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Last Updated on February 9, 2020

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.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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