It’s easy to live an energetic life when everything is going your way. But how do we live a thriving life when things aren’t going the way we planned?

Life is hard.

As “life” wears on us,  we start to get tired: mentally tired, emotionally tired, tired of work, tired of schedules, just plain tired.

Since we’re only human, we get cranky when we’re tired.

And when we get cranky, we start to focus on the negatives in life.

At this point, you have two choices: you can either pull yourself out of whatever funk you’re in and live vibrantly, or you can allow yourself to wallow in that low feeling, where you gain nothing, but you sure do waste a lot of energy and good days.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.
—Helen Keller

Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s focus on the positive, and seek to remember one powerful fact: our happiness is a choice.

We have the power to choose to live a vibrant life despite the fact that things don’t always go our way. We may not have everything we want or think that we need, yet we can choose to be happy with what we do have, and live life to the fullest.

When we commit to changing our outlook, a radical shift occurs. The lows feel less low, and the mundane starts to take a turn for the more exciting. We begin to understand that agonizing over the past that we’d like to change or trying to alter the future that we can’t predict gets us nowhere, and instead we start to find joy and appreciation in times when we felt all could be lost.

So what can you do today to start living a life of vibrancy? Here are a few of my own favorite tricks for climbing out of the daily grind:

1. Gratitude

Think about everything in your life that is good.

Start with the basics:

Do you have a roof over your head?

Do you have food to eat every day?

Do you have clothes to wear?

Then move on to things that are more personal:

Maybe you have children who are the light of your life.

Maybe you’re dating or married to someone who treats you like royalty.

Maybe you have the good fortune of a job that you love, or maybe…

…you have your health: mine isn’t perfect, but it sure is a whole heck of a lot better than it was ten years ago – and for that, I am grateful.

2. Spend time with loved ones

Family—and close friends who might as well be family—have a profound effect on boosting your mood. If family time isn’t a fit for you, you can get the same “warm glow” from volunteering, so hook up with an organization whose work is meaningful to you and spend some time helping others instead.

3. Focus on what matters

Ask yourself: “Is this life-changing? Will this have any significant impact on my goals for this life?” If the answer is no, move on. Don’t bother dwelling on things that upset you. Your mind has more important things to do. See tip #5 for an extension on this.

4. Feel the happiness of savoring little things

Here are my top three:

1. A pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Any pint will do.

2. Soaking up the sun, drinking a frosty beer at The Phoenix Brewing Co in the company of my husband and friends.

Bonus: Vitamin D, good for your mood and your energy. (It should be noted here that the Vitamin D comes from the sun, not the beer… drinking beer solely to get vitamins may actually have the opposite effect.)

3. Loving on my dog Juno. I think she likes a long hug as much as I do – I do squeeze her pretty tight, so she may just be stuck in it. It feels good nonetheless.

5. Mindfulness, pure and simple

Catch yourself in those negative moments, and change the subject or change the tone. Learn to become aware of yourself and the thoughts that you’re thinking. You might be surprised at how often you’re weighing yourself down with subconscious negativity.

Yes, life is hard. But there’s good news, too: we are in control of our own selves and the way that we view the world. We soldier on through the tough times, and learn to embrace the good in this world. When we do that, taking nothing for granted, we are able to live our most vibrant lives.

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