zen habits : breathe

An Overlooked Factor in Creating Positive Change

By Leo Babauta

I’ve created more positive changes in the last 11 years than I can count: from health and fitness to mindfulness and happiness; from productivity and finance to clutter and relationships.

There are lots of factors that are incredibly important in creating any positive change: starting small, taking small steps all along the way, finding motivation and accountability, finding the support of people around you (or finding it online), learning to mindfully notice your urges to quit.

These are all super important. But there’s another factor that most people overlook: how you feel about the change.

This is what I’ve learned in the decade-plus since I’ve been doing this, for myself and helping other people:

You can see from all of the above how important your attitude is, your mood, your feeling about the change. You can see that it’s affected by how you’re feeling each day, your tiredness and stress levels, how encouraging or discouraging other people are toward you, and how you talk to yourself.

So putting all that together, let’s talk about some actions you can take to get better at this overlooked skill.

How to Be Awesome at Feeling Awesome

It’s not possible to always feel positive and upbeat. I don’t even recommend it — lots of us try to block out or avoid any negative feelings whatsoever, and this means we’re rejecting a whole range of feelings. I used to buy into this idea, but now I let myself feel down. I let myself feel discouraged, sad, frustrated, irritated — and accept these parts of myself instead of rejecting them.

That said, you can take actions to put yourself in the mood for positive changes. It’s helpful to be mindful of your mood and what effect it has on you.

Here are some actions you can take:

In the end, none of this is easy. But by shining a light on this process, we can take it from an overlooked area that’s holding us back, to something we explore with curiosity and wonder.


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