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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up

How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up

Every day we are bombarded with a seemingly endless stream of bad news courtesy of the 24-hour news cycle. So, how to be more positive?

Let’s be real: staying positive can be incredibly difficult in this day and age.

Constantly hearing about tragedies, political unrest, or the impending doom of climate change can be downright exhausting. Fortunately, there are plenty of tried and true methods for taking control of your own life and exuding an infectious positivity that will have you and everyone around you smiling silly.

1. Get an Exercise Routine

One of the most common self-care recommendations you’re likely to hear is that you need to exercise more. Well, I hate to break it to you — because I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it — but it is absolutely true.

First and foremost, there is plenty of evidence that regular exercise can help in the fight against many common mental health ailments like depression and anxiety. Exercise can even help to fend off ailments that come with aging like alzheimer’s and dementia.[1]

While physical activity alone is good for your physical and mental health, making it a routine that you keep up can also be incredibly beneficial way how to be more positive.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is so much more than the self-care buzzword-du-jour that you see popping up in articles left and right or plastered across self-help books in your local bookstore. The truth is, practicing mindfulness is one of the most powerful methods of managing stress and reducing anxiety out there.

In reality, practicing mindfulness is as simple as paying attention to how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and considering why, at that moment, you are feeling the way you feel and thinking those particular thoughts.

Once you’re a pro at living in the moment, you’ll find that it helps you stay grounded and in the moment, keeping you from worrying about things that are out of your control.

3. Find the Funny

Humor is a powerful tool on how to be more positive. Also, learning to find the funny in your life can help to improve your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and battle depression.[2]

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Let me explain what I mean when I talk about finding the funny. Finding the funny doesn’t mean going out to your local comedy club every week (though the comedians would certainly appreciate it) or actively seeking out funny things. It’s actually about being able to find the humor in every aspect of your life, especially during the more challenging and difficult times.

Being able to find the funny in everyday situations will also help you make those around you more relaxed and positive, spreading the good vibes far and wide.

4. Meditation

Meditation is another tried and true method on how to be more positive and reduce stress and anxiety in your life. While meditation was once seemingly relegated to hippy-dippy types, it has officially hit the mainstream, helping a lot of people and, realistically, anyone who has access to YouTube and a desire to practice meditation. [3]

Meditation has been stripped of the mysticism that used to surround it, and with the mysticism went much of the wariness and negative connotations. Meditation is simply the practice of focusing the mind through various exercises to achieve mental and emotional clarity while training attention and awareness.

When you practice meditation, you are really just investing in yourself, taking the time to purposefully look in on what makes you tick and why you think and feel the way you do.

5. Surround Yourself with Positive People

This one is pretty simple. Cutting out toxic people from your life and instead surrounding yourself with other happy and positive people has a compounding effect.[4] When people around you complain less, you tend to complain less, too. When people laugh, you laugh. Happiness begets happiness!

Another great reason to surround yourself with positive people is that you can learn a lot from them. Seeing how other positive people react to hardships and negativity can give you something to emulate and aspire to.

Also, it’s just generally nice to be around friends that will gas you up and help keep you positive! No one likes a Negative Nancy or a Downer Derek.

6. Tell Invasive Thoughts to Shove Off

Everyone is their own harshest critic, but they certainly don’t have to be. Negative thoughts can be pervasive, and it can be difficult to regulate them or shake them off as simply a passing thought.

However, if you learn to recognize when you’re having negative thoughts and are able to see that they aren’t helping you achieve anything, it can make dealing with them much easier. Telling yourself that you aren’t good enough doesn’t help the situation, either, so why let that thought in at all?

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When you’re able to better regulate invasive negative thoughts, you can narrow your focus onto positive, helpful thoughts that actually work to propel you forward instead of holding you back. This is one of the harder things to master, but doing so will possibly make the greatest impact on your outlook.

7. Balance Your Diet

The key to increasing positivity through your diet is to try and break away from fad diets that promise fast results and instead focus on eating a balanced diet that will keep you healthy. While many fad diets do in fact help with rapid weight loss, they only do so by putting your body through some dangerous things. [5]

Dehydration, the development of poor eating habits, yo-yoing weight loss, and malnutrition can all come as side effects of fad or crash diets. Developing healthy eating and nutrition habits can also help you to lose a ton of weight and feel great doing it.

A properly balanced diet focuses on the best, most important foods first that will help you maintain your physical and mental health.

8. Let Nature Be Your Guide

One of the best on how to be more positive is to head out into the great outdoors. The constant stress and noise of living in urban spaces can take a serious toll on your mental health, and heading out for a weekend camping trip or even a short hike in the woods can help you reconnect with nature.

Spending time outdoors can refresh your perspective and give you a much-needed break which, in turn, helps you remain positive in the face of adversity.

If you live somewhere where getting out into nature is not really a possibility, you can still reap the benefits of the outdoors by immersing yourself in a green space, like visiting a park in your city for a couple of hours. Pro-tip: walking barefoot on grass is amazing. When was the last time you did it?

9. Take Up a New Hobby

Starting up a new hobby can seem like a daunting task. There is so much to learn when first starting out with a hobby — however, that is, in fact, what makes it so great for improving positive thinking!

Learning should be a lifelong experience and outside of college and university, hobbies are one of the best ways to continue learning and experiencing personal growth. Not all hobbies have to be expensive , either, which makes it ideal for self-improvement.

Stargazing, bird watching, calligraphy, gardening, exploring your city, and discovering new art and music are all inexpensive (or free) ways to keep things fresh in your life and expand your mind.

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10. Practice Dealing with Rejection

Rejection can be harsh. Getting shut down, whether in social situations, romantic situations, or while looking for a job can put a damper on your mood for weeks after the initial rejection.

The key to how to be more positive and being able to deal with rejection appropriately is to actively think about and practice how you’ll react. It costs nothing and works wonders to dampen the blow.

If you receive a rejection letter for a job, send back a letter thanking them for their time and consideration. If rejected romantically or socially, remaining positive and seeing the upside will make you look like the bigger person and even do wonders for your self-esteem.

11. Cultivate Optimism

When it comes to how to be more positive, building upon your optimism is key to your success. Optimists have a positive explanatory style, which essentially just means that they believe that the good things that happen in life are due to their hard work and perseverance.

Pessimists, on the other hand, have a negative explanatory style, meaning that they believe everything that happens to them is because of forces out of their control. Between the two, it really comes down to taking personal responsibility.

Positive thinkers are capable of attributing not only their successes but their failures to their own doing and are able to learn and grow from their experiences.

12. Focus on What You’re Grateful for

Another fantastic way on how to be more positive is to take stock of what you’ve got in life and acknowledge to yourself that you’re grateful for whatever it is that makes you happy.

Just hear me out. Expressing thankfulness and gratitude can actually improve your mood and how much joy you experience. [6] Even simply writing down a list of the things you’re grateful for throughout a day can make a huge difference.

Soon you’ll find yourself giving your car a good pat on the dash for getting you to and from work, thanking just about anyone who helps you in any way, and generally spreading positivity everywhere you go.

13. Start an Achievable Bucket List

You can’t become a positive person if you’re stuck in a rut and feel like you have nothing to aspire to or to achieve. The easiest way to how to be more positive and get yourself moving towards your life goals is to write them down into a bucket list.

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Your bucket list can be comprised of experiences and achievements as well as more esoteric things you’d like to accomplish .

The key to a great bucket list is to write down achievable goals. Sure, you can write down that you’d like to earn a bazillion dollars, but that is going to sit, untouched, on your bucket list for quite some time. Focus on the here and now and you’ll find that your accomplishments translate directly into positivity in your life.

14. Find a New Favorite Book

There’s nothing quite like reading a good book cuddled up on a couch. While it can be hard to find time to read if you have a busy schedule, purposefully setting aside and taking the time every day to read can have some serious positive benefits.

Reading isn’t just a way to entertain yourself, either. It can improve empathy, brain function, vocabulary, and overall mood! Joining a book club can also expand your social circle. They say that the print industry is dying, but I say go to your local bookstore, browse around until you find an entertaining looking book, and get to reading!

15. Explore Yourself

Finally, last tip on how to be more positive is to learn as much about who you really are as you can.

Sounds easy, right?

All you need to do is practice any or all of these habits to improve your positivity. In doing this, you’ll likely find out what really makes you happy in life, what is important to you, and what kind of person you want to be.

No one is holding you back from becoming a more positive person, so get out there and make it happen!

Featured photo credit: Hudson Hintze via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress 15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness

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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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