Enjoying the Little Things
How to stay positive when it feels like everything is falling apart
By: Marley Richmond
Sometimes it seems like everything that could go wrong, does, and that the world is a dumpster fire of negativity and hardships. Sometimes this feeling comes from the media where calamity has become a commodity in the never-ending cycle of bad news. Sometimes, it comes from the people around us. Sometimes, it comes from inside our own brains. Chemical imbalances, current stressors, or feeling overwhelmed by the surrounding world can all affect our outlook on life, making it difficult to see the good in all that is going on. There is, however, so much positivity in the world waiting to be discovered and recognized. Here’s how to find it:
Seek out the Good
When days are long, cold, and full of head-hurting amounts of school work, it can be easy to feel down and then to (often unconsciously) seek out further negativity to fit one’s mood. Challenge yourself to fight that instinct and find a more optimistic outlook. Listen to your favorite song, look up wholesome memes, text your friend a picture of a cute dog, or, better yet, go for a walk where you will likely see some pups! Self-care can mean a wide variety of things. Learn what works best for you and what you need in order to cultivate a positive environment. Don’t be afraid to take a break from school or work and give yourself a little love on stressful days.
If current events bring you down, search for good news! Media often highlights hardships and conflict, but there is hopeful and bright news out there too, even if it isn’t trending. One example is the Good News Network which highlights inspirational and positive stories.
Let Go and Say No
In other words, “Marie Kondo” your life; allow yourself to move on from commitments and relationships which do not spark joy. This isn’t to say that you should avoid all challenges or only hang out with your most laid-back friends. However, it is important to recognize responsibilities that drain you significantly more than they positively impact your life. Allow yourself to say no to added pressures when you have enough (let’s be real, too much) on your plate; this will allow you to spend more time and energy on your passions. In addition, learning to support your friends while you take care of yourself is a difficult but important balance to find. As they say, put on your own life vest before helping others; you can’t save someone else while you’re drowning.
Make a Difference
Brightening others’ days can be an easy way to share good vibes and receive some positivity in return. One simple way to do this is through compliments or sharing what you like about those around you. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to ask a friend what positives theysee in order to broaden your own perspective. Try asking your friends about what made them smile today or what was the highlight of their week. This can spark a hopeful conversation about the things you both enjoyed and can help you reflect on your own experiences, finding a silver lining while reveling in the joy of others.
Volunteering can be another way to make a positive impact by giving back to your community. Offering a helping hand can boost self-esteem and make you feel hopeful and valuable. The University’s Center for Community-Engaged Learning can provide information and connections to a cause you value . Even if you lack the time to volunteer regularly, finding time to help others can be as easy as asking how you can help out.
Ask for Help
In the end, however, finding and creating joy in everyday life isn’t always easy. Mental health concerns can make it difficult or impossible to just “look at the bright side.” If this feels like the case, professional help can be an important step towards finding happiness. Here at the U, Student Counseling Services and Boynton Health are accessible resources for students who need additional support. Remember that asking for help makes you brave, not weak and that no matter what, the good and the positive can always be found even in the midst of the most difficult times.