How to be positive when it’s obviously easier said than done? The real reason staying positive is such a challenge is that, according to experts, we are innately driven to look for threats. It is the essence of survival. As useful as it is, this mechanism can also work against us. What we perceive as threats actually makes them more rather than less likely to occur.
How do I become a more positive person?
Maintaining positivity requires attention and focus. You must make efforts to stay positive and overcome your natural inclination to look for negative things. There is a good reason for this – pessimism is bad for your health. A number of studies have shown that pessimists are less healthy than optimists in practically every way.
Here are 11 powerful habits that positive, healthy people have.
1. Be Grateful for What you Have
Several studies link positive emotions to gratitude and overall well-being. Write in a gratitude journal or listen to music that you enjoy. Share positivity by doing something that makes a loved one happy or sending a thank-you email every day. Acts of kindness can reduce depression, increase happiness, and even prolong your life. They are a big secret to positive thinking.
Why Staying Positive is Important
Researchers have found that being grateful reduces cortisol, a hormone your body secretes when you’re stressed out, by an impressive 23%. Research carried out by the University of California found that those who make consistent efforts to be grateful experience higher energy levels, improved mood, and substantially less anxiety. Take time to focus on the positivity around you every day. Any time you have a pessimistic or negative thought, use it as a sign you need to think about something nice. In time, your positive attitude will become your modus vivendi.
2. Identify Positive Things
How do you stay positive in hard times? It takes practice to snap yourself out of self-defeating rumination. Start by consciously selecting a good thing to think about. Any happy thought will improve your mental focus and help cultivate an overall positive attitude. This is easy when things are going well and you’re in a good mood. When they aren’t, negativity floods your mind. It’s even harder when you’re naturally neurotic, meaning a person who is more prone to suffering from depression and anxiety. This trait is typically inherited, but it doesn’t have to control our lives. In difficult times, think about your day and about one good thing that happened, even if it was minute. If there was nothing good at all about your day – yes, there are such days – think about yesterday or last week, or something nice that you are looking forward to.
Challenge your negative thoughts, beginning with negative self-talk. When it feels like something never or always happens, this is just your brain’s natural inclination to look for threats throwing off the perceived severity or frequency of an event. When you learn to separate thoughts from facts, this will assist you in escaping the cycle of negativity and move toward thinking more positively.
You should always have something positive that you’re prepared to turn attention to when you start having bad thoughts. The next stage is replacing the negative with the positive. If it seems too hard, put your negative thoughts in writing so that you are able to discredit their validity. Some very effective, yet simple steps to take involve asking more helpful questions as often as you can. This way, you’re teaching your overactive brain to build a more positive outlook. When wondering how to be more positive, ask yourself what an opportunity within a bad situation could be and what one good or positive thing about it is instead of how much worse it can get.
These questions might not come naturally to you. Often, you’ll need some time to process the feelings and thoughts that surface in a stressful situation. When you’re still in shock or turmoil, forcing optimistic thinking isn’t likely to work.
3. Choose Companions Wisely
Those who surround you and the input you get from the internet and TV have a huge effect on your mentality. To be more positive and stronger, it is essential that the people in your life offer more support than criticism. Choosing your companions wisely is one of the most important expert tips. Ask yourself who the most negative people or the most negative things (ex. the news) in your life are. Then, consider how to spend less time on these things or with these people, starting today. Also consider how you can spend time freed up with more positive people or on more positive things.
How do you train your mind to think positive?
This brings us to the next of our 11 tips:
4. Take it slow
Going too fast is not likely to help you stay positive. Trying to talk, eat, or even think too fast causes stress, and stress can build up. Negative thoughts about all kinds of things begin welling up and you start feeling like you’re losing power and control. Try slowing down – talking, walking, or eating more slowly. You’ll find your brain and body will calm down too. A constructive and optimistic perspective comes more easily too.
5. Don’t let anxiety hold you back
Often, anxiety stops us from taking chances. We’re afraid to start our own business, to exercise more, or to search for love. Vague fears about what might happen if we took the risk trap us. The brain runs wild, painting worst-case scenarios fuelled by fear. Ask yourself what the worst that can happen is. You might get turned down for a date. You might get turned down for a raise. So what? At least you tried. Plus, someone might reconsider and give you a chance. The surest way to fail is not trying. Realistically, the worst thing that could happen is nowhere near as bad as the scenarios your mind can craft. It doesn’t take much effort or time to find clarity this way and it helps avoid great suffering. Dare to step outside of your comfort zone and make a change. True joy may await you!
6. Improve other people’s lives
This tip can seem paradoxical, because the last thing we think of when we’re struggling to stay positive is how to improve other people’s lives. When we share love, we get love in return. When we share positivity, that’s what we get. You get back from the world what you send out. Of course, this doesn’t happen every time, but what you put out does matter. What you give others and how you treat them is what you’ll get.
What should you do to spread positivity? You could give a classmate a ride to school or university or help someone move. If you know a lot about a certain topic, give people information if they ask for it. If you don’t, ask a friend who does. Sometimes, it’s enough just to listen. Some people are only looking for someone who will listen to them vent. Boosting someone’s mood is easy. Watch an uplifting movie with someone. Say a few kinds words if they’ve had a terrible day or are going through a rough spot in their lives.
7. Don’t Neglect your Health
A good workout or night’s sleep can have tremendous impact when your thoughts turn negative. When you’ve had a nice meal, thinking clearly is much easier. Take care of your health. The ways you manage your habits can make them work for or against you.
8. Start your day with positivity
The way you start your day normally determines its outcome. How you spend your mornings in particular is important as these are the most productive part of the day. If you go full throttle in the morning, you’ll have less strength for the rest of your day and the stressors might pile up. Then, negative thoughts follow. On the other hand, starting the day by reading an inspiring article or having an uplifting talk with a friend or family member will give you a boost lasting the whole day.
9. Know criticism can be healthy
The fear of criticism can keep people from doing what they need in life. Negativity about you is often painful. Being rejected can sting. However, criticism is unavoidable unless you don’t want to take action to meet your needs. It’s possible to handle criticism in a healthy way.
There are certain steps to take so you cope more easily. It’s always a mistake to reply to it right away. When you are upset or angry, take some time to calm down before pressing the reply button. You need a couple of deep breaths so you can process the message before responding. Then, really listen. Keep an open mind and see if you can understand how the message can help you. Ask yourself if there’s anything you can take away from it. Is there something that could assist you that you’d rather not hear? Don’t forget criticism isn’t always personal and don’t let it ruin your day. Some criticism can be helpful, while some is just a form of attack. You’ll know it’s the latter if it’s directed at you and not at something you did.
Ultimately, replying or forgetting the criticism is your choice. Regardless of the content of the message, respond calmly and be amicable. Ask questions if you would like more feedback. If it’s just a malicious attack or the person doesn’t reply, let it go.
10. Don’t exaggerate
It’s all too common to lose grounded perspective, especially when someone’s moving too fast and stressed out. In our minds, a molehill can easily transform into a mountain. There are some simple steps you can take to cope with these situations so they don’t get out of control.
When you start having negative thoughts, say or write “stop.” Then, take a deep breath to calm your body and brain down. Finally, shift your focus to your tendency to exaggerate by sharing with someone close to you. When we share, we obtain a more balanced perspective on the circumstances. Tell yourself none of this will matter in a month.
11. Follow your dreams
On a final note: to stay positive, do something you love. According to researchers, things like taking classes or volunteering for a cause help improve our mood long-term. A lot of studies have shown that the healthiest and most satisfied people are those who feel they lead meaningful lives.