Quick check-in: How was today for you? Was it a struggle to get out of bed, and then a continuous struggle to enjoy the day? Or, did you go about the day positively, learn more about yourself and others, and feel excited about what you were working on? Your mindset can be the difference between these two…
Your mindset structures your experiences, your level of excitement, and your daily attitude. With the right mindset, even the hardest of days can feel like an adventure, an opportunity to discover more about how to problem-solve, how to navigate novel situations, and how to become more in tune with yourself. A positive mindset is key to a positively experienced life, and can equip you with the tools you need regardless of the situation. This article will only gloss over how impactful your mindset is, but may help you find the jumping off point for a more positively lived day to day experience.
Wake up and find something to be excited about
Let’s start with your morning routine. When you wake up, does getting out of bed seem like a chore? We’ve all been there. Your bed is comfortable, the outside world requires effort, and you’re sooo tired. Now here’s the thing: most people feel that way too – even the ones who get up at 6am to go on runs around Centennial (how they do that, I’m honestly not sure, but all the power to ‘em). The difference, however, lies in the excitement about getting out of bed and getting the day started. Remember the morning of the first day of school in middle school, or before a big family trip in elementary school when you were so excited you jolted out of bed? The key to starting your day positively is having something to be excited about that day. Have a personal reason to get out of bed and motivate yourself to action.
Tonight, Try this: Before you go to bed (maybe as you are setting your morning alarm), decide on something you are looking forward to tomorrow. Maybe it’s the Rand bowl you’re going to eat or the date party you’re going to; maybe you have a group study session or a new workout you want to try. Whatever it may be, put it in your reminders for early in the morning (read: before you wake up), and go to sleep with the excitement of tomorrow ingrained in your brain. This will make getting up in the morning so much easier!
When you wake up, dress up!
It’s easy to leave the house in sweatpants or the t-shirt you wore to bed. It’s empowering, however, to put on something exciting and flattering. Something you feel good in.When you walk through campus in an outfit you love, your confidence is evident, and you shine from within. The walk to class is so much more enjoyable when it feels like a runway, and you are excited to run into people you know. Don’t get me wrong, this can totally be done in leggings and any t-shirt. As long as you feel great, this is a tool at your disposal – use it!
Tonight, try this: Pick out your outfit for tomorrow before you go to bed. Not only will this give you something to look forward to (see #1!), but it will save you precious time in the morning. Talk about beauty sleep!
Go about the day positively
Having a positive mindset stems from the inherent desire to find the positives in every situation. You have control over your responses to situations: you are response-able. No matter how stressful your semester is, or how annoying your classmates may be, you have the power to respond based on how you desire to think about the situation and act accordingly.
Picture yourself getting back a bad grade on an exam. In this situation, you have the ability to respond in a number of ways. A positive mindset may respond in the form of personal growth: I clearly didn’t do my best on this exam. What did I do wrong, and how can I improve for the next test? I’m lucky I didn’t get an even lower score! Often, a positive mindset sets the stage for positive action, a key component to your response-ability. How will you act based on this grade? Will you go to office hours, or compare your answers with friends? Schedule an appointment with the TA? The power of how to respond to any situation, regardless of how the situation came about, lies with you. Try to go about the day with the positive response-ability mindset, and you may find yourself feeling better about the decisions you make.
Tonight, try this: Listen to your friends talk about their days. Are they focusing on the good or bad? Can you find positive aspects of the negative things they are saying? Try to point them out, and be a force of positive good. It’s usually a refreshing and welcoming perspective.
Smile and wave, boys, smile and wave
When you walk from class to class, are you looking down at your phone or up and around? Most people are looking down at their phones, which is totally understandable – but try and not be like most people: for these walks, exit phone world and be in the real world: smile at acquaintances and classmates you pass, and wave at past professors. You likely walk the same route every MWF and T/TH, and run into the same people. Some you know well, and others you know vaguely. Acknowledge all of them, if you feel so inclined. Fostering a habit of communicating with your fellow Vanderbilt students – especially those you interact with often – may even make you excited to walk to your next class.
Tomorrow, try this: Put your phone in your pocket for one of your walks between classes (you can totally have headphones in – I usually do). Try and see how many people you recognize (even vaguely), and note if this walking experience feels better than scrolling on Instagram. If it doesn’t, feel free to skip it!
Text someone far away
I know, I know. You’re busy. But one of the times you happen to be on your phone, text someone who means a lot to you. Maybe a childhood friend, a high school prom date, or a distant relative. Let them know you’re thinking about them and you want to talk soon. This often means a lot to the other person, and I’m sure it has been on your to do list for a while. Putting it into action feels great, and you’ll put a smile on their face in the process.
Tomorrow, try this: When in line at Rand, or Commons, or Grins, craft a text to a distant friend. Let them know you miss them and love them and are thinking of them, even if you don’t have the time to always express it. If you want (and can), schedule a facetime or call for the near future.
You’ve been meaning to do this one too, but sometimes it just gets pushed off. Call your siblings, parents, cousins, or anyone who makes you feel nostalgic and safe. If you feel as though you don’t have enough time for this, make a time limit before you place the call, and tell the person you have to go by a certain time. Make the most of the time that you do have, and relay mostly important information. Listen intently to what they have to say, and encourage continued dialogue. Speaking to people from your home, family, or even just hometown may feel calming and even therapeutic. It’s nice to have someone on the outside knowing what’s happening on the inside: an extra support system, fresh perspective, and continuous friendship. Maintain these connections as best you can.
Tomorrow, try this: Before you go to bed (maybe while your face mask is setting, or as you walk to print out the essay due tomorrow), facetime or call someone from home. Spend a few minutes updating them on your life, hearing about theirs, and talking about anything. If it feels grounding, do it again the next day, maybe with the same person.
Get a move on!
When you exercise, your body releases happy chemicals. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but let it sink in for a moment. Exercising is a proven method to make you feel good: it gives you serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These happy chemicals make you feel great, look good, and stay healthy. When you make going to the gym a habit, sleeping becomes easier, productivity increases, and your body will thank you. Be mindful of your time and only allocate the amount of time that you can (most of us have crazy schedules), but make time for the things that matter. Forming a habit of working out will help your mental health, improve your muscle strength, and leave you feeling good throughout the day.
Tomorrow try this: Mix your workout in with other things on your schedule: try a new workout class with your friends, join a club that works out, or walk to dinner across campus!
Try one or a few of these things out in the next week, and let me know how you feel! The key You have total control of your day to day endeavors, and making the most of them will help you continuously feel great!
By Toby Iren, Lifestyle Editor, Class of 2021