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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

5 Simple Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

5 Simple Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude

Cultivating a positive mental attitude starts with a realizationa realization that you’re not the only one who has struggled, who has survived, and who has started over again.

You are not alone, and there is a way through the darkness. There is simple wisdom that you can rely on for help.

Find support, but also learn self-care in how you treat yourself, which is what positivity is all about. That self-talk, perception, and attitude you choose change you and those around you.

In a recent study, Stanford researchers looked at how the brain was impacted in achievement and learning when one felt or was positive about a subject. Unsurprisingly, outcomes were much more favorable for that student.[1]

We do well in areas we are positive about. But what if we can choose to be positive about, well, anything? That would change everything.

Positivity is not about just being happy, which is often the misconception. In fact, acknowledging a range of emotions is healthy. Positivity is persistence while using positive thinking strategies. It is sitting with your feelings, accepting what is, holding on to what makes you happy, and finding purpose in pain.

Here are 5 steps to cultivate a positive mental attitude.

1. Know That You Can Change Your Attitude

Maya Angelou once said:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

When you choose positivity as your attitude, you select an attitude far more destined for resilient behavior than the alternative.

When you have a negative attitude, your brain gives itself permission to develop negative thinking patterns, and, in turn, difficult and dark emotions. You spend all your days ruminating or worrying about the same thing over and over again, thinking that will solve it. Doing this will cause you to miss the answers rather than make the most out of the moments in front of you.

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In actuality, the first thing you need to do is calm yourself. It feels counterintuitive, but that means releasing your troubled mentality. When you release what is bothering you, you choose a safer attitude.

Attitude is everything. It’s how we heal ourselves, stay positive, and overcome challenges.

Without a positive attitude, we cannot persevere; Perseverance is the point of positivity.

Positivity denotes willpower. You can be standing in a storm and feel completely calm when you use positivity. Even if you get pushed down, you get back up again.

A positive mental attitude is about understanding you have power over your problems. Once you understand that, you can change your attitude. You have to choose positive thinking first to reap its benefits.

2. Find Your Unique Meaning in Life

When you have lost it all, a positive mental attitude can help you regain the strength to find your purpose again. It’s the best way to live and learn.

Recognizing the power you have to carry on, make the best of things, and to keep going when everything inside you wants to quit will lead to more success.

You can’t always have it all, but you can always cultivate positive energy. That power keeps you grounded and safe.

For example, say you lost someone to a disease. Instead of just thinking about the loss and seeing it as the end, a positive person may decide to contribute to a cause dedicated to that disease. In doing so, the positive person becomes a beacon of hope, which gives them power over their hardship through positive emotions.

This is how people keep going: meaning. Meaning creates power over our emotions so that they do not define us.

Positivity affects one’s stress levels and overall health.[2] When you are positive about a situation, you are less stressed and calmer and can reason better to solve the problem in front of you.

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Cultivating this power is about realizing that a sense of meaning can be derived from all circumstances, even senseless tragedies.

You don’t always have to have a reason for why something happens, but you can use whatever happens for a greater cause.

“Whatever purifies you is the right path, I will not try to define it. Let go of your mind then be mindful. Close your ears and listen.” -Rumi

3. Be Absolutely Present

In life, you have control over your ability to be present in the moment if you spend time practicing mindfulness.

A positive mental attitude is telling yourself that this moment is what matters. You can’t regret the past or see the future. The only way to be positive is to be here.

What do you have right in front of you that you are grateful for? Listing what makes us happy in a gratitude journal is one way to start developing a positive mindset[3].

Be present to cultivate a positive mental attitude

    Some techniques to getting there are through meditations or mantras.

    For example, “Nothing bad is happening right now” is an easy one to incorporate. Your past traumas can’t trip you when you ground yourself in the present, and your ability to reason further develops to the point that even if you can’t see the future, you know it will play out like thiswith you empowered and in the moment, using all your wisdom and tools and positivity to persevere.[4]

    Think about the past and future in small, manageable doses, but focus mostly on the present. This will reduce worrying, stress, and other negative emotions significantly.

    If you can’t seem to get grounded in the now, try mindfulness meditation.

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    4. Practice Self-Love

    Self-talk is the core of self-lovethe core of what a positive mental attitude is all about. We have to help ourselves first before we can help others.

    What we say to ourselves is how we practice positivity or put it into action.

    For example, there’s a children’s book called The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, where the train thinks, “I think I can, I think I can” throughout its journey. Of course, it was able to complete the difficult moments along its route.

    This is also how self-love works. What you tell yourself is powerful and makes its mark.

    Here are examples of things you could tell yourself to practice positivity: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

    When you write these positive mantras, you start to feel them. If you write “I am positive about this situation” enough times, you will start to feel that positivity seep in.

    Loving yourself is not going to be easy and cannot be done overnight. There will be a mess of feelings, regrets, negative self-talk, and more that you will have to carefully tiptoe through to hold your own heart.

    Your heart needs love, and often we deny what it needs in pursuit of purposeless pleasures, such as external rewards rather than internal motivation for a life well-lived.

    Loving yourself needs to come from an authentic place, not a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality. You have to start within and do the work necessary to heal and be healthy. Try these 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

    5. Avoid Toxic Positivity

    Avoid the white-knuckling type of positivity where you don’t acknowledge your struggles or pain (as they also serve you). You don’t just want to tell yourself to move on because that equates to repression.

    Emotions are part of positivity. You want to sit with your feelings, acknowledge them, and give them a voice. Instead of telling yourself to move on, let your emotions lead to a breakthrough that helps you cope with the changes in life[5].

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    Avoid toxic positive for a positive mental attitude

      The greatest misconception made about being positive is assuming one does not have to feel in order to change. Throwing away hurt, anger, grief, sadness, and all those emotions we associate with being “negative” only thwart our growth and power.

      Positivity is not about wearing a mask; it is the opposite of a mask. It is freedom from negative thinking strategies such as jumping to conclusions, black or white thinking, worst-case scenario assumptions, and more. It’s acknowledging that there may be more strength or ability in you than previously assumed.

      Toxic positivity may suggest you simply put a smile on and act fine. That’s not real positivity.

      Healthy positivity is about showing up when you’re tired; loving when you are feeling loss; healing when you want to cling to your hurt. It’s the realization that you are worth it, not worth writing off.

      Final Thoughts

      You’re not going to want to develop a positive mental attitude every second of every day. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel, but even then, recognizing the power of positivity will better your days and see you through your trials.

      Positivity is about being curious enough to stay for the outcome because you simply believe, hold onto, and trust in yourself and some goodness in this world. That’s enough to keep one going, and enough to help them go from surviving to thriving.

      You can start at any time. Positivity can be like a switch of perception. Once you uplift yourself, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. And soon, you’ll be onto uplifting others, which helps even more.

      Positivity is contagious and great for your mental health. It spreads like sunlight over the darkness, and you can be the source of that sunlight.

      More About Having a Positive Mental Attitude

      Featured photo credit: Court Prather via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Sarah Browne

      Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

      5 Simple Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 10 Self-Exploration Practices to Discover Your True Self 14 Personal Goals for a Better You Next Year 7 Self-Soothing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety Relief 5 Ways to Help You Get Through Depression

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      Published on April 15, 2021

      How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

      How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

      When life gets tough and you are facing big obstacles, it is so hard to be an optimistic person. As we try to deal with these challenges, our feelings tend to be consumed by fear, frustration, and disillusionment. Inertia and indecisiveness overwhelm us, and being optimistic is the last thing we feel like being.

      “I think I am going to have to supercharge my optimism to arm myself for the battle ahead.”—Rebecca Bloom

      Why Is It Important to Be an Optimist?

      Being optimistic is one of the best ways in which you can deal with the hard knocks in life. Having an optimistic outlook on life also has amazing health benefits as well.

      Scientific research shows us that staying in a place where we feel fearful and disillusioned—where we have no energy and no hope—is not good for our overall wellbeing.

      “Optimism helps people cope with disease[s] and recover from surgery. Even more impressive is the impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity. Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.”[1]

      Your Power of Choice Is Key to Living an Optimistic Life

      Although you may not be born a natural optimist, using your power of choice wisely can help you develop an optimistic attitude that will enable you to defy any odds that are against you. You are the only person who has control over whether you want to be optimistic or not! As the Dalai Lama has said, “choose to be optimistic it feels better!”

      I love this quote from Neale Donald Walsch as he explains very clearly how the power of choice can be used by you to get the results you want:

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      “Therefore, be honest with yourself as to why you are choosing to do a particular thing. Then, do it gladly, knowing that you are always getting to do what you want. The statement “I have no choice” is a lie. You can choose. You simply do not prefer the alternatives available to you, for whatever reason. So you select the outcome that you most prefer.”—Neale Donald Walsch

      Being an optimist opens you up to exploring new ideas, new experiences, and new possibilities. It frees you up to consider new options for how you can live your life for the better. It helps you look to the future with hope and positivity.

      What Is Optimism?

      The definition of optimism, according to Elizabeth Scott MS, is that it is “a mental attitude characterized by hope and confidence in success and a positive future. Optimists are those who expect good things to happen, where pessimists instead predict unfavorable outcomes.”[2]

      However, being an optimist does not necessarily mean that you will be able to successfully deal with the challenges of life. Having a positive mindset along with an optimistic outlook enhances your chances to defy the odds and challenges you face in life.

      What Is Positive Mindset?

      The Oxford dictionary definition of optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something” while positivity is defined as “the practice of being, or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.”

      Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. Positive thinking is an emotional and mental attitude that focuses on the good and expects results that will benefit you. It’s about anticipating happiness, health, and success—essentially, training yourself to adopt an abundance mindset and cultivate gratitude for your own successes and those of others

      Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. You can’t be an optimist and not have a positive mindset.

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      To defy the odds and sustain an optimistic and positive outlook Gabriele Oettingen, a motivation researcher at New York University and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, believes that it is not just about having happy thoughts—but it is actually planning for and anticipating those positive outcomes that get us results.

      She describes optimism as having positive expectations about the future based on past experiences and positive thinking as wishful dreaming, which is not a bad thing if applied correctly!

      She believes that if we apply optimism (which is a personality trait), we inherit with positive thinking (which is a choice we make) what Oettingen calls “mental contrasting,” which is important for motivation and setting in motion unconscious cognitive processes that are important in goal attainment.[3]

      3 Strategies on How to Be an Optimistic Person

      Applying these 3 strategies will help you to defy the odds you face in life while still being an optimistic person with a positive mindset.

      1. Use the WOOP Model

      Gabriele Oettingen combined her ideas with those of fellow researcher Peter Gollwitzer, and they came up with a motivation exercise called WOOP.

      Using the WOOP Model, you work on goal attainment by applying these 4 steps:[4]

      1. Wishing for something you’d like to achieve.
      2. Imagining a good outcome.
      3. Examining the obstacles that might get in your way.
      4. Coming up with a plan for overcoming those obstacles.

      Research results conducted by Gabriele Oettingen have shown that employing WOOP is more successful than positive thinking alone in helping people to fulfill their desired goals.[5]

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      Knowing how to activate your positive and optimistic outlook on life to get the results you want is key to you building your resilience to manage the hard knocks and challenges that life throws at you. Having a positive outlook on life takes work and the WOOP model is a framework that you can use to put your goals into action so that you can start to feel good about achieving the goals you set in life.

      2. Cultivate a Positive and Optimistic Mindset

      Adopting a positive mindset can help us get through difficult times. However, if we are not careful, we can tend to focus on thinking positive thoughts and banishing all negative ones. This can be exhausting and not a realistic way to deal with life’s challenges

      I believe that the combination of a positive mindset and an optimistic view of life that is realistic is the secret weapon to successfully dealing with the obstacles and pitfalls we face in life.

      Here are 4 things that you could do now that would enable you to grow and sustain a positive and optimistic mindset:

      1. Once a day, share positive feedback with a minimum of three people—work colleague, partner, children, friend, or anyone that you meet on the day. Making other people feel positive has lasting effects on your own life.
      2. Every morning when you wake up and at night just before you go to bed, praise yourself and reflect on all the positive things that happened to you during the day. Keep a journal and note down at least three positive things that you did today or are grateful for.
      3. Imagine a positive future for you – get a journal, and for seven days, write down all the great things you want to happen—tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year! This is the first step to dreaming big with an optimistic outlook on life!
      4. Consider a serious challenge or obstacle you are facing in your life right now and write down at least five possible positive outcomes. This exercise allows you to look at your challenges with an optimistic and positive mindset.

      3. Recognize Negative Thinking

      When you are dealing with challenging times and it feels like the odds are against you, it is hard to maintain an optimistic outlook on your life. You can’t push away or bury your negative feelings—what you resist will persist.

      The best way to be optimistic despite the challenges you are facing is to acknowledge that bad things happen. Ignoring your reality isn’t helpful. Being realistic about your situation is important to you working out how to best work with the difficult situation you are facing. A healthy and realistic outlook of your life is a great way to accept that all you can do is your best and that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome.

      When you are thinking negatively, take a moment to assess how realistic your thoughts are. Reframe your negative thoughts into more realistic statements that can help you maintain an optimistic view of the future and potential solutions.

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      Final Thoughts

      As an optimist, you believe in hope, opportunities, and a brighter future. Choosing to be an optimist is a choice that comes with surprising benefits. Scientific research has shown that an optimistic and positive view of life allows you to live a healthier and happy life, despite the odds that are against you![6] When you are trying to be optimistic, especially when the odds are against you, having a positive thinking mindset is a secret ingredient to you successfully riding that rollercoaster of life!

      Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. There is no doubt that the more optimistic you are about life the happier you will be.

      Applying the three strategies above will help you to remain an optimist while successfully navigating your way through the challenges and tough times in your life.

      “True hopefulness and optimism are what leads one to dare. It is also what lifts one back up to dare again after a failed attempt.”—Bibi Bourelly

      More Tips on Being More Positive

      Featured photo credit: Hudson Hintze via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health
      [2] VeryWellMind: What Is Optimism?
      [3] Positive Psychology: What Is Mental Contrasting and How to Benefit From It?
      [4] WOOP: What is WOOP?
      [5] Greater Good Magazine: Can Positive Thinking Really Make Dreams Come True?
      [6] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health

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