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    Always look on the bright side of life

    Sounds like a song, doesn’t it? And one that makes you smile – you can almost hear Monty Python singing it. While it is probably unrealistic, the message is more about maintaining a positive mental attitude and feeling good about what we are doing.

    To be successful, we need think “success” all the time. Always remember that any time spent dwelling on negative thoughts is wasted time that you’ll never get back – and it will lead you on a path away from where you want to be.

    Say you’re playing golf. Basically your objective is to hit a ball into a hole. Sounds simple enough, right? If only! Taking into account the ball is relatively tiny and the hole is usually a few hundred metres away – not to mention all the terrain hazards and wind resistance – the game requires a certain level of skill, focus and a positive mental attitude.

    Any Tiger Woods wannabe trying to focus on getting his aim and swing right and the ball where it should go, is going to be put off if his head is full of thoughts like “I’m never going to get this in!” and “why am I even trying? I always fail, I’m just going to fail again at this and everyone is watching me – I might as well just give up now!”

    On the other hand, someone thinking “I’ve got this! Now if I hold the club like this and hit the ball right there, with this amount of swing, then I should...” is often likely to follow up those thoughts with “YES! YOU BEAUTY!”

    While golf may not particularly be your thing, the message should be loud and clear – with a positive mental attitude you can achieve your objectives!

    Just as easily as the weather changes, things occur in day to day life that cause us to be happy, sad, excited, upset, motivated and unmotivated. The tricky part is finding a key to controlling your emotions that works for you – think of it as a mental umbrella. You can keep it tucked away while the sun is shining, but should there be a chance of showers, you can pull it out so you’re affected as little as possible by any sudden downpours.

    There are a few ways you can construct your own mental umbrella –

    Take stock! When something goes wrong – especially with something we’ve invested our time and effort in - it’s common for emotions to run high. Stress will never help you maintain a positive and focused mental attitude, so take some time out frequently to relax and think about your current conditions. The perspective you gain once you step outside a situation often produces the understanding needed to move on successfully. If something has gone wrong, steer clear of thoughts like “I can’t believe this is happening”. Rather, favour thoughts like “OK, this has happened, now what’s the best way to deal with it and move on so I can achieve my objective”. No matter what kind of deadline you’re working to, you’re more likely to get there quicker and with a better result if you take the time to assess the situation and find the best way to continue.

    Eyes on the prize! This is about not getting caught up and losing sight of your priorities. The best way to do this is when you start, write up a plan of all the things you have to do to achieve your objective, and then give them a priority listing (1 being highest priority). Once you have done this, sort them into the order they need to be completed. It’s often easy to become distracted and overwhelmed by large tasks and enter into a “this is all too much” frame of mind. By performing tasks as they are planned out, you’ll be able to chart your progress, which will give you a sense of achievement and help keep your head on straight.

    Be Mr. Brightside! Problems are an avoidable part of life. What we often do avoid is the right way of dealing with them as they arise. As problems come up, go back to step one and take stock of the situation – but don’t dwell on them! Get out of the moment so you can come back at it with fresh legs and a clearer idea of the best way to deal with the problem.

    Talk to others around you – often an outsider’s opinion will give you the perspective you need to deal with the situation effectively – but remember not to talk about the fact that there IS a problem, establish that and move onto how you can FIX the problem and help you achieve your objective. Get some positive input – once you see the good in what you’re doing, you’ll find it harder to dwell on the bad.

    Time changes everything – learn it, live it, love it! Heed the immortal words of David Bowie in Changes – “time may change me, but I can’t trace time”. No matter what your situation is currently, chances are it will be different by tomorrow, or next week, or next year and a positive mental attitude will mean more sunny days, and no wet clothes when the occasional shower comes along.

    So go on, get started on creating your own mental umbrella!

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