It’s easy to fall into a pattern of mindlessness in your life. Whether it’s going through the motions or getting into a repeating cycle of negativity, it’s important to make a mental shift toward a positive outlook.

We’ve asked an expert for her take on how to disrupt these negative routines and make changes for the better.

1. Reflect and reclaim

To begin to feel better, think about the moments that make you happy, fill you with energy, and stir up optimism. Lisa Shumate, author of Always and Never: 20 Truths for a Happy Heart, a book and companion journal, suggests asking yourself some important questions when looking for some inspiration.

What kinds of things are you doing when these uplifting moments occur? Write down your answers and look at your calendar. How can you schedule more time for things that bring you joy?

“A good place to start is the first part of each day,” she says. “Many successful people say the secret is they carve out the first waking hours of the day for themselves. They meditate, exercise, write, and prioritize their needs. Take back your early mornings and you’ll feel more in control the rest of your day.”

2. Do the math

Have you ever thought about the cost of wasting your time in a mindless state? Shumate says it’s estimated that we’re spending up to three hours a day on social media, simply scrolling the feeds.

“That computes to 37.5% of the typical 8 hour work day or $187.50 of a $500 per week salary,” she continues. “If instead one to two of those hours were spent learning, volunteering, or organizing a pot luck lunch at the office, what might the return on investment be? Learning and volunteering have intrinsic rewards, and doing something fun to bring co-workers together can yield new friends as well as goodwill that can pay off for months to come.”

3. Rest and refresh

To get in a better place quickly, Shumate suggests closing your eyes and turning off your mind for 5-10 minutes.

“Sit still, play soft music in your earbuds, quiet your thoughts and breathe. Following these 5-10 minutes get up and grab some water, decaf tea, or coffee and walk around for a couple minutes,” she says.

“The combination of taking a break and moving around can improve your concentration for the work at hand. It will help you become more discerning and thoughtful about what really needs your attention, and help you tune out unproductive static that’s best ignored,” she says.

You may find yourself looking forward to these breaks and will most certainly realize the benefits of recharging.

4. Have serious fun

Laughter relieves tension, relaxes muscles, boosts your immune system and is scientifically proven to benefit mental health, says Shumate. For fun, consider a game to boost your mood.

“Board games, shooting pool, ping pong and bowling are fun ways to spend time with friends as well as make new friends,” adds Shumate. “Break the routine of eating out or binge-watching while ordering in. Go out and get your geek on with regular game nights.”


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