Updated 2 months, 3 weeks ago

8 ways to make lemonade when life gives you lemons

Life. It can be tough. It’s easy, at times automatic, to look at the world with your glass half empty. Every day you’re challenged with deadlines, criticism and a relentless desire to do it all. It’s human nature to focus on what has gone wrong.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This popular saying is basically advising you to make the best of the negative situations in life. If you end up with something sour, like a lemon, try your best to find the deeper sweetness. This quote can be much easier said than done, however. Learn how to adopt a more optimistic attitude in the face of adversity. It’s easier than you may think.

1. Get your sleep: Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine found that people who don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep experience declining levels of optimism and sociability. On the other hand, when the amount of sleep increased, the same participants reported a dramatic improvement of symptoms when they returned to a normal sleep schedule. The take away? Prioritize your zz’s

2. Start a gratitude journal: Every day make it a priority to write down 3 things that you are grateful for. When you take time to mindfully recognize gifts, blessings, or things that have just gone well for you, your happiness set point can increase significantly. As your happiness set point increases, it will be easier and more automatic for you to extract the goodness out of each day and each situation that you are faced with.

3. Look for the lesson: You can glide more easily through life's bad situations when you use them as teachable moments for yourself. There is something you can learn from virtually every circumstance you encounter. This allows you to constructively cope with negative situations. You find the lesson and apply what you learned to the future. When you face a problem, think of it as a challenge that is strengthening you for later circumstances. Ask yourself, "what can I learn about this situation?" You can confidently leave this situation knowing that you will make a wiser, more-informed decision down the road.

4. Set an intention for each day: Take time to think of what your best future self looks like. Consider your goals, your dreams, and visualize everything working out for you. Set a small intention to work toward those goals every day. Hold the intention close to your heart as you move throughout your day, allowing it to ground you in times that you feel like your best self is getting away. This simple exercise can improve your mood and your outlook on what the future holds.

5. Reach out for social support: No matter what you are facing, you can find comfort in the knowledge that some other human being has been there, too. Whether you are dealing with financial troubles, a bad break up or recovering from a health problem--there's someone out there who understands your struggle. Connecting with such individuals can help you feel less alone. You can always turn to friends or family members during difficult life situations. However, don't hesitate to reach out further to religious leaders or counselors. You can even connect with people going through similar experiences as you on Meetups or online forums.

6. Become attuned to what your mind is telling you: Identify which thoughts are making you feel doom and gloom. Now, examine the thought; is it true? Really…get serious. Is it always true? If there is evidence (I bet there is!) that the thought isn’t always true, poke some holes in the story. Counter the thought with positivity and get as realistic as you can.

7. Surround yourself with optimistic people: You know that friend who is constantly talking about how life isn’t fair? Who is caught up in criticizing, judging, expecting the worst out of people? It’s time to create some distance. People duplicate the behaviors that they see in their environments. The more you surround yourself with people who view their lives with positive regard, the more you will as well. The benefits of optimism have been proven in multiple studies over the years. The University of Pennsylvania has found that increased optimism leads to a decrease in anxiety and depression. They also found that the more optimistic people are, the more successful they are. Optimists also report lower stress levels, stronger immune systems, and an overall decrease in physical health complaints.

8. Refrain from making comparisons. Holding your life and your accomplishments up against those of another is a bad habit that you need to break. Comparisons keep you feeling bad about yourself, because there will always be someone who is more attractive, richer, or more successful. Aim to stop idealizing and start humanizing. What this means is instead of looking from the outside and idealizing another person's life, you should realistically assume that this person also has faults and bad days. No human being is perfect. Accept that there is more to people than meets the eye, and you won't feel so bad about your own shortcomings.

So, what are you waiting for?

Grab those rosy colored shades and throw them on. As you can see, it’s not as hard as you think.

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