Have you ever known a body builder? When they are training for a competition, their bodies are at their best. They’re at their leanest, as they’ve dieted down to muscle striations at their peak visibility. However, these professional athletes don’t always look the way that they do before a competition. During their “off season” they are rarely lean. This doesn’t mean that they’re not in shape; they’re just not as shredded as they usually are during a competition, and they generally eat whatever they want. Needless to say, their six packs go out the window. But bodybuilders are so disciplined that they always rediscover the rip.
While not to the extreme of bodybuilders, all of us need to maintain muscle definition as part of our routine for a healthy body. The same applies to our way of thinking, as the brain is the most important muscle we have. When someone says, “change your attitude” that’s not necessarily turning a light switch on or off. While some people are capable of flipping their emotions and feelings in the blink of an eye, some of us are not so “quick on the draw.” You might be a self-help junky like me, who loves a good pep talk, an audiobook, podcast, or you prefer the old hardback. You’ve read all of Dr. Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins books or listened to their audio series. And Eckhart Tolle is practically a modern day prophet, in your opinion, one who has the most brilliant mantras to live by. You are that person who jumped on The Secret bandwagon and found its lessons on how to manifest the good things in life to be a life changer.
But, after the “honeymoon” phase has worn off, keeping the pep in your step isn’t so easy. Envisioning your way into a smaller dress, cutting out pictures for your “vision board” and repeating a mantra to dispel the blah feelings is a lot of work. It may begin to feel like hocus-pocus, and you soon give up yet another fad. Hey, I am a fan of self-help and interpersonal change, the motivational movement that encourages individuals to take ownership of the direction in their lives. But, like with exercise and dieting, there are many plans that do work. You can juice, go vegan, become a pescatarian, go raw, turn to the Adkins diet, or become paleo. All of these diets or ways of eating all have their benefits and not all work for everyone. It’s exactly the same when it comes to finding what perks you up and remember— no one can be cheery 24/7.
There’s a time to kick yourself into gear and a time to lay off. Sometimes you need to be kind to yourself; maybe that’s the first step towards flexing that positive attitude. It’s very similar to developing muscle strength and definition. You have to remember that it’s a lot easier to dwell on all that’s lacking in your life instead of appreciating what you do have.
There are tons of self-help literature out there. Most of them have worthy suggestions. At the end of the day, it’s about actually practicing the tools you have developed and, well, working at it. There’s not a magic formula for happiness. Even with psychotropic medication, there’s yet to be a formula perfected that can make a person perfectly happy all the time. It’s like that movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper. It would be great if we could pop a pill and suddenly be happier, more successful, smarter, and able solve all of the world’s problems.
Limitless is a movie, it’s a great flick, but it’s just that. Science is evolving to the degree that maybe one day this concept could become a reality. Until then, we have to start with the basics.
Remember, only you have control over your attitude, and no one else can turn your frown upside down. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to have a bad day if you are having a bad day. Fighting negative feelings is counter productive and not healthy. But, once you have allowed yourself time to work through those feelings, don’t remain stuck in negative gear.
Flex your positive attitude muscle, work on that smile and focus on what you do have. Just like building muscle strength, eventually your positive outlook will grow stronger. With enough practice, having a great attitude and perspective, no matter what you face, will get easier and easier.