BY DAVID ZULBERG JANUARY 20, 2015 8:28 AM EST
Sometimes changing your physical circumstances isn’t possible — or not possible soon enough, or you may want a less drastic change, but you still want to be happier. You can’t get to a new job right away or you regularly bump into that friend who makes you feel badly, what options do you have left?
Change your perception, belief or opinion of the situation — and that will help you change your attitude.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said it beautifully more than 2,000 years ago: “People are disturbed, not by things (that happen to them), but by the principles and opinions which they form concerning (those) things. When we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles and opinions.”
Modern behavioral science agrees! American psychologist Albert Ellis, famous for developing rational emotive behavior therapy, explained that “how” people react to events is determined largely by their “view” of the events, not the events themselves.
Have no clue how to change your perception — and improve your attitude? Here are five easy ways to start:
1. Admit to yourself that you’re not happy.
You can’t change anything if you aren’t aware that something needs to be changed. Stop the cycle of wishing things were different and take control of your thoughts and reactions to events and people.
2. Realize optimism is a choice.
You are not born with a positive or negative attitude. It is something you become through your perspective of experiences. Very few situations are completely bad. Always try to come up with three to five positives of any challenging situation and write them down so you can remember them.
3. Use positive words.
Use statements like, “I am hopeful,” or, “We will find a resolution,” throughout the day. The words you use when you talk have a major impact on your attitude and emotional outlook.
4. Hang out with friends who have a happy vibe.
Try surrounding yourself with friends that exude positive energy. Pay attention to the words they use when they talk to you about their day. You will be amazed how simple it is to ascertain if they are a positive or negative influence.
5. Say a daily affirmation.
Find a quote that is meaningful to you and say it aloud every morning. “Something great is going to happen today,” sends your energy in an expectant and positive direction. I know it sounds a bit “Zen” and somewhat mystical, but it is actually a very simple and effective method for retraining your subconscious mind — and advocated by both ancient and scientific research.
So the next time you are faced with a challenging situation, remember these tips for molding your perception — and improving your attitude. You may not be able to change it, but you can certainly choose your mental and physical response to it. As time passes, you will notice a real shift in your attitude, and so will your friends and family!