We are used to the 'glass half full, glass half empty' analogy to refer to optimists and pessimists. It's easy to think of this as a matter of luck - a positive attitude is either in the person's nature ('born that way') or a matter of circumstances (winning Lotto).
There's a bit of truth in that as psychologists have been able to show. The positive attitude that is associated with feelings of mastery and connection is 50% inherited, 10% to do with the person's circumstances and 40% related to activities. Since we don't have much influence over our genes and the situation we are in has only a small effect on those feelings of well-being, the place to focus is on activities - we can do things which make a difference to our outlook and how we feel. That's very good news since this area is almost half of the equation.
What do we need to do? We can all become more positive by taking time to appreciate everyday positive events and noticing that we are feeling good, which will build good memories. This is known in positive psychology as savouring.
Here are some of the things you can do to savour a moment:
Be cautious about making comparisons with others. It is well put in the Desiderata (Max Ehrmann, 1927): ' If you compare yourself with others you may become vain or bitter, for there will always be greater or lesser persons than yourself.' Be realistic and objective about any comparisons.
Avoid killjoy thinking which drives some of us to look for the flaws in any success or to look ahead for the next bad thing which could happen, rather than savouring the moment.
Count your blessings and be grateful every day for what each day brings.
Give yourself credit for even small successes and take time to enjoy your feeling of achievement.
Celebrate and share positive times by telling family and friends. Make an occasion of it by inviting people around for a meal to celebrate with you, or by taking morning tea into the office.
Be aware of the moment and pay attention to your senses and feelings so that you create lasting memories of what could otherwise be a fleeting experience on the way to the next chore or challenge.
In this way you will not just 'smell the roses' but see and touch them, notice how they make you feel, share them with others and, if you grew them yourself, take pleasure in the result of your good gardening skills!