Don Dulin is the first to admit even he doesn’t feel like a big ball of sunshine all the time, but he says when he puts the effort into staying positive, he reaps the benefits not only in his personal life, but professionally as well.

Most of us not only deal with criticism from others, but also the criticism we dole out to ourselves, he says. We all need to become better at lifting ourselves up and staying positive.

So he started his blog, Breath of Optimism, to share the power of positive thinking with others.

“From the moment we wake up, we set the tone for our day,” he says. “If we start off with negative thoughts, we will subconsciously focus on all of the negative things around us. Even when a great thing happens, we will find that sliver of negative.”

But Don says life is precious and we only get one shot at it, so why not take control of and live the best one ever?

Amen, Don.

Here, he shares how positive thinking has affected his life and how it’s allowed him to build his audience and his brand.

Tell us about your site, Breath of Optimism; when and why did you start it?

I started the site in January of 2013. At the time, I had a personal finance blog and was looking to start another blog on another topic. I was making lists of the things I am passionate about, and positive thinking came to mind. After thinking it over for a day, I came home from work, bought the domain and began the site.

Have you always been a positive person? If not, what caused your transformation?

Not always. In 2007, I had a rough end to a relationship and I became depressed. I was stuck in depression for a little over year when my sister gave me a book on CD about how our thoughts become things. It resonated with me and my outlook began to change. Over the following weeks and months, I noticed that as I thought more positive thoughts and noticed the positive things around me, I was a much happier and optimistic person.

Today, I still talk about how focusing on the positive side of life is important. You have to find the positive in every situation in life. Once you go down a path, either positive or negative, you tend to stay in that mindset.

What are some habits everyone should get into to live a more positive life?

There are three big ones, and luckily, they are really easy to do! The key is to remember to do them!

First, when you wake up in the morning, no matter how tired you are, you need to set the tone for the day. Say to yourself, “Thank you for this great day and all of the good things that are in my life.” Saying this simple verse will set you on a positive path for the day.

Next, make a point to be thankful when good things happen to you, regardless of how insignificant they might seem. Did you hit the green light instead of a red? Simply say “thank you” to yourself or aloud. Maybe you thought you lost a saved document you were working on you computer. When you find it, be thankful for it. Doing this reinforces your positive mindset and helps you to keep finding good things in life.

Finally, before you fall asleep, run through your day and acknowledge the great things that happened to you. When I do this, I make a point to list specific things, not generalize the entire day. I also think about the negative things that happened to me and find a way to put a positive spin on them. This helps me to go to bed a positive person and helps me in the morning to wake up expecting great things.

What sorts of habits are detrimental to our happiness?

I touched on these before. First, you have to be nice to yourself. Stop criticizing and putting yourself down. You are special and beautiful just the way you are. You have to learn to love yourself. Second, you need to focus on the positive things that happen in your life. Anything positive, no matter how small, should be acknowledged. From there, you need to start working on turning negative situations into positive ones. If you are stuck in traffic, don’t get upset. Focus on listening to your favorite radio station some more or use the extra time you now have to think about a project at work or to call a loved one.

Last, understand that you won’t be positive 100 percent of the time. There will always be negative things that happen to us, and we will still get in bad moods. Even I still do. No one is perfect. When bad things happen, you need to start focusing on the positive. It’s OK when negativity enters your mind, just don’t allow for it to take up residence. It’s like seeing someone you have no interest in talking to. You acknowledge them, but you don’t invite them over for dinner.

How do you think optimism and positive thinking have helped you grow your brand?

Starting and running a blog is not easy. Well, starting a blog is fairly easy, but to run one and earn an income is much harder than one thinks. It takes a lot of work and for a while, you are swimming upstream. There are times when it gets tough and you want to give up.

There were many times when I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I kept focusing on the small steps that I was taking and that positive attitude helped me to be successful. It’s like running a marathon. Running over 26 miles isn’t easy, and there are times when you want to quit. But instead of focusing on the 26 miles, focus on one step at a time. By focusing on the small aspects of the race, you are much more likely to succeed.

One more example is saving for retirement. Experts recommend over $1 million is needed for retirement. The average person looks at their current portfolio balance and gets frustrated thinking their $30,000 will never turn into $1 million. Don’t focus on the $1 million. First, be proud that you saved up $30,000 so far. Then, focus on reaching $50,000. Then focus on $100,000 and so on. Doing this will help fuel your success and will motivate you to keep pushing forward.

What have been your favorite tools or strategies for growing the audience to your site?

There are two main ones. The first is commenting on others’ blogs. This allows me to see other bloggers take on personal development and positive thinking. The second is guest posting. This allows me to post my views to another blogger’s audience. It benefits the other blogger by bringing a fresh voice to their blog, and it benefits me by exposing me to a new audience of readers.

What sorts of content have you found encourages the most conversation and reflection on the site?

The topic of reaching your goals is best for conversation. We all have goals, but many of us have a hard time reaching them. By writing about different approaches you can make to reach you goals, readers have the opportunity to see what works best for them. Unfortunately, one solution does not meet the needs of every individual. It is because of this I write about various ways of reaching goals.

When you need inspiration in your own life or for your business, where do you turn?

I either go for a walk or go to the gym to lift weights. By getting my mind off of the issue at hand, I find that I come up with the solution much easier. When I put too much pressure on myself to find a solution, I get nowhere. By focusing on other things, I allow my mind to “forget” about the issue and let it breathe. What I mean by this is that I fire up other areas of my brain that help to find the solution.

When it comes to exercising and lifting weights, it simply puts me in a great mood. No matter how bad of a day I am having (and we all have bad days), lifting weights releases endorphins, and I come out of the gym a totally different person.

What have been some of your favorite quotes, anecdotes or pieces of advice you’ve heard from readers?

The best piece of advice from a reader has been a reminder that life is a journey, not a sprint. Along the way we will stumble, fall, get knocked down, etc. The key, though, is to get back up and try again, keep pushing forward, keep working on improving yourself. This is how you should live your life.

Think about learning to ride a bike. No one jumps on a bike and is riding right away. We all fall and crash a handful of times before getting the hang of it. If we gave up, no one would be riding bikes today. Likewise, if inventors gave up after their first try, we would still be living in the dark ages. Remember, we are human and we make mistakes and fail. The important thing is to keep on trying and working to get better.

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