Who isn't guilty of being an unpleasant person to be around every now and then? We all have our good days and bad days, so it happens. But if you're noticing that your negativity has become a constant thing that's starting to affect your relationships, it's never too late to turn it all around. So what can you do to become a happier and less toxic person?
"Many people believe that toxicity comes from within — what you think is what you become," Psychologist John W. Beiter, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "In other words, you can't go out into the physical world and purchase some toxicity. Research claims we process anywhere from 30 to 60,000 thoughts a day. So if the majority of your daily thoughts are negative, then you're probably seeding yourself to be toxic."
Just think of the toxic and negative people you have in your life. How do you feel when you're around them? Chances are, not very good. Being around negativity can be super draining. That's why it isn't too much of a surprise that a recent Monmouth University found that bad moods can be contagious.
But as Beiter says, "what you think is what you become." The actions you take every day can also play a role in helping you become a happier and less toxic person. So here are some habits you should pick up, because you can turn it all around:
1. Smile To Bring In The Good Vibes
"One thing that I find makes people happier is actually smiling," Sarah J. Cepeda, Certified Life Coach and Empowerment Speaker, tells Bustle. "You'd be surprised at how much of an impact something as simple as smiling can have on a person."
Don't smile because people tell you to (isn't that the worst?). Smile because you want to. "Smiling is inviting," Cepeda says. "People want to interact and be around those who appear to be happy. Daily interaction with positive, and uplifting people makes us happier as well — all this just because of a smile."
2. Maintain Some Kind Of Gratitude Practice
You may have been told to "count your blessings"? Nowadays it's easy to get so caught up in what others have that you don't. But comparing yourself and focusing on what you lack isn't going to make you a happy person.
That's why it's important to be grateful for what you do have in your life and find something that can help you express that. You can do anything from recognizing things to be grateful for as they come up, thinking about what you're grateful for at the beginning and/or end of the day, writing thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, or any other form of gratitude practice you can think of, Amanda Stemen, licensed therapist and owner of FUNdaMENTALs tells Bustle.
"Being grateful keeps your focus on what's going well, rather than what's not," Stemen says.
3. Stay Away From Negative Conversations
Make it a habit to stay away from negative conversations. It's far too easy to get sucked into ones filled with gossip. "Gossiping, backbiting, and talking about unpleasant topics not only has a negative impact on your own happiness, it affects those who are around you," Zakiyya Rosebelle, life coach and author of Laugh, Love, Lick Chocolate Frosting, tells Bustle.
Instead, Rosebelle suggests to share fun recipes, discuss upcoming plans of events, or talk about something new you learned. Instead of continuing to spread negativity, more positive topics of conversation will make you good company to be around.
4. Slow Down And Practice Self-Care
"When we are rushed, tired, hungry, stressed, or not hydrated enough we can make snap decisions without thinking of the other people in our life," Kaytlyn Sanders, life coach and owner of Beneficial Habits tells Bustle. That's why Sanders says it's important to take the time out of your busy days to practice self-care. That means different things to different people. But if you want a place to start, Sanders suggests meditating, exercising, writing in a journal, and turning off all non-vital phone notifications.
5. Make It A Point To Be Kind To Someone Each Day
"Kindness is good for your health," Clinical Director Tasha Holland-Kornegay, PhD, LPCS, tells Bustle. "If you're kind to someone, your brain lights up, raises your serotonin levels, and can actually make you think you're the receiver of kind acts. Tricky right?"
So if you want to be a happier and less toxic person, start by being nice. It doesn't have to anything grand or extraordinary. You don't even have to spend a dime. Just be kind and show compassion to the people around you. It's as simple as that. Your brain will reward you for it.
6. Laugh At Yourself (And Your Mistakes)
"Toxicity stems from greed, blame, shame, and guilt," Life Coach and Therapist, Karen Hartmann tells Bustle. "There's a deeply rooted belief that 'I am not OK unless I meet certain conditions.'" But if your toxicity doesn't stem from something you need professional help for, you can be OK starting right now. One way of doing that is to make it a habit to laugh at yourself and your mistakes.
"Toxicity has no space in laughter," Hartmann says. "Stop overthinking every once in a while and just be in the moment."
7. Supersize Your Stressor
When life presents you with a stressful situation, ask yourself this: "What's the worst that can happen here?" According to "The Jollytologist" Allen Klein, author of You Can't Ruin My Day: 52 Wake-Up Calls To Turn Any Situation Around, supersizing your stress by thinking of the worst possible outcome might help you find humor in the situation. Chances are, the outcome to whatever is stressing you out isn't going to be as bad as you make it out in your head. When you're clear of any stress, you're more likely to be a happier and pleasant person to be around.
8. Create Positive Meanings For Every One Of Your Experiences
There are a lot of things that happen in life that you can't control. While you can't control what's going on around you, you can control how you see the situation.
"It is always your decision to decide what every experience means and how you feel about it," life coach Angela Tisci tells Bustle. "The meaning you make out of every experience is ultimately your decision. The more flexible you are, the more options you have." Essentially, it's important to always experience life with a glass half full kind of perspective. Choose the more positive approach.
9. Unfollow Social Media Accounts That Don't Make You Feel Good
"Stop following social media accounts that trigger the worst feelings in you," Melody Godfred, founder and CEO of self love movement Fred + Far tells Bustle. "Whether it’s a classmate from high school who's #livingherbestlife, or a celebrity who has it all, unfollow people who make you feel inferior, behind in life, angry, resentful, frustrated, envious or depressed."
You can even take it a step further and get off social media completely—or at least for a while. "As we increasingly spend every waking moment online, we’re becoming less and less active, which in turn contributes to a collective increase in anxiety and depression," Godfred says. "Dancing, for example, is an especially great way to fuel a healthy mind-body connection that gets your positive juices flowing."
10. Relinquish Some Control
"Aiming for perfectionism is the fastest way to guarantee failure on a daily basis. And when we fail, we become toxic, to ourselves and to the world," Godfred says. She suggests to use a gratitude practice to value who you are and what you can accomplish each day. From there, let go of the need for everything and everyone to live life inside your lines.
"Start embracing the mess of life," she says. "Your happiness meter will immediately climb."
11. Build Up Your Your Self-Esteem Through Positive Affirmations
If you want to be a happier and less toxic person, it's important to love yourself. As cliche as it may be, it's easier to spread love and positivity if you feel it inside first. "Write down three positive affirmations, stick them onto your mirror and look at it in the morning when you're brushing your teeth," Emma Bennett, licensed psychotherapist tells Bustle.
Affirmations can be anything that you feel you need, says Bennet. You can write something like, I've got this, I'm capable, and everything is going to be OK. "Repeating these affirmations can help set the intention of the day and can reframe any negativity," she says.
It's not easy to recognize that you're being a toxic person. Speaking from experience, it's easier to put yourself in self-pity mode. Your negativity has a way of spilling over to those around you, even if you're unaware of it. It may take some time, but adapting small, positive habits will not only benefit you, but those around you as well.