We are fed a lot of platitudes on positivity. From looking for silver linings to faking it till you make it to rising and shining before dawn breaks, the list is endless. However, motivational fridge magnets don’t carry the same clout as a seasoned wellness expert and successful entrepreneur.
So when the JW Marriott Marquis brought a group of industry leaders together for a positivity panel called Gather, livehealthy.ae tagged along. And we came away with eight solid tips on how to change your outlook for the better from people who are at the top of their game: Amanda Duncan, co-founder of Phoenix Rising; baking master Melissa Forti; Yazen Al Kodmani, general manager of Emirates Bio Farm and Sally Bee, a motivational speaker and health and wellness expert from the UK who survived five heart attacks before hitting 50.
Give in to cravings
Forti believes you should always say yes to what your body needs – just avoid gelatine and replace sugar if it doesn’t work for you. “If you keep avoiding what you crave, your body will eventually produce what it needs to fulfil it. Look at your indulgence from a point of celebration and happiness.”
Schedule ‘me time’
For Duncan it’s about taking more purposeful measures for yourself. “Be stricter about the time you give yourself. And don’t feel guilty for resting because we are actually naturally very good at it.”
Put on a podcast
Al Kodmani often finds music distracting whereas learning something new makes him feel accomplished on his way to work. “I think it’s important to developing listening skills more too,” he says.
Embrace the worst days
Even though Forti is at the top of her game, loves what she does and rarely gets demotivated, she has occasional bad days like anyone else. “I deal with disaster days by not assuming the next day will be bad again. You have to let yourself cry. If you fight it, it will fight you. Don’t try to make yourself be better in an instant. Be gentle with yourself.”
Let go of control
“Life happens around us, not to us,” says Bee, who has pioneered the 365 Days of Positivity project on her Instagram account by uploading daily motivational mantras. “You can’t control what is going to happen tomorrow. The only thing you can control is how you react to things.”
If you’re experiencing the high of a job well done or any kind of personal accomplishment, take the time to live it – don’t let it pass by. “When you are making progress, take the glory and believe that it is happening to you,” says Duncan. “We are very quick to dismiss the good but stay on the negative too long. Reverse it.”
Change your focus
When you’re gripped with anger and anxiety, your body is riddled with the stress hormone, cortisol. “We are clever but we are not so clever that we can feel two feelings at once – we can only feel one thing at a time,” says Bee. “For instance, if you have fear over something, then you have to literally change what you are thinking about. Switch your focus by watching or listening to something funny. Believe me, you can change the way you feel by shifting your focus in the other direction. You might still be tinged with concern, but it won’t define and dominate you. I do this every morning and I genuinely have a good day.”
Forget about the past
…and believe in the future. Bee teaches ‘life lessons from a butterfly’, which looks at how a butterfly used to be a caterpillar. “The caterpillar could have been really ugly and hairy but it didn’t know what was coming in the future – but it trusted it,” she says. “You have to know and embrace that change is coming. Have faith to unfurl your wings and dare to lift off the ground.”
Georgie Bradley is a British/Greek editor and journalist based in Dubai after being bred in Bahrain. She's been published by The Guardian UK, The Telegraph UK, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post UK, Buro 24/7 and Harper's Bazaar Arabia. Most recently she was the deputy editor of Emirates Woman. You're most likely to find her in the aisle seat.