In a world where humour can often mask many underlying negativity, we sometimes need to shift focus. But how can we alter ingrained tendencies and embrace positivity?

I've found three incredibly effective habits to make positivity my second nature. This road to self-improvement may not always be smooth, but it’s a journey which promises personal growth and mindful existence - far beyond the fleeting comfort of a well-timed joke.

While these guidelines/habits might not be relevant for you, I hope that this will spark something in you. Not immediately but when it happens. Write it down immediately.

#1: Stop trying to be funny.

If you are not one of those warm and funny people, stop trying to be funny.

I am not warm and funny. I have a dry and sarcastic bent which humours me more than the other person.

Photo by Jon Butterworth / Unsplash

What I've learned is while it is fine to indulge in my sense of humour, I (used to) attempt to be funny too often in social conversations. And given a poor hit/miss ratio, I'd end up saying stupid things more often than I'd like.

Instead of brushing up on jokes, I've instead stopped trying to be funny, to have a quip. I think people like me better now :)

#2: If you cannot say anything positive, don't say anything.

Absolute cliche but true.

Do you need to point out if someone's looking haggard? Or if they've put on weight? Nope. You can shut it.

I (used to) not find anything positive as I was busy telling myself about #1 and #2. But this one's simpler except if you are an over-thinker like I am.

Most often, I am pleased to see the other person. Telling them that is positive enough.

#3: Check in with yourself.

This is the most recent learning and one I have the least number of practices with.

Are you feeling stressed? Are you feeling grumpy? Tired? Hungry? Thirsty?

Especially in social settings, I tend to shrink if I am low on energy. But it happens even when I am alone, to be honest. I find myself being a bigger dick to myself when I am feeling low.

Being aware by checking in with myself is simple. Just by paying attention and asking the question, I realise I am being kind to myself. And I might not be able to do much about it (although there are things that can be done.)

But checking in, and acknowledging that I am feeling grumpy is quite often enough to get out of my grumpy zone.

This list keeps growing. And there's a lot of contradictory stuff as I pen them down. But that's okay.

More than anything, I realise that guidelines and heuristics help me navigate the world better. Like you, I have a lot of these. Penning them down and elaborating on them has been useful. Too many unsaid things leave me on autopilot and without a clear idea of why something happened.

The amount of times I have tried to find a decent photo of a blank sketch book is too many. So I decided to create a few, starting with this one.
Photo by Mike Tinnion / Unsplash

Name it. Write it down. It solidifies.

The thing with self-help is you have to figure out what works for you and what applies to you. That sounds rough but it is a lot of fun.