grateful. Writing in your gratitude journal at the end of the day gives you a chance to reflect on events you experienced that day and how they made you feel. Writing about them will help you connect with those feelings and learn to recognize the impact they have on your physical and mental well-being. Discover the power of gratitude by feeling how good it makes you feel inside.

Discover the power of gratitude affirmations.

Gratitude affirmations, though short and simple, are powerful expressions of appreciation that can influence your emotional state while helping you focus on the positive in your life. You can use pre-written gratitude affirmations such as:

  • “I am grateful for all I have.”
  • “It feels good to give and receive love.”
  • “I am thankful for my family and my friends”
  • “Today I will have an attitude of gratitude.”
  • “Gratitude is my superpower.”

However, the most powerful affirmations are those you create yourself because they are genuine and heartfelt and connect to you personally.

Write your affirmations each day on an index card that you will keep with you throughout the day so you can look at it from time to time. If writing a gratitude affirmation each day is too much for you, then write one every two or three days, or any time that feels right to you. In addition, when you write your affirmations, try to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep it short and simple.
  • Use the present and future tense.
  • Always keep it positive.
Express your gratitude to people, even people you don’t know.

We all have the tendency sometimes to take for granted the things others do for us, whether they be favors or kind gestures. Try to become aware of whether this is one of your tendencies. If it is, see if you can change it by simply, genuinely, and purposefully saying “Thank you!” to the people, including strangers, who are good to you in one way or another and who improve your life every day. You will be surprised at how a simple, “Thank you!” can go a long way and brighten the day of those around you and how good and warm inside their uplifted mood will make you feel.

Cultivate Curiosity

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Did you know that scientific research shows that curiosity and conscientiousness combined are more important than intelligence in predicting success? When you’re curious, you crave for knowledge and you love hunting for answers to questions such as “what?,” “why?,” and “how?” Such a mindset was found to be critical to success because it’s the driving force behind innovations and new discoveries in all fields. Cultivating curiosity will keep your mind sharp, active, and creative which will increase your chances to expand your horizons and bring success into your life.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Discover the power of open-mindedness.

To develop your curiosity, you must be and remain open-minded about yourself and the world around you. It takes both humility and determination. You should be ready to question some of the things you may believe to be right and be willing to accept the possibility you may be wrong about those things, and that changing your mind may be beneficial to you and help you grow as a person.

Let go of the “blasé” attitude.

Feeling blasé and bored will impede your capacity to remain open to new possibilities, new ideas and new adventures. The moment you view something as boring you close a door that, had you chosen to open it, may have introduced you to an entire new perspective on things. There may be a whole new and exciting world behind that door and it’s up to you to cultivate your curiosity in a way that will allow you to explore it.

Don’t take anything for granted.

The number one rule to develop your curiosity is to never stop asking questions. Be relentless in your willingness to go beneath the surface of things. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Dig deeper, sharpen your understanding of things by asking “why?”, “when?”, “how?”, “where?” and “who?”. Such questions are curious people’s best assets and will take you far in your search for answers and your understanding of the world that surrounds you.

Read, read and read some more.

Books and magazines are your best friends when it comes to developing your curiosity. Books will take you into a world of novelty that will enhance your creativity and introduce you to exciting new topics that maybe you didn’t even know existed. Make a list of subjects that interest you and look for magazines and books that will satisfy your thirst for new knowledge and ideas.

Cultivate Excitement & Passion

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Do you like feeling excited about something? It’s exciting to be excited. Yet, there is an even deeper emotion than excitement, and that is passion. While excitement is generally short-lived, passion brings you sustained and long-lasting energy and, yes, excitement too, to achieve anything that is important to you. Passion has this incredible capacity to expand and grow with time. It breeds more passion, generates discipline, and helps you use your energy efficiently and focus on achieving your dreams. Passion will bring inexhaustible excitement to your life, so find your passion and start living your life fully. Maybe you already know what you’re passionate about. However, if you’re not quite sure what your passion is, don’t worry as there are several ways for you to identify and cultivate it.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Pay attention to what motivates and inspires you.

Consider a list of categories of activities that could become passions such as:

  • Music
  • Nature
  • Sports
  • Travel and discovery
  • Art (in all its forms)
  • Teaching/coaching
  • Spirituality

This list is not exhaustive, of course, but it’s a good start. You can add to it any other category that interests you. Explore and research each category and see if any one of them stands out, resonates with you and excites you. Do you wish you were really good at one or more of them? This could be indicative of what you could become passionate about.

  • Explore the possibilities.
    Pick two or three potential passions out of your list and explore them. Be creative and write down all the ways you can think of to pursue them. Don’t restrict yourself in your thinking. Think big. Let the sky be the limit.
  • Then expand your knowledge about your future passion. Read books on the topic, listen to podcasts, talk to people who have the same passion and have them share their experience and excitement with you.
  • Go for it!
    Experiment with your new passion. Do an internship or take a course related to it. Do some volunteering in the field of your passion. Explore what can be found on social media on the topic. You can also consider starting a blog and this way meet plenty of people who share the same interests and who will encourage you to pursue your passion so it becomes an important part of who you are.
Make your passion grow.
  • Set some clear goals around your passion from the start. Figure out what place you want your passion to have in your life. Do you want to make a career out of it or will it be an exciting hobby for you? Setting goals will give you a sense of direction that will guide you and inspire you as you make your passion a meaningful part of your life.
  • Make sure to integrate your passion in your daily life one way or another, even if it’s for a short period of time each day. Cultivating your passion daily will give it momentum which will motivate you and encourage you to reach your goals and get the results you want.

Cultivate Determination

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Determination is like a secret ingredient that has the power to transform your life by turning opportunities into reality. It keeps you moving forward, focused, and capable of overcoming the challenges and obstacles that may come between you and your goals and dreams. Determination is the #1 quality that separates failure from success. Choose to integrate it into your life, develop it, cultivate it, and nurture it. After that, the sky’s the limit.

Cultivating self-determination skills is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Determination will help you gain control over your life and therefore it is an essential ingredient to your success.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Be aware: identify and understand your abilities and your limits.

As the famous psychologist Robert Sternberg said, success is about capitalizing on our strengths and compensating for our weaknesses. Learn to become aware of who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Recognize them, and most importantly accept them. Knowing yourself truly, in all humility, will empower you in ways that will surprise you and that will give you the courage and the motivation to transcend what you think are your limits. By doing so, you will cultivate and strengthen your self-determination.

Work hard, give your best and persevere in the face of obstacles and adversity.

Dreams come true and goals are reached through action. Your feeling that you are in control of your life is essential for you to choose and take the right line of action to make things happen for yourself. Be aware of your strengths and make them work for you. Take charge and look ahead, never behind. Don’t give up and don’t give in when obstacles arise. See those obstacles as opportunities to reinforce your determination. Self-determination, like many other abilities, works pretty much like a muscle. The more you use it, the more it develops and the stronger it gets. So, go for it, grab every opportunity you can find to use your self-determination so you can reap all the benefits it has to offer.

Capitalize on your past wins and achievements.

When obstacles arise, or even pile up, when your determination is put to the test and you feel tempted to give up, remember a past win or a past achievement. Let that past win remind you of your capacity to overcome hurdles and of how you have succeeded in the past and made a difference somehow either for yourself or for someone else. This will reenergize your self-determination and propel you forward toward your dreams and goals.

Cultivate Flexibility

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Emotional flexibility is the ultimate tool you want to make sure you have in your “Best Life Skills” toolkit. It is an incredible adaptive skill essential to your well-being because it gives you the ability to adapt to any situation or circumstances. It helps you regulate your emotions, be comfortable with discomfort, and navigate uncomfortable situations without being overwhelmed. Charles Darwin said, “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

Emotional flexibility leads to resilience and resilience is a crucial skill that allows you to adapt to your circumstances and overcome hardships that may show up in your life. Emotional flexibility and resilience strengthen you and help you experience adversity without letting it define you. It’s essential to your capacity to adapt to the world around you. There are valuable ways for you to cultivate your emotional flexibility.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Discover the power of meditation and mindfulness.

Emotional flexibility is about regulating our emotions. There is no better way for you to learn about emotional regulation than through the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Just 15 minutes of meditation per day have the potential to change your life and the way you relate to yourself and to your emotions. It will quiet your mind, make you feel more peaceful and relaxed and more resilient in the face of challenges. Mindfulness activities will develop your capacity to gain control over your emotions, which is priceless because it’s the first step toward gaining control over your life.

Make plenty of friends and stay engaged socially.

Avoid isolating yourself. Expand your horizons by meeting all kind of people from different cultures who have different traditions, opinions and beliefs. This will help you become open-minded, tolerant and flexible in your ways of thinking and interacting with the world and the people around you.

Workout!

Engage in a physical activity that you truly enjoy and see if you can practice it daily, or at least as often as possible. Exercising is a powerful stress reducer that will help you let go of repressed feelings and emotions. It will clear your mind, calm you down help you regulate your emotions, think more clearly and make decisions from a place of full awareness.

Cultivate Confidence

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Success in life and reaching goals depends heavily on decisions we make in real time. A single one of your decisions could change the course of your life, and self-confidence plays an important role in making that decision. Self-confidence frees you not only of self-limiting and negative thoughts, but also of fear and anxiety. It fosters mental strength and provides you with the energy and motivation you need to take action to reach your goals. Most importantly, it gives you the courage and the determination to be your authentic self, and that’s priceless.

We all have times when we feel more confident than others. Self-confidence plays a central role in our lives when it comes to being successful in life and reaching our goals. Cultivating and developing our self-confidence should be a priority for all of us because so much ensues from it.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Surround yourself with positive people

What kind of company do you keep? How do your friends make you feel? Are they kind to you? Are they supportive of who you are and what you do? Do you feel empowered by their presence or, on the contrary, do you feel they are judging you or put you down? Any sort of relationship that brings you down and makes you feel bad about yourself is toxic in nature and will destroy your self-confidence instead of building it up. The people who surround you can influence your attitudes, your thoughts and the way you view and feel about yourself. This is why it’s so important to seek out the company of people who love you, care about you, respect you and bring out the best in you. Don’t ever settle for less.

Face your fears.

Sometimes, a lack of self-confidence can make you avoid certain situations that scare you such as applying for a job or asking someone on a date. You may be in avoidance because you are afraid to make a fool of yourself or to mess things up. When this happens, remember that you always have the choice of how you perceive and approach the situation. You can indeed decide to see what’s going on as an opportunity to challenge what you believe to be your own limits. This will give you a chance to overcome your self-doubts and hesitations. It will boost your self-confidence and you will find yourself more willing to take on new challenges in order to reach your goals and dreams.

Be good to your body.

In order for you to feel good about yourself, you must learn to take care not only of your mind but also of your body. The mind-body connection is a very powerful feedback loop, therefore by taking care of your body you are also taking care of your mind and vice versa. Practicing self-care will naturally make you feel more confident. Here are a few ways for you to take care of your body that are conducive to increasing your self-confidence.

  • Exercise!
    A large body of research shows that physical activity is highly correlated to increased levels of confidence. Not only it will improve your health overall, but it will also improve your body image, and a more positive body image will, in turn, boost your self-confidence.
  • Eat healthy!
    When you provide your body with healthy foods, you feel stronger, healthier and more energized. As a result, you feel good about yourself and a lot more confident.
  • Get more ZZZs!
    You’ve probably experienced before what sleep deprivation feels like and the effects it can have on you. It can make you feel anxious, stressed out, short tempered, impatient, negative in your thinking and even sometimes plain depressed. On the other hand, there’s plenty of research that shows that getting sufficient and good quality sleep will make you feel rested, relaxed, clear headed, optimistic and in a good mood which are all linked to improved levels of confidence.

Cultivate Happiness & Joy

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Happiness and joy are the stars of positive emotions. They are life transforming, literally. Research shows that happy people are more successful, enjoy better health, have a rich social life and more friends, have a positive outlook on life and healthier lifestyles, are more grateful, productive and creative, and last but not least, they live longer.

The time for you to be happy is NOW.

Cultivating happiness is undoubtedly one of the most powerful ways to change your life entirely from your physical and mental health to your social and professional life, and so much more. Below are a few ways for you to cultivate joy and happiness so they can become an integral part of your life and of who you are as a person.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Take good care of your health.

This is one of the basic requirements to cultivating joy and happiness. This doesn’t mean that people suffering from an illness or a disability cannot be happy, far from it. But there are simple aspects of your health you have an easy control over and that can contribute significantly to your experiencing happiness. Those aspects are very straightforward and you are already aware of how important they are. All you have to do is choose to do what is necessary to improve them.

  • Sleep more and better.
    Good quality sleep will improve the stability of your moods, your vitality, how clear headed you are, and therefore it will directly affect your levels of happiness.
  • Feed your body wisely.
    Healthy foods and nutrients will make your body stronger, healthier, full of energy and more resilient to stress and diseases. Needless to say, that all these benefits contribute greatly to having a healthier mind and positive attitude toward life.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
    A large body of scientific studies demonstrate consistently how physical exercise helps us fight stress, fatigue, anxiety and negative emotions. There is no one single kind of exercise that will bring you these benefits. Any kind of workout will work as long as you enjoy it and practice it on a regular basis, that is at least one hour per day five times a week.
The power of gratitude – Count the blessings in your life.

Did you know that there is a science of gratitude and that research is being conducted on the powerful link that exists between the practice of gratitude and happiness? Robert Emmons, professor at UC Davis, is a leading researcher on the science of gratitude. His popular research shows that counting our blessings reduces toxic emotions such as resentment, frustration and envy while improving overall well-being, increasing resilience, and reducing stress and depression. The bottom line is that gratitude effectively increases happiness, so let gratitude become a part of your life and embrace the happiness it will bring to you.

One way to do this, is to keep a gratitude journal in which, every evening, you write down three good things that happened to you during the day. It doesn’t have to be big things. In fact, it’s important that you train your mind to be grateful for the things we usually tend to take for granted such as being in good health, having food on your table, having caring family members and friends, and even for the fact that it was warm and sunny outside when you woke up this morning.

Seek out the company of happy and positive people.

Were you aware that happiness is contagious? That’s exactly what research shows. Being around happy people will influence and even change your mood for the better. So, make a point to surround yourself with happy people and to distance yourself from negative and toxic people whose moods can also rub off on you.

Be kind to yourself and others.

Give yourself and others the gift of kindness and compassion. Research makes some powerful arguments in favor of kindness. Studies have shown that being kind is associated with greater feelings of happiness, well-being, and life satisfaction. It was also found to increase self-esteem, empathy, compassion and good mood. Choosing kindness for oneself and others is a very simple way to welcome happiness into your life.

Cultivate Vitality

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Emotional vitality is this sense of positive life energy and aliveness that fills you up entirely and makes you feel fully engaged in that wonderful thing called Your Life. It is one of the five key strengths highly correlated with happiness and well-being. The other four strengths are curiosity, hope, gratitude, and the capacity to love and be loved.

In this ever changing and uncertain world where stress and pressure keep growing faster and faster, in order for us to have a chance to manage difficult situations, cope with adversity and fulfill our daily obligations, we need high levels of vitality.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Practice self-care.

A healthy body and mind are an absolute requirement to experiencing healthy levels of vitality. Take good care of your body and your mind – exercise at least one hour per day five times a week, feed your body with healthy foods and nutrients, get plenty of good quality sleep and take a break, a huge break, from your phone and social media. Your vitality will thank you for it.

Do something positive each day.

Set up positive and constructive daily routines that you enjoy and that make you feel good and happy such as allocating 15 minutes every morning and/or evening to meditating on some peaceful and relaxing music, taking your dog for a walk in nature, drawing, crafting, keeping a gratitude journal or any other activity that puts a smile on your face and therefore energizes you and increases your vitality.

Stay close and engaged with the people you love.

Feeling connected to the people you love will fill you with plenty of positive energy and make you feel good and alive. Fulfilling and positive relationships are essential to your mental health. They bring you support and comfort when you feel down, and they give you the strength and the motivation to overcome obstacles and cope with hardships. They have the power to keep your head above water in your darkest moments. The connection you have with the people you love and who love you is a true treasure.

Practice positive self-talk.

You may have heard before the quote that says that what we think we become. In cognitive psychology, it is well known that our thoughts trigger emotions that, in turn, prompt our behaviors and actions. Basically, we are shaped by our thoughts which means that it is essential that we always be aware of the nature of our thoughts. Positive and energizing self-talk will cultivate your vitality while negative and toxic self-talk will deteriorate it.

Cultivate a Sense of Purpose & Contribution

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

A sense of purpose is born of the things that matter to you deep inside, that you believe in, and that you value greatly. The greatest gift a sense of purpose will give you is the chance to live by those values and thus to be true to yourself. You may discover your sense of purpose very early on or at a later stage in your life. It will be influenced and shaped by your life experiences and the people you meet. Not only will it connect you to your authentic self, but it will also become the ultimate driving force behind your striving for your goals. It will give you the strength and perseverance to pursue your dreams when faced with obstacles or adversity. Most importantly, it will remind you, every single day, of how precious, unique, and meaningful your life is.

It’s not always easy to feel a sense of purpose. There are times when you may feel aimless and when you’re not sure what the meaning of your life is. Don’t let those transitory feelings define your life. Just pause, breathe deeply, and remember that having a purpose in life has many benefits, a very valuable one being that it will keep you going when the going gets tough. So, don’t hesitate to cultivate a sense of purpose, which you can start doing today. It will require you to put some work into it but it’s very much worth it.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Mindfulness to the rescue.

You may have noticed in the past that It’s difficult to engage in self-reflection and to find inspiration when your mind is overactive and all over the place. For you to discover your sense of purpose, your mind must be at peace and connected to the present moment instead of being wandering into the past or wondering about the future. The practice of mindfulness has the power to reconnect you to the Here and Now. It will calm and appease your mind and relax your body. This will allow you to create some inner space, a sort of pause in time that will help you see and approach things from a place of calmness and awareness. When in that state, you might be surprised to realize how your mind can provide you with some very creative ideas about what your sense of purpose in life may be.

Cultivate your curiosity and discover what you love to do.

Make a list of your interests and of all those activities or topics that excite you and resonate with you. When you’re done with your list, then it’s time for you to explore the items you wrote on it. Be curious about each item. Research them in depth. Read books, listen to podcasts, meet people with similar interests and passions. Broaden your horizons by expanding your knowledge of what excites you. Brainstorm about what you love to do and that resonates with you because sooner or later it will lead you to what you are looking for – your sense of purpose.

Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people.

What kind of people do you hang out with? What sort of company are your friends? Do you enjoy being with them? Do they make you feel good, uplifted and inspired? Think seriously about this because research shows that being around positive, optimistic and confident people will actually rub off on you, and their positive energy might become a real source of inspiration for you. Conversely, if you surround yourself with negative and pessimistic people that drag you down, you might want to reconsider the company you keep. A sense of purpose is born from passion and it’s hard to feel passionate and purposeful when the people around you are not interested in making positive contributions.

Cultivate altruism – give to others.

Research conducted at Florida State University and Stanford showed that giving to others connected people in a way that made them feel they had a more purposeful life. Giving to others doesn’t necessarily mean doing something very significant. It’s a lot simpler than that. It could mean for you to volunteer for a non-profit organization, in a soup kitchen, in a shelter or in a retirement home. It’s about giving a little bit of yourself and of your time to people who are in need. It can also be about simply being kind to people around you on a day-to-day basis, and that can mean just smiling at a stranger in the street or at the grocery store.

Just try it and see how being kind and giving to others can render your life a lot richer and more meaningful.

Cultivate Positivity

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Winston Churchill spoke of the incredible power of optimism in the following terms, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” A positive attitude is as essential to your life as the air you breathe. A pessimistic attitude will stop you and paralyze you at every turn, while a positive outlook will give you the energy, the grit, the self-confidence, and the inspiration you need to overcome, and most importantly, to learn from any challenging situation life may be throwing at you. Positivity is the cornerstone of your success and your happiness. It is like a powerful guiding light that will get you through pretty much anything in your life. It doesn’t grow on trees, however. It is something you must choose to acquire and integrate into your life. Don’t put it off, train your mind to think positively now, today. The rest of your whole life will thank you for it.

Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself whether you have a glass half-full of half-empty approach to life? Are you an optimist who sees the opportunity in every difficulty or a pessimist who sees the difficulty in every opportunity? If you tend to be the latter, then you should know that you are not doing yourself a favor. Indeed, research shows that pessimism can have a significantly negative impact on your physical and mental health. Just think about that and see if maybe now wouldn’t be a good time to reconsider the way you think about things and turn your pessimism into optimism. As you would expect, that positive thinking is not a magic wand that will make all your problems go away. What it will do, however, is make those problems seem more manageable and help you approach adversity in a more effective and constructive way.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Keep a thought journal.

In order to change your thoughts so they will be more positive and constructive, you first need to become aware of those thoughts. You just cannot change something you’re not even aware of. To help you with this, you may want to start a journal in which you will record in the evening the thoughts you remember having that day. It will allow you to keep track of your negative thoughts and to become aware of them. When you’ve identified them, try to label the negative emotions associated with your thoughts such as anger, frustration, fear, disgust, guilt, etc. Then try to identify how those emotions make you feel (i.e. sad, down, depressed, anxious, etc.) Becoming aware of the nature of your thoughts and being able to label them is the very first step you must take to change them.

Develop positivity by cultivating gratitude.

Pr. Robert Emmons from University of California Davis, conducted some famous research on the benefits of gratitude and showed that practicing gratitude can change your thought patterns in a significant way. It seems that when you’re actively appreciating the good things in your life, your mind doesn’t have any “room” left for negative thoughts. Your mind just cannot think positively and negatively at the very same time. In order to help you with your practice of gratitude, you can start a Gratitude Journal. Doing so was found to improve well-being, optimism and positivity. Try to write in your journal every evening and simply list two or three good things that happened to you that day. Think of people, situations, or things that made you feel good and uplifted. And while you’re at it, let those people know you’re grateful they’re in your life, and that you’re thankful for all the times they do nice things for you. It will brighten their day instantly as well as yours!

Ask yourself what kind of positive person would you like to be?

Make a list of the positive attitudes you’d like to have. Being positive can take many different forms. To help you identify the positive state of mind you’d like to adopt to replace your negative thinking, try to make a list of the kind of positive attitudes you’d like to have and make yours. Set some time aside and start writing your list. Be creative and open-minded. Imagine what the positive you would look like.

Here are a few examples (Jarrow, 2012) to help you jump start your list.

  • Being kind and friendly to people around you or people you don’t know.
  • Being a source of positive energy that lifts people around you.
  • Motivating people around you with positive words.
  • Being happy for someone else’s success or good fortune.
  • Complimenting people who have done something good or well.
  • Not letting negative people bring you down.

This list is not exhaustive. Add other attributes to it. The more positive attributes you can think of, the easier it’ll be for new ones to come to your mind thereafter. Write them all down and read them every day, if possible. As you generate new items to add to your list, you will notice how your mind gradually shifts in order to adopt those attributes you’d love to have.

Cultivate Serenity

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Serenity is a state of calm and peacefulness that reflects one’s inner peace. In that state, you know how to control your thoughts, you enjoy a sense of balance and harmony between your body and your mind, and between your positive and negative emotions. This very desirable state usually translates into a deep feeling of happiness, and a sense of plenitude and satisfaction. The practice of mindfulness is one of the most powerful and effective ways to reach that state. Close your eyes…. Take a deep breath…. You’ve just taken your first step toward it.

We intuitively know that serenity is one important contributing factor to happiness. We all wish serenity was part of our life because it feels so good to feel truly calm and peaceful inside. Our intuition is right on target because studies show that serene people tend to enjoy life a lot more and are better equipped to cope with problems and challenges because they can remain calm and clear headed when dealing with them. Unfortunately, serenity will not just fall on your lap. It requires work and effort to achieve it but the rewards are so huge that it will make your efforts totally worth the effort.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Find peace and serenity in mindfulness.

If you haven’t already, you should think about looking into the treasures the practice of mindfulness can offer you. Mindfulness will show you the way to a more serene life.

  • It will teach you how to become fully aware of the present moment and how to take a pause in the midst of the day’s turmoil, whenever you choose to.
  • It will teach you to get out of your head, calm your thoughts and make you feel at peace by getting your mind back on the right track whenever you feel it’s wandering off in the wrong direction.
  • It will teach you what is known as “mindful acceptance”. Don’t be misled by the term “acceptance”. It doesn’t mean you should accept the unacceptable, like being treated badly by others. It’s about learning that people are who they are while accepting you cannot control or change them. The only person you have control over is you. It’s your choice whether to spend time with those people or not, but you do accept you can’t change them. It’s essential that you understand that mindful acceptance has nothing to do with being a push over who has become resigned to accepting anything life throws at them. Quite the contrary. Mindful acceptance is understanding what you can and cannot change, and gives you the freedom to choose at any point in time how you’re going to respond to a situation. That choice is made from a place of wisdom and full awareness that will bring you a great deal of inner peace and serenity.
Let go of the clutter – Make your environment clean and organized.

Have you noticed how difficult it is to feel relaxed and peaceful in a place that is dirty and messy? It’s very unlikely that you will ever find serenity in the midst of chaos. A messy and cluttered home is a red flag and a sign of a disorganized and unstable mind. If you want serenity to become an integral part of your life, then start with you room and your home. Keep them neat, clean and pleasant to look at. What you want is enjoy being in your room because your surroundings are inviting, tidy and comfortable. You should always be able to feel at peace and relaxed in your home surroundings since that state of mind is indicative of how serene you feel inside.

Invite serenity in your life – Make the right choices.

The company you keep, the books you read, the TV shows and movies you watch, and of course social media, all play an important role in how you think and how you feel. Violence, whether physical or psychological, aggressiveness and negativity will affect you negatively, bring you down, make you feel anxious or even depressed. That is the exact opposite of feeling serene and peaceful. If you want serenity to be part of your life, then you’re going to have to rethink who and what you surround yourself with. Your mind will only find peace, quiet and serenity if you feed it those very same things. This means you may want to let go of the pessimistic and toxic people in your life, of violent and negative TV entertainment and books, and most definitely of some of the social media that’s out there and that can be mean, cruel, spiteful, degrading and even sometimes plain hateful. Be aware, and choose not to spend your free time feeding your mind with garbage just because it’s popular and that everybody else does it.

Ponder on this for a while, and then choose wisely.

Cultivate Hope

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

It is said that, “where there is life, there is hope.” Such an accurate quote. Whereas most positive emotions will arise when we tend to feel safe, hope will actually show up when challenging events, uncertainty, and unpredictability strike. Contrary to what we may think, hope does not involve adopting a passive stance in the face of adversity, but instead taking a very active one, indeed. It implies having specific goals and a strong desire and plan to reach them.

Hope is a powerful antidote against despair because it helps you focus on the energy you need to cope with life’s challenges, and thus create the best possible life for yourself and others.

We all know how life can be challenging at times, so challenging indeed that we need to go very deep inside of us to find the strength we need to get us through those times of darkness and uncertainty. In those moments, it can be tempting to just curl up in a ball under the covers, cry, and feel sorry for ourselves. But how is that going to help? It certainly will not give us the strength we need to get through hard times. Strength is born of a whole different kind of attitude such as that of being hopeful. Hope allows us to project ourselves in the future in a positive manner so we can envision our life once the storm has passed. Hope is the very foundation of our survival in times of hardship. It helps us not fall into unhealthy ways of coping and gives us the inner resources to progress rather than regress.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Practice mindfulness and meditation.

In times of hardship and uncertainty, our brain generates all kinds of questions and worries. We can easily be overwhelmed with a multitude of why? how? what? and when? questions that make us feel stuck in our heads and rob us of our serenity and inner peace. Moreover, it makes it very hard for us to find a way out of difficult times when our mind feels that chaotic. Mindfulness and the practice of meditation are incredible tools that allow the mind to take a pause, calm down and return to the present moment. Meditation has this amazing capacity to quiet the mind and tame our thoughts so we can slow down, relax and maintain a sense of calm. When calmness is restored, it becomes a lot easier to think clearly and efficiently about potential solutions to the problems we are facing. This gives us the sense of hope we need to find the strength to overcome the adversity we may encounter.

Spend your time and energy on the things you can change.

Like the rest of us, you probably wish you had control over your life and its circumstances, especially when you’re facing challenging times. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Recognizing and, most importantly, accepting that many things are out of your control can help you gain a sense of peace because this kind of awareness will help you focus on the essential – what you can actually change as opposed to what you cannot change. There are plenty of things you can change and that will uplift you, make you feel more positive and give you a sense of hope in which you will tap to build the strength you need to cope with hardships.

  • Among the things you can change is how well you take care of yourself physically and emotionally, how healthy your diet is (healthy food will give you strength and will boost your energy), how well you take care of your mind with healthy practices such as mindfulness and meditation. By focusing on what you can change, you can change how you choose to overcome adversity.
Seek the company of people who make you feel good and who empower you.

Stay closely connected to and engaged with the people whose company uplifts you and makes you feel you can tackle the difficulties that may come your way. Whether those people are close friends or family members, try to spend as much time with them as possible even if you don’t really feel like to. When going through hard times, you may have the tendency to withdraw, isolate and even push people away. You must become aware of that tendency, resist it and fight it. The more isolated you are, the more helpless and “hope-less” you might feel. For hope to grow and give you the strength and resilience you need to overcome obstacles you may encounter, you have to make an effort and reach out to the people you care about and who will be there to love you and support you.

Cultivate Courage

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

What is courage? Some of the most famous philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle referred to courage as being a virtue, a quality of the soul, an inner attitude that can be cultivated and shaped at will. It’s very important, however, to understand that courage doesn’t mean being fearless, not even remotely. Courage is about finding within yourself the motivation to take action despite the fear you may feel. It’s about facing and understanding what you’re afraid of, and then choosing to not let that fear dictate what you can or cannot do.

Being courageous is about taking chances, stepping outside your comfort zone, achieving your dreams in spite of obstacles, and creating the life you want for yourself.

Courage is a state of mind crucial to building a fulfilling and successful life for yourself. Yet, like any other positive emotion, it will require work, effort and determination to cultivate to make it a part of your life because it will demand of you to conquer one of your most dreaded emotions – fear.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Identify your strengths and talents.

Cultivating courage requires you to be aware of your strengths and talents as these will prove to be very useful when you decide to take chances and overcome obstacles in order to achieve your goals and dreams. Identify, acknowledge and be proud of your strengths. If you need a little bit of help to identify your talents, make a list of them. Think of what you love and are good at doing. Think of your achievements and your successes and recognize those skills and strengths of yours that made those accomplishments possible. Once you’ve identified your strengths, make sure to capitalize on them by using them as often as possible in order to help them grow and develop.

Do something that scares you every day.

Some of our greatest leaders certainly knew a thing or two about courage, and their advice on the subject can prove to be valuable. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Do one thing that scares you each day.” There is great value and wisdom in this quote when it comes to cultivating courage. Courage is about facing and overcoming your fears and what better way to do this than by taking on the challenge of doing one thing that scares you every day. If you’re not quite sure how to make this happen, just follow those simple steps:

Come up with a list of things that scare you.

It can be anything from trying a new food, talking to someone new you’d like to know better, asking that person on a date, applying for a summer job, to accepting doing a challenging solo at your dance competition, and so much more.

Start with small fears.

Make sure to begin with things that cause you low levels of fear and anxiety. If you start too big you might not get the results you’re hoping for and, as a result, you may become discouraged. Facing small fears to begin with will lead to small wins which will build your confidence to keep going. With time, your courage will grow and bring you the motivation you need to tackle bigger fears.

Make a list of specific daily actions.

Come up with a list of daily things you can do that will force you out of your comfort zone. Assign to each action a specific date and time, and plan as many details as possible of how you will carry out this action. Such planning will help you stay on track and focused on the task at hand in case you become overly anxious or afraid.

  • Keep a daily journal in which you will write about what you did that day that scared you, how you handled it, managed it, how you felt about the experience and, most importantly, what you learned from it about courage.
Don’t give up when the going gets tough.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy. It takes courage, for sure, but it doesn’t mean your efforts will necessarily be rewarded with success. Courage is also about accepting the possibility that you might fail or make mistakes. If you are constantly afraid of making mistakes, you will end up not wanting to even try. Your way out of this bind is to change the way you may be looking at failure and mistakes. Have you ever tried to see failure as a unique opportunity to learn about yourself and about a situation? Have you ever considered that failure can be a powerful teacher that shows you how to grow better and stronger as a human being? Such a novel perspective on life will give you the determination to persevere in the face of adversity, and that is true courage.

Cultivate Satisfaction

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Do you already have a ton of things on your, “My Life to-do list?” Good, then make sure to add another one on it: “Feel satisfied.” You deserve to experience satisfaction and the sense of joy that comes with it. Feeling satisfied about your life will not only make you a lot more resilient in the face of stress, but it will also give your life meaning and a sense of purpose. Feeling satisfied is a gift that comes from the ability to be grateful for all the things you have and that are good in your life. Cultivating satisfaction will give you the precious capacity to feel happy in a sustained and long-lasting manner.

Life satisfaction is how we evaluate the quality of our life and how happy and satisfied we are with it. Therefore, life satisfaction and happiness are closely tied together. Since life satisfaction will have an impact on how happy you feel with your life, it’s important that you find constructive ways to cultivate it.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Give gratitude a prominent place in your life.

The ability to be grateful and thankful for the people and the things that make us feel good and happy in our life is truly powerful. Research on practicing gratitude shows that it increases positive emotions and reduces negative ones. Being thankful can help you focus your attention on the positive things in your life while letting go of what bothers you. This doesn’t mean that practicing gratitude will make all your problems disappear and make your life blissful. However, by increasing how satisfied you are with your life in general, you will approach challenging times in a different, more positive and constructive way.

  • A great way for you to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal in which, every evening, you list two or three good things that happened to you on that day and for which you feel appreciative. It doesn’t have to be big things. In fact, it’s essential that you learn to become thankful for those things that you usually take for granted such as the mere fact that you’re alive, that you’re safe and healthy, that you have food on your table and that there are people who love you and care deeply about you.
Cherish your relationships with the people you love.

Were you aware that research shows that people who cherish and nurture positive relationships experience a much higher sense of well-being, happiness and life satisfaction than people who don’t? We are social beings who thrive on quality relationships that nourish our mind, body and soul. High quality relationships uplift us and make us feel good, which leads to better physical and mental health. They also bring us closeness and a very precious support system in times of crisis. But like most things in life, excellent quality relationships take time and effort to develop and sustain. It’s up to you to put in the work that will bring beautiful relationships into your life and keep them there. The work it takes is not complicated but it requires consistency on your part.

Here are a few ideas on how to work on cultivating high quality relationships:

  • Get in touch, be in touch, and stay in touch.
    Connect or reconnect with the people who matter to you. Once you’ve connected, make sure to keep that connection going not just today, but also tomorrow, next week and on a very regular basis after that. Relationships grow strong and beautiful when you take care of them and nourish them in a consistent manner.
  • Cultivate depth and meaningfulness in the way you communicate.
    Don’t stay on the surface when you relate to the people you love. You cannot expect a high-quality relationship to be born of a superficial connection. If you know you can trust the other person, then be honest with them, be yourself, your real self. Talk about your real feelings, your dreams, your hopes, but also your fears, your doubts and your insecurities. If you cannot be your true self with another person, chances are that your relationship will remain as superficial as your conversations and interactions with them.
Seek out the company of people who are happy and satisfied with their life.

Research has shown consistently that the energy and state of mind of people you surround yourself with will affect you and rub off on you. If you hang out with negative and pessimistic people you will come out of interactions with them feeling more negative and pessimistic yourself. The good news is that the opposite is also true. Being around positive and optimistic people will impact you in a positive manner. This means that surrounding yourself with people who experience healthy levels of life satisfaction will most likely increase the sense of happiness and satisfaction you have with your own life.

Welcome mindfulness into your life.

Practicing mindfulness comes with a whole range of benefits that have the power to improve your life in many ways. Increasing your levels of life satisfaction is one of them. Mindfulness activities will teach you how to live well-grounded in the present moment instead of in your head where your thoughts may be chaotically running the show. Not only will it help calm down your mind, clear your head and by doing so reduce stress and anxiety, but it will also show you how to become aware of what goes on inside and outside of you. This, in turn, will help you offset your mind’s tendency to focus on intrusive negative thoughts by becoming more aware of positive events and circumstances, and that is the very foundation of life satisfaction.

Cultivate Inspiration & Awe

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

The emotional experience of inspiration and awe is beyond compare. It has the power to enhance everything around you in so many ways. It turns the ordinary into extraordinary, and it makes life more colorful and tastier by filling it with micro moments of pure joy and happiness. Such an emotional experience relies on your aptitude to find, recognize, enjoy, and marvel at beauty in all its shapes and forms. Let that beauty touch you and move you at the very core of your being. Now THAT, my friend, is happiness in its purest and most enduring form.

Given all the benefits associated with experiencing an awe-inspired life such as increased life satisfaction, better health, joy and contentment, it seems that taking the time to cultivate inspiration and awe in your life should be regarded as a priority.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Take awe walks in nature.

Walking in nature will give you plenty of opportunities to experience awe. Research shows that nature excursions give us a chance to expand, quite considerably, our frame of reference and connect with things much greater than us.

For example, in one study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley, Paul Piff (Paul Piff et al. 2015) asked a random sample of participants to stare for one minute at towering eucalyptus trees while another group stared at a tall building. The results of the study showed that those who stared at the trees felt more awe and were more likely to help a person in need, showed greater ethical decision-making and reported less superiority to others. So, go out there and don’t hesitate to look at the natural beauty of a mountain, a lake, the ocean, wild animals, a sunset, or a moonrise. They will all fill you with awe if you just let them.

Keep an awe journal.

If you want to keep your awe-filled experiences alive and vivid in your mind, try keeping an awe journal. Recording your awe-inspiring experiences and writing about how they made you feel and what they’ve taught you about yourself and the world around you can be very powerful and soul transforming. Make sure to write about your experiences in great detail so when you read about them again you feel like you’re experiencing those awe-filled moments all over again and with pretty much the same intensity. Don’t hesitate to include photos and objects that will add visual stimuli to your writings. After a while, you might be surprised to realize that the more you record your awe-inspiring moments, the more they will bring you a sense of well-being and inner peace, and the more eager you will become to go out there and experience new ones. Welcoming awe into your life will feed your spirit and your soul in ways you may not even fathom.

Watch awe-inspiring movies and videos.

If for some reason you are not able to go for walks in nature, there are other ways for you to have awe-inspiring experiences right in the comfort of your home. Nowadays, the internet offers many options such as YouTube or Netflix where you can find movies, videos and documentaries capable of inspiring you and uplifting you.

  • One of the videos presented in the Awe Video Practice will astonish you with its majestic shots from Yosemite National Park.
  • National Geographic will also provide you with awe-filled experiences on YouTube or on the National Geographic Channel.
  • Look up lists of “Best Nature Documentaries” on Netflix. You will find plenty of them that will nourish your cravings for natural beauty.
  • Finally, if you really want to have your mind blown away by beauty in its purest form, check out the work of a French photographer named Yann Arthus-Bertrand renowned for his breathtaking videos made in different regions of the world. With Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s videos, you’re in for a unique experience that will stay with you, always. Check out: