An optimistic outlook on life can make a great difference. It’s one of the essential steps you can take to dramatically improve the quality of your life. Optimism helps you to see the world in a much more positive light. But it also enables you to spend your time in a much more constructive manner, instead of worrying too much about things that are not that important. For me, developing a more positive outlook helped me to gradually transform my life. Certainly, there were drawbacks and a great number of obstacles. But overall, it helped me to become a more optimistic and focused person. This article discusses 15 of the most effective strategies to be more positive. With the right techniques at hand, diligence and practice, you can quickly learn to be a more positive person.
Unfortunately, the power of positive thinking is highly underestimated. Thinking positively has been ridiculed ever since its introduction to the mainstream by Norman Vincent Peale in 1952. However, various scientific studies have indicated that being optimistic and positive can have a great number of benefits. One particular study conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University highlighted that well-balanced positivity provides physical and psychological well-being. Further studies found that it could increase pain tolerance and decrease feelings of loneliness.
The impact of being positive becomes even more important when considering that thoughts and emotions cause biochemical reactions in the entire body. This means that our mindsets and emotions affect our bodies – even on a cellular level. Along the lines of “what you think you become,” it is therefore all the more important to develop a healthy mindset and attitude.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
We may not always be able to change what happens to us in life. But luckily for us, we can always choose how these situations influence us. We always have the choice of interpreting these events in a positive and balanced manner. By doing so, we start regaining control of the inner world of emotions and thoughts, which helps us to deal with external circumstances in a more beneficial way. And in turn, by changing your thoughts and attitudes, your life will transform accordingly.
But the question is, what can you do to become a more positive person? The following will present some of the most effective tips and strategies designed to help you in changing your life.
How to Be More Positive
1. Discover positivity in negative situations
I believe that the ability to establish an optimistic outlook in a negative situation is tremendously important. In my experience, it can make all the difference.
A great saying that I live by goes like this:
“Everything happens for a reason. Everything leads to something more positive.”
The saying gives me strength during times of great struggle. It also encourages me to have a much more optimistic outlook about the difficult situation I’m confronted with.
Instead of tormenting myself about what happened, this mindset helps me to understand that whatever is happening happens for a good reason. I may initially not always understand why I’m confronted with these difficulties. But I know that they are there to teach me something. I may not know the particular lesson, but it is certainly intended to help me grow. And I know that I will emerge from these difficulties a little bit stronger and wiser than I was before.
From my personal experience, I can say that many wonderful new opportunities started to present themselves during negative situations.
We only need the courage to see these new opportunities as what they are.
When you’re confronted with a negative situation, it’s incredibly difficult to remain a positive attitude. For this reason, it’s important to shift your focus to a more optimistic viewpoint. You can do this by asking yourself questions such as:
- What can I learn from this situation?
- What is this event trying to teach me?
- What is positive about what happened to me?
- What is one new opportunity that emerged from this situation?
You might not want to ask yourself these questions right away. In most situations, it’s advisable to let things settle a little bit. These questions are not that effective if you’re still highly upset and emotionally involved with what happened to you.
You can further increase the benefits of this exercise with a retrospective evaluation of negative occurrences in your life. Looking at these situations in hindsight can help you to see what happened to you in a different (and more positive) light. It can also support you in looking at things more rationally. Doing so can help you to see things from a different perspective. And it might also allow you to discover the great many positive aspects that emerged from a negative situation you were confronted with.
The retrospective evaluation, in turn, helps you to grow more optimistic and confident about challenges and difficult times. It will help you to understand that important lessons and positivity can be found even in negative situations.
2. Rid your life of negativity
If you want to be a more positive person, it’s only a logical step to address the negativity-problem. Especially in the beginning, it’s incredibly difficult to be more positive, if you’re continuously surrounded by negativity. It is therefore all the more important to identify and eliminate as many negative aspect of your life as possible. This will help you to clear your mind of negative influences. And it will also help you to build a more positive life on a stable fundament. Those that neglect this important step are trying to build on a rotten fundament, which almost always ends in tragedy.
In order to avoid this, try to identify the various different sources of negativity in your life. This kind of identification process should not necessarily be only limited to negative people. Instead, it should also include the identification of destructive/unbeneficial habits and the replacement of those with more positive habits.
Furthermore, you should also address negative behaviors, thinking patterns and attitudes. It’s also advisable to pay close attention to your media consumption (TV, movies, internet and news). Look at the particular subjects you concern yourself with and see if they provide any real benefits. If not, consider removing these influences, especially when they are highly negative in nature. A lot of negativity stems from our imbalanced media consumption, so that’s definitely one aspect you may want to address.
I experienced this first hand, when I developed the (not that beneficial) habit of watching one or two hours of TV, before going to bed. I hadn’t done this for years, but I slowly picked up the negative habit once more. And before I realized, I had been watching TV almost every evening for more than 1 ½ months. It was accompanied by a couple of negative developments in my life. I noticed that I had greater difficulties at falling asleep. My general outlook on life became less optimistic and I couldn’t stop worrying about the future. In general, I quickly became a less positive person than I was before. I was all the more impressed of the powerful impact that breaking this negative habit had on my life.
As you can see, minor changes can have a great impact. They can help you to quickly become more optimistic and positive. You only need the mental strength to see things through. Leave no stone unturned. Discover and rid your life of as many negative aspects as possible. Consider carefully what you allow access to your life and mind.
This, however, doesn’t mean you should create a purple bubble around yourself. It’s also not meant as an incentive to start living in a fantasy world where everything is fine and dandy. The process of ridding your life from negativity is intended as a means to identify sources of negativity that are preventing you to a great degree from being a positive person.
3. Practice gratitude
The cultivation of gratefulness is quite possibly one of the easiest ways to quickly become a lot more positive. Despite its seemingly simplistic nature, the effect of gratitude on your overall well-being and your positive outlook on life is quite powerful. No exaggeration here.
The practice of gratitude can effectively shift your attention away from discontent and negativity. What it does is to center your focus on the aspects of your life for which you are grateful for. In many cases, it seems like we’ve totally forgotten all the marvelous wonders of our lives. For some people, gratefulness is something they haven’t experienced in years. Over time, they became so fed up with desperately trying to satiate their appetites that they are no longer able to truly appreciate what they already have.
Gratefulness can prove especially helpful when considering that disappointment and the feeling of not having enough contribute a great deal of negative feelings to our lives.
Gratefulness can be used to overcome this problem. It helps you to raise your awareness of the joys of your own life. It also centers your attention on the present moment. By doing so it helps you to realize how wonderful your life already is. Even further, the regular practice of gratitude can help you realize that you already have everything you need to be a happy and positive person.
Another important effect of being grateful is that it makes you content. So instead of continuously seeking evermore – which can cause quite a lot of disappointment and negativity – you quickly learn to enjoy what you already have.
Practicing gratitude is really simple. You could, for instance, write down a list of all the things in your life you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal. Simply think about all the magnificent aspects of your life you would normally take for granted. Be grateful that you have enough food to eat and water to drink. Be happy that you have shelter and that it protects you from rain, coldness and/or heat. Be thankful that you are healthy and for your family and friends who love you for who you are. There are so many other great ideas you could log in your gratitude journal.
Being grateful really isn’t that the complicated. Simply find as many aspects in your life for which you are grateful and regularly remind yourself of these things.
4. Cultivate a positive environment
In #2 of this list (Rid your life of negativity), we’ve already addressed the importance of erasing the major sources of negativity from your life. But once you’ve made significant progress in this task, it’s equally important to refill your life with beneficial and positive elements. Doing so will make the transition from negativity to positivity much easier for you.
For instance, if you’ve stopped watching a specific TV show that is causing a great deal of negativity and pessimism in your life, it’s important to find something to replace it with. Mind you, this does not necessarily have to be another TV show. It can be a book or any other leisure activity. In general, you should seek alternatives that arouse your curiosity and interest. Look out for alternatives that inspire and challenge you.
By introducing a variety of beneficial activities you spend your time with, you can significantly change your outlook on life. Spend less time with activities that drain you and replace them with more positive sources.
Similarly, the people you spend time with have a great impact on your mood. If you live around people who are naturally optimistic and have a positive outlook on life, you’ll automatically be a lot more positive when you’re around them. Similarly, people who are excessively negative can drag you down. If you want to stay a positive person, it’s necessary to surround yourself with other positive people.
5. Have a positive posture
There exists an intrinsic connection between body and mind. It’s therefore not too much of a surprise that the link between posture and attitude/mood has already been well established by scientists. Interestingly enough, various studies have highlighted that your body posture can make you happier, more confident and less risk-averse.
If you’re struggling to get into a more positive mindset, see if changing your body posture can help. In almost all cases, you will quickly notice a difference!
6. Make use of positive affirmations
The more often you hear a specific message, the more likely you are to accept it. It is the very reason why crafty marketers and skilled politicians use certain phrases excessively. While this is certainly manipulative, it can also be modified to your benefit. The very same principles used for manipulating people can help you to impregnate certain beliefs and attitudes on your mind. The key to accomplishing this lies in making use of positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations provide another effective method of becoming more positive. The basic idea behind affirmations is to establish more beneficial beliefs through constant repetition of certain phrases. By repeating these statements several times, you are progressively talking yourself into believing them. Or rather, you are convincing your mind that these statements are true.
In this sense, affirmations help us to restructure our brains. They allow us to develop more confidence in ourselves and to be more positive about life. It’s a gradual process by means of which we create “inner truths” that are gradually reflected in the world around us. This means that by convincing your mind that you’re a positive person, your behaviors will slowly start to reflect this change of your mindset.
Another beneficial effect from using positive affirmations is that they help you to break free from negativity. By using affirmations, you’ll become more aware of negative, dysfunctional or unbeneficial thought patterns. Once you’ve identified these, it’s a lot easier to restructure your brain with more supportive and positive beliefs and attitudes.
For the beginning, you can pick three or four positive affirmations that you repeat each for at least five minutes. Here are some examples to get you started:
- I am optimistic about the future.
- I am a positive person and feel great about myself.
- I am overflowing with happiness, satisfaction and joy.
- I am a positive thinker.
- I always find positive aspects in every situation.
- I am full of positive thoughts and overflowing with optimism.
- I radiate positive energy.
7. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
What you eat can have a great influence on your mood. We all know how tired we feel after overeating or eating foods with a high level of saturated fat. One simply feels overstuffed, tired and sluggish. What is more, these foods also make you feel quite irritable. Other elements in our nutrition, such as coffee and chocolate, can further lower your energy levels. If such a diet is maintained over the course of several years, it can quite drastically reduce a person’s outlook on life.
It is also known that there are certain key nutrients (i.e. B vitamins, fiber and omega-3 fats) that lift your spirits. By maintaining a healthy diet, you can do your part in helping your body to stabilize blood sugar levels and to improve nerve functioning. By choosing nutrient-rich foods you can make an important contribution to becoming more positive.
8. Meditate / Be mindful
Meditation is in my opinion THE single most effective technique you can apply to quickly become a more positive person. If you were to ask me about my personal favorite, I would definitely choose meditation. There’s no other technique that helps you to address the issue from so many different angles. So if you’re looking for only one method to substantially increase your positive outlook on life, pick meditation.
But don’t take my word for it. Various scientific studies have proven beyond a shadow of doubt how effective meditation can be. Meditation can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depession. It can also increase positive emotions, as shown by a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine. These are only examples. There are far more studies on the subject of meditation and its benefits.
In short, meditation can effectively help you to be more positive. The fact that mindfulness/meditation addresses a wide variety of problems further adds to its effectiveness.
On a side note, meditation does not have to involve sitting in a lotus position for hours. All you need is a comfortable position – make sure your back is straight – in which you can relax and focus on your thoughts. In the beginning, you can start slowly by practicing for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Just see how long you can comfortably meditate and go with that.
9. Be kind
Far too often, our focus is heavily self-centered. We are so absorbed with the challenges of our own lives that we entirely forget about those around us. And if we’re not careful, we place far too much importance on problems that are in reality pretty insignificant. Not only does this waste energy, but it also increases our likelihood for negativity.
Sometimes, some kind of reality check can be really helpful. It can help us to realize that the difficulties we’re confronted with are not that bad and that it could be much worse.
Kindness can provide such a refreshing reality check. It helps you to step outside your daily routines and enables you to broaden your perspective. By helping someone, you can gain a refreshingly new perspective on your own life. Besides that, being kind to someone can warm your heart and will definitely fill you with positivity.
As astonishingly as this sounds, kindness can even make you happy. Scientists found that random acts of kindness help you to boost happiness and make you feel good.
10. Slow things down
Stress can have a wide variety of side effects. These include anxiety and depression. But the emergence of negative thoughts can also be a result of being stressed.
In many cases, it can be really helpful to go a little bit more slowly about your businesses. Take yourself some time to slow things down, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Whatever it is you’re doing, try to take the stress out of it by going more slowly about it. You will see that it helps you to calm your mind and body.
11. “Trick” your mind by smiling more often
Another simple, yet effective trick to quickly become more positive is the act of smiling. When you smile (even if there’s nothing to smile about) you can effectively change how you feel inside. Smiling tricks your mind into thinking that something positive is going on. In short, smiling helps you to quickly change your mood. The best thing about smiling is that you can do it (almost) anywhere and everywhere. Simply see for yourself how your mind reacts once you start smiling for no good reason.
12. Confront negative thoughts
With every single negative thought that arises, we have to decide how we’re going to respond to it. In most cases, we’re not even consciously aware of its suggestive nature. We therefore blindly accept what the negative thought is trying to suggest. Even worse, if we are not careful enough, we start dwelling on it for hours.
Unfortunately, our brains are wired to place far too much importance on negative situations. What is worse, they make these events seem much more devastating than they originally are. It goes without saying that this can become a huge obstacle towards becoming more positive in life.
But what can be done about it? By distancing ourselves from the negative thought we can take the first step towards a higher level of control. In this stage it is important to separate yourself from the thought. Realize that whatever the thought implies does not necessarily have to be true. This can be quite important, as it helps you to understand that the thought can be highly subjective and overtly critical.
The second step consists of questioning and confronting the negative thought. In most cases, we tend to be confronted with unjust comparisons or simply untrue statements. It is therefore important to question the nature of the thought. Understand how unproductive or even untruthful it is. Once you’ve realize this, you can work in the third stage on a gentler statement that is more supportive and closer to the truth.
13. Learn to deal with criticism
Another important aspect of overcoming negativity lies in learning to deal with criticism. If we’re unable to establish a healthy attitude towards criticism, it can greatly increase negativity. On the one hand, we will be more likely to be afraid of criticism. On the other hand, we will be more likely to experience negative emotions when confronted with criticism. For these two reasons, it’s crucial not to take criticism personally.
And let’s face it, criticism cannot be avoided. It’s therefore all the more important to find ways that help us to better deal with criticism. Important steps towards being able to better cope with criticism are:
- Listen careful to the criticism.
- Understand what the criticism is all about.
- Evaluate if your critic is right / if there’s some truth to the criticism.
- If unjustified: Let go of the criticism.
- If justified: Discover the lesson that needs to be learned.
- Assess what can be done to avoid similar mistakes.
14. Keep a positivity journal
A journal can help you to maintain a good overview of your emotional household. If you journal regularly, you can quickly see if your emotions are in balance. If not, then the Journal can help you to identify those areas that need adjustment.
It’s not even difficult to keep a journal. Simply grab a notebook or open a file on your computer and start writing down the variety of different emotions you’ve experienced throughout the day. You could highlight positive emotions with one specific color, so that you can quickly assess if the ratio is in balance.
Just make sure not to pause on judgment on the negative emotions you’ve experienced. Instead, try to be more distanced without evaluating these experiences as either good or bad. Simply write down how you felt in the situation without judgment.
The next (optional) step consists of evaluating your response in that particular situation. If you come to the conclusion that your response was not particularly helpful, see if you can find more beneficial responses to similar kinds of stressors.
15. Don’t sweat the small stuff
We are worrying far too much about things of little importance. Take a step back and broaden your perspective. If you place too much importance on even the slightest tassels, they will quickly accumulate. And this can take a severe toll.
The truth is, the majority of the daily challenges we’re confronted with will be forgotten within less than a month. So why bother about it excessively? Try to stay calm and reframe the circumstances are confronted with. Don’t allow vague fears about the future to freak you out. Instead, try to focus on the present. Focus not so much on the problem, but on how you can solve the problem.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article on how to be positive.