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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Stop Being Negative About Everything in Life

How to Stop Being Negative About Everything in Life

For many people, being negative is just a part of life. Maybe they’ve been negative their whole life or some recent event knocked them sideways, and now they’ve just come to accept that way of thinking, but this article will show you how to stop being negative.

Not only do you have news and social media working hard to flood you with sensationalized stories each day, but you also have your own mindset working against you. We each have our own inherent negativity bias[1] where the bad stuff tends to stay around much longer in our mind than anything positive. This was a survival mechanism back in hunter-gatherer times, but no longer serves us.

Always being negative is something that you can train yourself out of with a little bit of practice and perseverance. You can attract more positivity into your life.

1. Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude can take many forms. You can simply take a look around you and make a mental note of everything you are grateful for. Soon, you will start to realize how good you’ve got it.

Generally speaking, the more creative and big-thinking you can get with your gratitude practice, the better. If you’re in your room, you can be grateful that you have a bed, a roof over your head, soft sheets and a nice pillow. If you’re in a coffee shop, you can be grateful for the pleasant atmosphere, the taste of coffee on your tongue, and so on.

Your gratitude and happiness are only limited by your imagination.

2. Realize What You Can and Can’t Control

A big reason for getting upset is you may not realize what you can and can’t control. Letting go of the things that you can’t control, and doing your best with what you can, are some of the keys to living a more positive life.

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You may see an awful event happen on the news. It’s tragic, but is there anything you can do about it? No, but you are still left with a lingering sense of negativity when you turn the TV off.

Whether it be events in the past or in the future, the answer is always the same: if you can control it, why worry? If you can’t control it, why worry?

3. Cut Off the Negative Sources That Feed You

As briefly mentioned earlier, negative sources in your life are likely feeding you a large amount of negativity. The longer and more frequently you get your fixes from them, the longer you’re going to be negative about everything.

Some of the most common sources of negative energy are the news, social media, toxic friends and toxic relationships. As a general rule of thumb, if someone complains more often than they are enthusiastic, they are adding a net-negative influence on your life. You should re-evaluate what they are doing to your mental health.

4. Practice Mindfulness Meditation

It would be quite naive to think that negativity is something that can be permanently banished. Nobody can be 100% positive all the time, nor should they be expected to be. Negativity, while it can be reduced significantly, isn’t something that you should want to completely eliminate from your life.

That is where mindfulness meditation comes in. This form of practice is all about not engaging with or becoming identified with thoughts. Instead, you watch thoughts come and go, as if from someplace further back. It may sound a bit woo-woo at first, but mindfulness meditation has plenty of scientific evidence[2] to back up the benefits.

When you’re able to take a step back from your thoughts and feelings, you can watch them without judgement, and without getting caught up in a net of strong emotions. The same is true for negativity, which is just a series of thoughts like any other. With a little bit of practice, you will be able to feel a negative emotion come on. You can then say hello and watch it drift by, only to be replaced by another thought. How good does that sound?

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Negativity and negative thoughts only stick around for as long as you hold onto them.

5. Try Journaling Your Thoughts

If you are negative about everything, your head may be a bit of a mess. You might even be skilled enough to watch your negative emotions arise, but then try to fight them or reason with them. Words, thoughts, and the like all swill around in your brain until you feel overwhelmed.

Breathe.

One of the secrets to becoming a less negative person is to journal your thoughts on a piece of paper. Rather than thinking through everything in your head, see if thinking through writing makes any difference. More often than not, people who are clouded by negativity have the biggest breakthroughs when journaling.

Maybe you write down one thing that is troubling you. You may find more clarity seeing problems and other negative influences written down in front of you.

More often than not, you realize that you were making a much bigger deal of them in your mind than they actually are.

6. Smile (Even if you Have to Force it)

It may sound simple, but forcing yourself to smile is one of the fastest ways to improve your mood and quash negativity within yourself.

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According to an article in Forbes[3] as well as many other scientific papers, simply smiling for a few seconds is enough to change your whole brain chemistry, which of course affects the rest of your body.

A smiling expression triggers the release of the “happiness chemicals” neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine into your brain. They then begin to improve your mood.

If you constantly feel like negative thoughts are weighing you down, give smiling a try.

7. Eat Healthy

It may not come as a surprise that what you put into your body as fuel impacts your mood.  You rarely find an extremely healthy but negative person. If your diet isn’t up to scratch, you can fix that.

According to an article from Harvard Health,[4] the vagus nerve connects the brain and the gut. Because of this, you want to eat more nourishing foods and cut out packaged, processed foods whenever possible.

One recent study[5] suggests that eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding inflammation-producing foods may be protective against depression. Another study[6] lists foods like oysters, watercress and spinach as foods containing the most antidepressant nutrients.

8. Exercise

Just like eating the right foods, exercise is another cheap and reliable way to turn your negative self-image into a more positive one. You don’t even need access to fancy weights or a flashy indoor bike to get the benefits, all you need is your running shoes and a little bit of willingness to change.

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There is no shortage of scientific articles linking exercise to a better mood and a more positive outlook on the world. According to Better Health,[7] exercise has a whole host of connections with mood including:

1. Exercise helps chronic depression by increasing serotonin (which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (which helps neurons to grow).

2. Exercise reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse.

3. Exercise increases your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters

4. Exercise helps by getting your sleep patterns back to normal. We know getting enough sleep can protect the brain from damage.

Whenever you feel yourself becoming more negative than you would like to be, get your sweat on and see how you feel once you resume normal life!

You Can Beat Negativity!

Of course, none of these pointers will do you much good if you don’t believe. You now know how to stop being negative, but in order to change, you must believe you can.

With these eight effective tools at your disposal, you now know how to stop being negative and start becoming the more positive person you want to be.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Daniel Riley

Daniel is a writer who specialises in personal development and helping others become the best version of themselves.

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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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