From Drab to Fab—How to Improve Your College Life

The excitement and energy at the beginning of the New Year is contagious, but it can often be hard to sustain through the spring semester. The following advice, as well as an excerpt from renowned author Robert Mack’s Happiness from the Inside Out, provides great tips to help you maintain a positive outlook throughout the entire school year:

happinessThe core lesson [here] is based on one you learned as a child: “If you don’t have anything nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything at all.”

We only have to modify this adage a little so that “somebody” includes yourself and the situations in which you find yourself. The idea is, very simply, to reach for a positive feeling before you speak, whether it’s in your head or out loud. If you can learn to do this one thing, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel and, consequently, how much your relationships and your college life will improve as well. 

Focus on the appreciative side of unpleasant stories. 

Find ways to reframe, rework, or recraft unpleasant stories so that you find and share the upside — the appreciative side — of the story. For example, when you’re on your way to a class, don’t repeat in your head the mistakes you made on your last exam; focus instead on appreciating this fantastic opportunity to be surrounded by other intelligent, competent college students and how grateful you are to be at such a leading-edge school.

When you’re getting ready for a date, don’t focus on how fat you look in your jeans, how badly your face has broken out, or how little money you have in your pocket. Instead, focus on how great it is that you have the opportunity to spend time getting to know somebody and how exciting it is that somebody’s interested enough in you to devote an entire evening to you.

When you’re relating your day to your friend or roommate, tell him or her what you found most intriguing, interesting, exciting, or delicious about your day. What was your favorite part of the day? What did you like most about your week? Who brought you the most joy? What inspired you the most? What are you most anticipating the following day, week, month, or year?

Always ask yourself: Is what I am about to say going to advance the cause of my vision, mission, and goals? Will it uplift the hearer?

Will it inspire, motivate, and create forward momentum? If you hear a negative story, simply don’t repeat it. Decide that that story has gone on long enough and be vigilant about not thinking about it or retelling it. This practice will eventually begin to shape your thoughts. And as you model this behavior yourself, the example you set for others will be a teaching mechanism for them, too.

Tell a Better-Feeling Story 

In order to successfully tell that better-feeling story, you have to look for a positive, appreciative feeling inside you before you speak. Once you find this feeling, you can speak from this positive, appreciative place, and then you can keep trying to improve or enhance or exaggerate that feeling. You will feel better and better as a result. That’s the point of the storytelling.  

Language doesn’t just describe our world; it creates it. It’s through language that we create the world, because it’s nothing until we describe it. 


Happiness From the Inside Out_The Art and Science of Fulfillment-resized-600Robert Mack is the author of Happiness from the Inside Out. He is the resident life coach for Miami Life Center, of Travel & Leisure’s top twenty-five health and wellness centers.

Excerpted with permission from Happiness from the Inside Out © 2009 by Robert Mack. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.

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