I'll be the first to admit that being a teenager is HARD.
Navigating high school is HARD.
Building solid friendships (that don't break up every 3rd day) is HARD.
Working out what you want to do with your life is HARD.
Accepting yourself exactly as you are is HARD.
Dealing with constant change is HARD.
But there are plenty of things that are incredible about being a teenager, too.
We just have to notice them.
When we do, everything changes.
If someone asked me, "What are three things you remember most about high school?" I'd probably answer:
Having loads of friends but always walking on eggshells around them, because you never know when they'll ignore you for no reason.
Wearing long pants in summer because I decided my legs were hideous and I could never ever show them in public again.
Being bullied by the girl who stole my phone, because I accused her of stealing my phone... (how dare I).
Then, I stop myself. Why is it that the first things that come to mind are the negatives? There were probably far more positives than negatives in my day-to-day life, but I never stopped to appreciate them. Sitting here, purposely thinking of all the great things that happened, all of a sudden I'm bombarded by amazing memories.
Sleep overs and playing 44 Home at the local park when the sun went down.
Doing art lessons a few times a week, and loving it.
The school balls.
Seeing my friends every single day.
The butterflies I got when the guy I liked had a chat with me.
Senior sports carnivals.
Chilling with my friends in Home Room every morning.
The list could go on forever...
There is so much GOOD in every day, but we don't realise it unless we have trained our brains to.
There is so much GOOD to look back on, but we don't realise it unless we have trained our brains to.
There is so much GOOD to look forward to, but we don't realise it unless we have trained our brains to.
The GOOD is already there. The GOOD was there all along. And, the GOOD will be there in the future.
It's time to start training our brains to recognise it.
How? By creating habits that will increase our Positive Emotions.
What are positive emotions?
They’re all the ‘good feels’. Positive emotions include joy, hope, contentment, excitement, interest, enthusiasm, confidence, gratitude, serenity, and general happiness! When we boost our positive emotions in the morning, it helps us to learn better, build better relationships, control our emotions better, do things better, and feel better! Everything is… Better.
When we create habits to boost our positive emotions, we automatically become more aware of the positive emotions we feel throughout the day. When we are more aware of all the positive emotions we feel in a day, the whole day feels like more of a success.
Creating good habits means no positive emotion gets left behind! We are aware of, and appreciate, each and every one.
Habit 1: Gratitude Practice
I bang on about gratitude constantly. And I always will, so deal. Gratitude is the perfect way to start every day. I didn't even know gratitude was a thing when I was in high school. It wasn't until I was feeling at my absolute lowest in my early 20's that a friend introduced me to the concept and it literally changed my life. I'm not being dramatic, but it legit DID.
Gratitude is about appreciating the people, places, and things you have in your life. You can introduce a gratitude habit into your life by finding three things to be grateful for when you wake up. You should write them down - that's the best way.
Your sentences should be structured something like this:
I am so grateful for Andrew for making me breakfast every morning. It saves me so much time and makes me feel loved and cared for.
I am so grateful for clean, running water for allowing me to shower, wash my clothes, and drink clean water.
But… writing it down isn’t enough! You need to read out your sentences, say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you!’ at the end of each one, and truly feel appreciation for the things you wrote down. You should get shivers down your spine!
Remember, most people in our world wish they had what we have. We are so incredibly lucky to be using the internet right now, to have a roof over our heads, a warm bed to sleep in, education (to name just a few!).
Before long, you'll find more and more things to be grateful for. They'll pop out of nowhere when you're walking along, or you'll feel a burst of gratitude when someone does something you appreciate. Now, you recognise it.
Habit 2: Finding the GOOD
One of my favourite things to teach people is a little activity called, 'Three Good Things'. All you do, is sit down at the end of the day and write down three good things that happened. Even if they're miniscule. Even if a million bad things seemed to happen. There will ALWAYS be three good things to focus on.
I know how easy it is to get caught up being a Negative Nelly (or Nelson). Once one thing goes wrong in the day, everything else suddenly becomes unbearable too. That’s a WASTE of a day! No matter what crappy things happen in the day, there are ALWAYS good things that happen too. What we need to do, is start training our brain to recognise all of the good things, rather than only the bad.
Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative, because once up on a time, being aware of danger literally kept us alive. When we were cavemen, noticing the bad things that happened (and learning from all mistakes) could have been the difference between feeding the family for a week, or not eating for days at a time.
REVERSE THE NEGATIVE WIRING. Make it a habit to find three good things every single day, and all of a sudden, you'll be finding good things everywhere. All. The. Time.
Habit 3: Learn about YOU
I know we spend a huge chunk of time learning throughout high school, but I promise you, NOTHING is more important to learn about than YOU. Especially now. You're going through so many changes and soon you'll be spat out into the 'real world'. You might as well start learning about what makes you happy, what makes you sad, what your values are, what makes you amazing, what interests you, how you cope with adversity, and how to be better, now.
The more you understand the person you are, the better choices you'll make for yourself. The better people you'll attract. The less time you'll waste on doing the things that don't feel right to you. The more fun you'll have. The happier you'll be.
I know it might be a little overwhelming, but if you start small and commit to practicing gratitude, 'three good things', and learning one thing about you per day, then you'll quickly see results. You'll feel them. And you'll never want to go back!
If you need a little more guidance that includes ALL of the above, a great place to start is with the Happiness Journal, available now as a digital download for $12. It comes in 4 different designs for guys and girls. Great for adults, too, so get your parents on board ;)
When I look back on my teen years now, I know for a fact that they weren't anywhere NEAR as bad as I thought they were. They were great. I just hadn't trained my brain to realise how great they were.
Don't let yourselves get to [nearly] 30 before you realise how amazing those years really were. Make positive change NOW.
Love & Happiness
P.S Do you know someone who could really benefit from reading this? To give them the motivation and push they need to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of the young people around them? Share this post with them. Even if they don't embrace it straight away, you've done your part. Thank you.
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