I’d like to be an optimist, please!

Photo by Alyssa Ashton


Today, my editor Simone and I had a moment. We were in the office kitchen, commiserating over the current problems in our lives. I was late to work because I missed my bus and then got stuck in traffic. Simone is dealing with renovation issues, which don’t sound fun.

And as we complained over our chai teas, I shared with Simone something I do when I find myself upset about something bad in my life–I try to focus on the good things.

It seems easy, but really, focusing on the good can be tough – especially in a world where negativity surrounds us everywhere. In fact, I often find myself spending hours, sometimes even days, obsessing over some horrible thing that happened. And somehow, in these moments of freaking out, I forget all about the great things I have in my life.

So lately, I’ve made a conscious effort to focus on the good. Whenever something nice happens to me, I write it down on a post-it-note and stick it in a ‘happy jar.’

They’re the little things. Nothing earth shattering – just simple, everyday things. My friend Maddy told me I have Jennifer Aniston hair, even though I don’t, but who doesn’t enjoy being compared to everybody’s favourite friend? My dog snuggled up with me in bed and it warmed my heart. I had a great family dinner on the weekend, full of chicken wings and laughter. I took note of all these moments and put them in my jar. And really, I make an effort to write down anything that has made me smile.

On days like today, when I find I’m focusing on something unhappy, I break out my jar of good thoughts. It reminds me of all the awesome things I have in my life, like my Jen Aniston hair. More importantly, it makes me realize how small my problems are in the big scheme of things. Yes, I was late to work. So what? I should be looking at all the good things that have happened to me today – most notably, tea with my editor. It really doesn’t take much to stop yourself from wallowing in the negative and instead, embracing the positive.

The Canadian Living web editors rounded up three of their favourite uplifting sites. So when you find yourself upset, you can look at these sites for a pick-me-up, or for a smile.

1.The Optimism Revolution
This Facebook page (and twitter account) is full of inspirational quotes. That may sound hokey, but the quotes are actually quite uplifting. My current favourite? “Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order,” said Samuel Beckett. That’s why I’m currently watching Lena Dunham dance to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” I don’t even watch the show, Girls, but this scene makes me feel like I can do anything. Plus, it makes me start dancing despite the fact that I’m in the office and lack any form of rhythm. And it feels good!

This site is a collection of all the things that make people happy – it’s the Internet version of my ‘happy jar.’ And what’s amazing about this site is that it focuses on the little things that make life better – like an 8 a.m. meeting being cancelled, or getting to wear new rain boots because of a storm. It’s great to celebrate the big achievements in life, like a promotion or a new relationship, but those small, everyday things really make it all worth it. This site celebrates the everyday.

Upworthy is all about sharing stories that make you realize the world is actually a pretty spectacular place. It’s full of videos, photos and articles that you likely didn’t read in the morning news, but that you really should know about. I love the letter a mom wrote to her son after he came out on Facebook. It filled me with warm thoughts.

What made you smile today?