Happiness vs. Positivity : What's the Difference?

 

Happiness vs Positivity

 

If you want to know the truth, I'm not often happy. I was born with a disposition that lends itself to melancholy and anxiety. I've always been a worrier and I'm prone to bouts of deep, dramatic sadness. But I'm not complaining. You know why? Because happiness isn't my life's goal. And, if you're looking for honesty here, it shouldn't be your life's goal either. 

One of the greatest struggles I've had over the past (almost!) 10 years of working on Positively Present is misconception that happiness = positivity. In fact, that was one of the greatest struggles of my life before I started truly understanding positivity. I was taught -- as most of us are -- that the ideal life is a happy life, but the fact is: happiness isn't something you can guarantee, and making that your life's focus is going to lead to intense disappointment and a constant, feverish need to find the next source of happiness as soon as the feeling fades. 

Back in 2015, I wrote a post called Happiness Is Not a Choice: The Difference Between Happiness + Positivity, and after reading a bunch of happiness-related quotes (in preparation for the 2018 Gratitude Challenge -- it's not too late to join in if you want!), I decided I wanted to revisit the topic since I think it's one of the most important distinctions for anyone who wants to live a more positive, present life to understand. 

Here are some of the differences between happiness and positivity, along with some thoughts on each! 

 

Happiness is a mood.
Positivity is a mindset.

Happiness is fleeting. No matter what wonderful thing happens, the happy feelings will only last so long, and that's because, like any emotion, happiness is transitory. Positivity, on the other hand, is a way of seeing the world. It's an attitude that you can embrace no matter how difficult the circumstances. Regardless of how you're feeling or what you're experiencing, you can always choose to look for the good (even if the "good" is simply a life lesson that will ultimately make you stronger) and hope for a better tomorrow.  

 

Happiness may be out of your control.
Positivity is a choice you can always make. 

When you're having a terrible day or something horrific has happened to you, it's going to be difficult (if not impossible) to be happy. Happiness can sometimes be within your control based on your choices in life, but there are a lot of things we can't control that cause unhappiness. Positivity is always within our control. Being optimistic -- no matter how bad the situation -- is a choice. You might be miserable, but with a positive attitude you can still believe that better things are coming and that you can take away something meaningful from every experience. 

 

Happiness is generally short-lived.
Positivity can be ever-present. 

Think about the last time you were truly, joyously, can't-stop-smiling happy. How long did it last? An hour? A day? A week? Happiness, no matter how amazing the cause of it, doesn't last for long. It's wonderful and amazing when it happens, but it's not a state of mind; it's an emotion. But positivity is different. It's a mindset, which means that, as long as you continue to work on it and practice it, you can keep it around forever. Happiness is fleeting, but positivity can be ever-lasting. 

 

Happiness is part of a disposition that can be inherited.
Positivity is life-changing skill that can be learned. 

Happiness is an emotion, but it's one that some people are more likely to experience simply based on how they were made. Some people are more likely to be joyful and cheerful, to have inherited a sunny disposition. Unfortunately, some are less likely to have inherited those traits, making the emotion of happiness more elusive. However, that's no reason to despair, because, regardless of the disposition you've inherited, you can learn the art of positivity through practice and patience. It's not always easy, but it's much more possible than changing your DNA! 

 

Happiness all the time would be miserable.
Positivity all the time leads to contentment. 

Can you imagine what it would be like to be happy ALL the time? In theory, it sounds amazing, but, in reality, there'd be nothing to compare it to, so it wouldn't seem like anything special. In fact, it would probably be quite maddening if all of the sudden you were given everything you ever wanted and never again felt any emotion other than happiness. Being positive all the time, however, is one of the best ways I've found to lead a more contented, accepting life. It's a skill that will transform every aspect of life -- making the happy moments happier and the painful moments less painful. 

 

Happiness is a goal that might not be achieved.
Positivity is a mindset one can adopt with certainty. 

No matter how hard you might work toward what you think will bring you happiness -- the perfect partner, career, etc. -- you might not be able to achieve it because, let's face it, life is like that sometimes. No matter how badly you want something, it's not guaranteed. And, once you get that thing, there's no guarantee it'll make you feel happy (nor a guarantee on how long it'll make you feel happy). A positive attitude is a mindset you can choose with certainty, no matter what life throws at you. And, I can 100% assure you that, no matter how bad things get, positivity will only make them better.

 

As you can see, the differences between happiness and positivity are multitudinous. As many times as they're interchanged in popular culture, it's important to remember that they're not the same thing. Happiness could have you chasing after things for decades, endlessly waiting for the day when everything feels perfect. Positivity will always meet you right where you are, good day or bad day, through all of life's ups and downs. If you spend your life chasing happiness, you'll always be on the hunt for something. But if you focus on mastering the skill of positivity, you'll be able to make the most of wherever you are, whatever comes your way.


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Plant Positive Seeds: 3 Stress-Reducing Habits

 

Positively Present - Little Deeds

 

Feeling stressed? Yeah, you're not alone. Most of us experience stress, particularly at this time of year when we're reflecting on the months that have passed and looking forward to the typically-busy months to come. If you're stressed, you're probably thinking of in-the-moment things you can do to quell the chaotic feelings (deep breathing, taking breaks, spa-like activities, etc.), but one of the best ways to combat stress is to develop regular habits that keep you calm. Planting positive seeds in the form of stress-reducing habits can greatly reduce your stress level, in part because you don't have to think about things to help you reduce your stress -- they'll already be habits! 

There are tons of ideas for habits that reduce stress -- eating well, exercising, spending time with loved ones, etc. -- but here are three of my favorite stress-reducing habits that you might want to consider adopting. Even if you're not currently stressed, putting habits like this in place can help you when you're facing stress in the future! 

 

START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard "gratitude journal" in connection with stress reduction, but there's a reason that it's a popular topic in the self-help community. Spending time reflecting on what you're thankful for really does help cut down on stress. Studies have shown that gratitude is good for your health and, on a personal level, I've found that tracking things I'm thankful for on a daily basis really does help me feel less stressed. 

 

PICK UP A BUNCH OF FLOWERS

Surrounding yourself with beauty and nature is another great habit to embrace if you want to stress less. New research shows that people who lived with flowers in their homes for just a few days reported a significant decrease in their levels of stress and improvements in their moods. The simple act of making it a habit to have flowers around can help you stress less! This is a great example of how a small habit -- putting some pretty flowers in your home -- can have a meaningful impact on your stress level. 

 

OFFER TO HELP SOMEONE ELSE

Another great habit to consider adopting is regularly helping out others. Whether it's volunteering for a local charity, assisting a coworker, or helping those you love, helping other people is a habit that will cut down on your stress. It might sound counterintuitive -- adding another thing to your to-do list to reduce stress? -- but studies have shown that volunteering is good for your mental health, and the more stable your mental health, the better you'll be able to cope with stress! 

 

Nobody likes being stressed, but hopefully the three habits detailed above will inspire you to consider incorporating a stress-reducing, positive habit into your life on a regular basis. While deep breaths and mindfulness techniques can help combat stress in the moment, it's a good idea to create regular positive habits that will counteract stress without you having to even think about it. So consider adding gratitude journaling into your nightly routine, picking up some flowers on the way home from work, signing up to volunteer (or any other positive habit that cuts down on stress!) and see how simple, small things can have a big impact on your stress level! 

 

 

On StreetThank you to the Society of American Florists (SAF) for kindly sponsoring today's post! Whether it’s paying for a fellow commuter’s toll, or leaving a generous restaurant tip, “paying it forward” and “random acts of kindness” give people hope and inspire kindness towards others. SAF and the whole floral industry is taking part in this movement. It started with a small idea, that grew into everyone wanting to take part. Floral industry members know the power of flowers — they see it every day in their work. Whether to give or receive, flowers make people happy. For more information on the scientifically proven benefits of flowers including new university research on how living with flowers decreases stress, visit www.aboutflowers.com/research.


Get Grateful! : The 2018 Gratitude Challenge Is Here


2018_Gratitude_Challenge

 

It's hard to believe, but 2018 is the EIGHTH year of this Gratitude Challenge! 

I'm sharing the prompts a bit early this year so everyone who wants to participate can have a chance to prepare (and get a head start on thinking about gratitude!). I personally like tracking gratitude daily in my Every Day Matters diary, but even though I do it daily, focusing on a single word each day throughout November has served as a wonderful way to move toward the end of the year on a thankful note. 

Like last year, I'll be sharing my illustrations on Instagram daily (follow me on Instagram if you're not already!), but most people choose to to share photographs. Do whatever works best for you. It's all about connecting with what you're grateful for, so the method is less important than the content. If you're new to the Challenge, read on for details! 

 

THE CHALLENGE DETAILS

  • “Challenge” is just a word.

    The goal of the Challenge is to take and/or share something (a photo, illustration, quote, etc.) every day using the prompts to help you feel more appreciative. Feel free to get creative, make up your own prompts, etc. And don’t feel pressured to attain perfection, either. Thankfulness is what it’s all about; no need to be a professional photographer or artist!

  • Join in at any time.

    The point of the Challenge is to focus on staying thankful for thirty days. You can start the challenge on November 1 and do it for the whole month (as I am doing), or you can start the challenge any day that works for you and follow along at your own pace. I see people discovering and partaking in the Challenge all year 'round so don't feel limited to November!

  • Use the hashtag #Gratitude30.

    Sharing your pics on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.? If you tag them with #Gratitude30, others can see them and you’ll be able to see all of the other cool things that other people are sharing. It's one of my favorite things ever to look through all of the posts and see the various ways people interpret the prompts. 

  • Save or print out a reminder.

    Keep up with the prompts by downloading the photo above (save it to your phone, perhaps!) or, if you’re more of a IRL type, print out a version to post wherever you'd find a reminder helpful so you can stay on top of the prompts. Of course, you don't have to do them all in a row, but there is something special about spending 30 days focusing on what you're thankful for. 

 

THE 2018 PROMPTS...

 

DAY 1: HOME

It's said that home is where the heart is, but what does the word "home" mean to you? Is it where you rest your head each night? Is it where you grew up? Or is home more of a state of mind? Whatever home means to you, reflect on it and share a photo of it today.

 

DAY 2: INSPIRATION

We all find unique inspiration in the world around us. On Day 2, consider what inspires you to get out of the bed in the morning. What inspires you to keep working, loving, living? Use today as an opportunity to share your favorite source of inspiration. 

 

DAY 3: LOVE

Of course, we couldn't do this without mentioning love. There are so many kinds of love (romantic, friendship, etc.) and each one is deserving of your gratitude. How do you share love in your life? How do you accept it? How does it make you feel when you think of the word "love"?

 

DAY 4: COLOR

If you can't tell from my colorful site, there are few things I love more than color. It's something I'm incredibly grateful for on a daily basis. How do you feel about color? Which ones are your favorites? What colors inspire feelings of happiness? Share those today!

 

DAY 5: HAPPINESS

For each and every one of us, the word "happiness" might mean something different. Try not to place any judgment on what makes you happy. Just contemplate it today and then find a way share with the world. Don't forget to use #Gratitude30! 

 

DAY 6: WORDS

Someone once asked me what is the one thing I couldn't live without and I immediately answered: words. Words are my passion, but even if you're not passionate about words, I bet they've had a profound influence on your life. Share your favorites -- a single word, a quote, etc. -- today. 

 

DAY 7: MEMORIES

While staying present is very important, reflecting on positive memories can be uplifting. Consider your favorite moment or item from the past. What was wonderful about it? How do you feel when you think of that time / thing / person? 

 

DAY 8: NATURE

Look around for whatever nature you can find. No matter where you live, there's likely to be something natural that can inspire you. What is inspiring or beautiful about what you see? What elements of nature do you most connect with? When are you most in touch with nature? 

 

DAY 9: LAUGHTER

Laughing is one of the best activities in life, and I'm grateful for every moment I spend laughing. Today, reflect on what makes you laugh. Is it a movie? A book? A joke? A memory? A friend? Whatever evokes that giddy sense of joy within you, be thankful for it. 

 

DAY 10: MUSIC

Music is an aspect of life I'm immensely grateful for. (Check out my playlists on Spotify!) There are songs for every occasion and mood and hearing the right one can change everything. What kind of music do you enjoy? What song is your favorite right now?

 

DAY 11: GIFT

This prompt can go one of two ways: (1) you could share a gift that someone else that has given you that you're thankful to have received, or (2) you can share your gratitude for a gift/talent that you possess. Whatever you choose, focus on being thankful for life's gifts. 

 

DAY 12: WISDOM

Reflect on the wisdom you've received (or gained!) in your life. Who is the wisest person you know? What have you learned from him/her? Or, reflect specifically on a piece of advice or an experience that's made you wiser. 

 

DAY 13: ART

What you consider "art" is unique to you. Even if you don't consider yourself artistic, you know what appeals to you when you see it. Ask yourself: What art do I see on a daily basis? What art have I seen that's positively impacted my life? 

 

DAY 14: ROUTINE

Many of us (especially me!) are creatures of habit. What positive routines do you have in your life? What is it about those routines that keeps you doing them? Do they make your life easier? What elements of them are you thankful for? 

 

DAY 15: CLOTHING

Clothing is a something we often take for granted, but we are fortunate to have it. What attire are you the most thankful for? What item makes you happy every time you wear it? What item has an important meaning for you? 

 

DAY 16: NOVELTY

New things and experiences are exciting! What's been added to your life over the past year? What's changed since last November? Do you have new friends, new experiences, new mindsets? If you're struggling with this prompt, go out and do something new today! 

 

DAY 17: WEATHER

Without the bad weather, we'd never appreciate the good. Weather itself is a reminder to be grateful, which makes it a great thing to focus on today. How do you feel when the sun shines? When the storm clouds gather? What is the weather today and how does it make you feel? 

 

DAY 18: FOOD

For all of us, food is life-giving, which means it's a pretty great thing to be grateful for. What is your favorite food? Why? What tastes (sweet, salty, etc.) are you most drawn to? What flavors entice and excite you? Celebrate (and maybe eat!) your favorites today. 

 

DAY 19: BEAUTY 

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. What beauty are you grateful to see or experience? What things make your home, office, neighborhood, etc. more beautiful? Who around you embodies the essence of beauty? What do you find beautiful about yourself? 

  

DAY 20: FRIENDSHIP

Today, be grateful for and celebrate the friendships in your life. Who has been by your side no matter what? Who can you call, day or night, for a chat? Who puts a smile on your face when you think of his/her name? 

 

DAY 21: TECHNOLOGY

I've always loved technology, and I'm so thankful to have it in my life. In what ways does technology change your life for the better? What are you most thankful for when it comes to the technological advances in our world today? 

 

DAY 22: FAMILY

Family — no matter what shape or size it comes in  — is something we're all lucky to have in our lives. Take note of your family today (and "family" can include friends, too!). What do you love about them? What do you often take for granted?

 

DAY 23: SCENT

What we smell can be transformative, memory-making, and important. Consider what your favorite smells are and why. How do they make you feel? Why do you like feeling that way? Today, be thankful for the aromas in your life. 

 

DAY 24: KNOWLEDGE

Consider how much you've learned since the day you were born. Pretty amazing, isn't it? I bet in the last year alone, you've learned tons of things you didn't know before. What are you thankful to know? What knowledge resources are you thankful to have? 

 

DAY 25: COMFORT

Comfort is a gift — whether it's in the form of physical comfort (a hug, a blanket) or an emotional outlet (a good listener, wise advice). What things, people, or situations make you feel most comforted? Be thankful for those things in your life today.  

 

DAY 26: TIME

We all have limited amounts of time, which is one reason we should be so grateful for whatever we've been given. How do you like to spend your time? What would you do if you had more time? What does the word "time" mean to you? 

 

DAY 27: LUXURY

Most of what we have in our lives (other than food and shelter) is a wonderful luxury. What luxuries do you have in your life that you're thankful for? A car to drive you where you need to go? A bookshelf stuffed with books? Recognize (and appreciate!) your luxuries. 

 

DAY 28: WORK

Being thankful for work might be a challenge, but consider how work makes your life better. It provides income, and it can challenge, inspire, and excite you. Why are you fortunate to have a job? How does this job improve your life, or at least help you in some way?  

 

DAY 29: CREATIVITY

Even if you don't think you're "creative," every day you create something. You create connections, experiences, conversations. You might create art and music and magic. Consider what you have created recently. How did it feel? What would you like to create more of?  

 

DAY 30: SELF-LOVE

The one thing you will always have in your life, no matter what, is yourself. On the final day of the challenge, consider all the ways you are amazing and appreciate the good (and not so good!) parts of yourself. What do you love most about you? 

 

 

Even though this is the eighth year of the challenge, I'm still so excited to see what everyone posts! Being thankful can sound like cliched advice, but it really does make a positive difference. If you've never done the Challenge before, I highly recommend you give it a try. Even if you can't post every day or don't want to do it for 30 days, urging yourself to focus on gratitude as much as possible will help you stress less, allow you to feel more positive, and provide a fresh perspective. I'll be checking the #Gratitude30 hashtag and I'll begin posting my work on November 1. Can't wait to share and see what's being shared!