Life is all about the little things. It is the little things in life that make us the happiest, but it is also the little things in life that make us the saddest. There are so many times during college when the stress, burdens and negative energy will become almost too much to bear, but nothing is ever bad enough that you cannot remain positive. Psychologists often study what makes people happy and how people stay positive, but just because it is a scientific study does not mean it is complicated. There are so many minor things that you can do throughout the day or the week to stay positive when it seems like everything is going wrong.
Someone once told me “smile, happy looks good on you.” I think about this quote a lot when I am feeling down. Studies have proven that smiling actually tricks your mind into being happier than you are. This study from The Huffington Post explains how smiling triggers stress-reduction hormones. It also explains how smiling is a ripple effect called the facial-feedback hypothesis - if you smile, others are more likely to smile too, making for a more positive energy throughout campus. Your brain listens to what your body is doing, so if your body is acting happy, your brain will be happy as well.
2. Imagine the advice you would give to a friend
If you were to give a friend who was feeling negative any advice, what would you say? You would tell them not to dwell on the little things, to live in the moment and not worry about the future. So, if you can imagine this advice that you yourself believe another person will benefit from, you are more likely to apply it to your own life. This is one of the many ways you can avoid negative thinking, according to Mental Health of America. It is a simple way of thinking and putting your problem in the perspective of another person, that way you can try and analyze the situation from an outside perspective. You will soon see, it is not as bad as you think.
3. Write about a positive future
Physically write down the hopes you have for your future. This is one of the Mental Health of America's ways to exhibit optimism. Actually writing down the aspects of a positive future will help you to remember positivity. Just like taking notes to remember information given in a class, writing will imprint the ideas you need in your mind. This is a great way to foster your ideas about positivity, to be creative, to de-stress and to see how things will work out in the future.
4. Practice Gratitude
Over the course of the research I was doing for this article, two articles, one from The Huffington Post and one from The Guardian, both mentioned this key to happiness: practice gratitude. What these studies show is that people are happier when they appreciate the little things. If you focus on what you don’t have or compare what you have to others you will never be positive; especially in college, you must focus on you. Appreciate the cup of coffee you got on your way to class or the way that the rain sounds because it will help your mood overall.
5. Find Nature
You may feel trapped within your dorm room or become bored of seeing the same buildings on the same walks to class every morning, but college campuses are actually filled with many beautiful, calm and natural areas. According to this article, nature decreases stress, makes you feel happier overall, increases creativity, helps inspire kindness and makes you feel alive. Nature can remind you of the true, pure, beautiful things in life and in this world. Explore your campus. Get out of your dorm and find the hidden paths or rivers on campus, or just go and sit on the grass. The outside air will clear your mind and increase your happiness levels.
You choose how you feel. If you choose to dwell on the negative things in life, your emotions will follow. But if you choose happiness and you choose to do these little things, you will be a much more positive person overall. The one thing that people love about all college campuses is the positive vibes they get from the others on campus. Radiating positivity is the best way to stay productive and succeed academically, socially, emotionally and mentally during the college years. Remember, it’s always good to smile.
Editor's Note: This article focuses specifically on how to improve mood and keep a positive attitude. If you are depressed or showing signs of depression, you should seek professional help.