Chances are, you know a sour apple or two in your life. Maybe it’s a co-worker that can’t seem to appreciate any of her opportunities and is constantly bringing you and your other colleagues down. Maybe it’s a friend who pays little attention to the positive side of things and is constantly complaining about her deal in life. Maybe it’s family member who starts pointless drama and picks fights for no reason. In any case, I’m guessing that we all know someone who needs a little lightening up. Maybe it’s even you! Funny thing is, I’d say that I was born as a sour apple. My mother recently shared with me that moments after holding me for the first time, I slapped her straight across and face and through my dark little eyes, I relayed the message, “Mom, you are NOT the boss of me!” Ay Caramba. Luckily though, we all have the power to grow and better ourselves, and I’m sure we can all use a little refresher every now and then on how to lighten up and stop taking ourselves, and life itself, so seriously all of the time. Here are a few tips to help you let go of your sour-apple attitude and more often enjoy the sweetness that life has to offer:
1. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes, to totally screw something up, or say the wrong thing every now and then. We are human — this is how we grow. You should be going through life enjoying yourself to the fullest, instead of stressing because you set too high of expectations for yourself or because put a grand amount of pressure on yourself to be “perfect.” Learn to lighten up and remember that world is probably not going to end because you made a mistake. Let your mishaps build you, not break you.
2. Be grateful. Gratitude truly is the best attitude. Instead of being weighed down by useless complaints, negative thoughts, and harsh judgments toward yourself and others, practice the art of appreciation. Instead of tallying your troubles, work on count your blessings. This may not come easy to you, especially if you have programmed your mind to think negatively, but have faith that the effort you put into shifting your thoughts will be entirely worth it. I think you’ll find that what you put emphasis on grows and that being grateful will pull you into the light when you’re feeling dark.
3. Release harbored anger. It’s hard to feel light and happy-go-lucky when you’re carrying around heavy, dead-weight anger or resentment on your shoulders. While sometimes a struggle, practicing compassion and forgiveness can feel quite liberating, benefiting your happiness and well-being alike. Once you work toward accepting your past for what it is (something you can no longer control, but can learn and benefit from), you’ll feel more ready to move forward with your life, no longer allowing others to weigh you down or hold you back. Like all shifts to your mindset, releasing harbored anger will take time, practice, and a commitment to personal growth.
4. Let go of what you can’t change. We need to find a balance between learning to control what we can and letting go of what we cannot. Holding onto something out of your control (the past, other’s words/actions/feelings, certain life events, etc.) will leave you feeling frustrated, anxious, and unhappy. Loosening your grip on life doesn’t mean you don’t care or that you’re giving up, it means trusting that you will be okay however the events unfold. Is this easy? Not always. Can you make a conscious effort to work on this? Absolutely.
5. Practice optimism. When you are trying to adopt a more optimistic approach to life, it’s important to pay attention to the thoughts you have during a typical day. Do you find yourself stressing over the little things that don’t matter (what other people think of you, other people’s bad choices, comparing yourself to others, etc.)? Do you find yourself complaining over the little things you cannot control (traffic, the weather, other’s words or actions, etc.)? When you pay close attention to your thoughts, you can start creating the type of thoughts that you produce. Even if a negative thought does manage to seep out (this happens to even the most positive of people) you can combat it immediately with a more constructive, uplifting thought. Make an effort to look toward your future with hope, excitement, and optimism. Dreading, dwelling, or stressing over what’s yet to come will only hold you back from enjoying the present moment.
Ultimately, the choice is yours and the power is within you. Do you want to be a sweet peach in life or a sour apple? Lighten up, laugh a little, and make the most out of each and every day. May you take joy, optimism, and gratitude with you wherever you go today and feel free to revel in the sweetness of life.
Happy soaking up the sweetness,