I have always considered myself to be a generally positive person. I prefer to handle situations with humor (to the point of constantly deflecting how I actually feel with jokes — this has been a big hit in all of my relationships!) and try to maintain an upbeat mood whenever possible. As a result, I’m pretty good at pulling myself out of any weird funk I may fall into. Yet if I’m aiming to be so positive, why do I still fall into these moods? What causes the majority of my negative thought patterns?
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Despite my attempts at cheerfulness, there was a daily habit I’d never given much consideration: venting. Whether I’d finished an afternoon of classes, a stressful day at my office job, or a difficult commute, I would immediately end the day by venting my frustrations. Usually this took the form of a long chat recounting each painstaking detail to my roommate or significant other. I’d always considered this a healthy routine; a way to let out my frustrations with those I trusted most in order to process my daily experiences. But is that really what I was doing? What I hadn’t realized was that by overindulging in this behavior, I was in fact feeding the negativity, giving it an even greater presence in my life. Once I made the effort to stop rehashing my everyday difficulties, I saw improvements to my life I never realized I’d been unconsciously preventing.
1. I embraced the present
You know what happens when you stop dwelling on something? You let it go! I never realized I’d been prolonging my own misery by discussing frustrating events even after they’d ended. Rather than dragging myself through my own emotional response again and again by venting, I found that calmly stating what had occurred and dropping the subject afterwards gave me a far better perspective on it. Suddenly, I could see that the events were something of the past which I could not change now, and I accepted that. Whatever happened, happened. I was not living those moments currently. Why dwell on something when nothing could be done to change it? It suddenly seemed far more logical to embrace the present moment and enjoy it.
2. There was more time for myself
I won’t deny that being half Italian and coming from a performance background leads me to be quite… theatrical. By the time I’d very animatedly recounted (read: acted out a full scene study) of my day, I’d already lost the beginning of my night! Sparing everyone around me this experience not only preserved my acting reputation, but allowed me to maximize my time and jump into the next part of my evening right away! Once I’d adopted this new approach I even signed up for yoga classes. Rather than discussing my day, I’d simply throw myself into downward dog straight from the office, Still feeling tempted to complain about Ian from HR? Time to try hot yoga.
3. I noticed the good
When you stop dwelling on all the bad parts of your day, it’s amazing how you start to recognize the good things that have happened! Just as often as there are small moments of frustration, there are so many small victories we rarely give as much attention to as we should. Did you get a great email? Score the last parking spot? Your Amazon delivery came a day early? (Bliss!) Celebrate it!
4. My conversations turned uplifting
As much as I know my friends will be the first to commiserate with me, I think we can all agree that bonding through uplifting conversation fuels far healthier relationships. And once I stopped venting, I noticed those around me did too. With just one positive voice in the conversation, everyone becomes inspired to share their successes and joys. My chats with friends turned into opportunities for us to offer fresh perspectives and lift each other up with positivity, support, and encouragement.
5. I became optimistic
Stemming from that, I found I became a lot more optimistic in every aspect of my life! When my brain had previously spent so much time focusing on the negative side of things, I felt constantly defeated. Now, I saw each moment as an opportunity, unburdened by the past. I could leave old experiences behind me and move forward with my day, embracing the present with a positive outlook and hopeful expectations. Tapping into this optimism left me feeling calmer, more satisfied with my daily life, and more excited for the future.