We’ve all been told to “stay positive” during tough times, but what does that really mean?
Half-glass-full wisdom isn’t always easy to stick by, especially when positivity seems like little more than wishful thinking.
The real reason positivity is so challenging comes down to our evolutionary roots. Our species survived because our brains were hard-wired for detecting threats. But these worry-filled thoughts are a lot less helpful now–and they can present dangers of their own.
Giving in to this impulse in your day to day life can drag down your mood, your performance, and even your health. Staying positive is a daily challenge–one that requires strong focus and attention.
If you want to learn how to stay positive and constructive–even during tough times–it’s vital that you stick to these habits. Here are some of the most effective strategies for positivity that you can try.
How to Stay Positive: 5 Habits to Get You in a Better Mindset
Keeping a positive outlook can do more than just make you happier in your daily life. People who are pessimistic have a 20% higher risk of dying over a 30 year period than those who are optimistic.
And it’s not just about health. Positivity improves can improve work performance too. Salespeople who were more optimistic sold 37% more than those who were pessimists, and they were much less likely to remain with the company after a year of employment.
So how do you stay positive–even when it feels like there’s nothing to be positive about?
The first step is cultivating daily habits that can improve your mindset. Let’s get into a few ways you can get started.
1. Avoid Negative Thinking
Before you can even start focusing on the positive, you have to learn how to break away from the cycle of negative thoughts.
The more you think about negative things, the more power you give them.
The next time you feel a negative thought creeping up on you, stop what you’re doing and write down exactly what you’re thinking. Once you’ve slowed down and you can see the thought laid out on paper, you’ll be more clear-headed in evaluating them.
After you’ve identified the negative thought, here are some ways to deal with it:
- Ask yourself if the negative thought is really true
- Consider an alternative explanation
- Avoid all-or-nothing thinking
- Imagine how you’d talk to a friend if they were feeling the same way
- Think about the achievements that disprove your negative thought
2. Take Up Journaling
Writing down your thoughts is more than just a tool to dispel negative thoughts–it can help you focus on the positive too.
Starting a positivity journal is a great way for you to make a deliberate effort to express positivity every day. Whether you write about things that make you happy, what you’re grateful for, good things that have happened to you, or other bits of positivity in your life–you’ll notice that over time, you start noticing and appreciating the positive moments more.
It’s all about training your brain to focus on positivity instead of worry, anxiety, or insecurity.
3. Create a Positive Environment
Positivity doesn’t just come from your brain chemistry. The people you spend your time with and the things you spend your life doing will have a big effect on your outlook.
In order to keep focusing on the positive, you need to have influences that lift you towards greater positivity rather than dragging you down to more negativity.
Think very carefully about your life influences. Ask yourself: Who are the most negative people I spend my time with? What are the most negative sources of information that I spend time on?
Whether it’s overly pessimistic friends or a social media account that’s bringing you down, cutting out the negativity in your environment will only make it easier to reach your positivity goals.
You don’t have to cut things out entirely. Just be intentional about how you spend your time and consider spending less time with these people or on these things.
4. Don’t Lose Perspective
When you’re trapped in a cycle of negativity, it’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. It’s important to avoid losing perspective when you’re stressed out or life just seems to be going way too fast.
Here are some strategies you can practice to handle it:
- As soon as your thoughts start to spiral out of control, force yourself to stop
- Take deep breaths, focusing on the in-breaths and out-breaths for 1-3 minutes
- Refocus and stay grounded—try asking yourself: “Will this matter in a year? Or even a week?”
5. Add Value to Others’ Lives
Maintaining a positive attitude starts with your actions.
It’s not enough to just think positive–you have to do positive things too. You get back what you put in, and what you send out to the world matters a lot.
Think closely about how you treat those in your life. How you think and feel about others can have a big impact on how you feel about yourself.
Here are some simple ways you can spread positivity:
- Write a gratitude letter to a family member or friend
- Lend somebody a hand–whether it’s physical or emotional
- Spend less time talking and more time listening
- Smile more, give hugs, and be physically open around others
Bringing It All Together
These tips and habits might sound simple, but learning how to stay positive can be a powerful motivator for a happier, healthier life.
By training your brain to have a more positive focus and breaking the cycle of negativity, you can fight your brain’s natural tendency to wander towards pessimism. If you take the time to put these habits into action, you can benefit from the physical, mental, and emotional boost that comes with a positive frame of mind.
Looking for more tips on living your best life? Check out the health section on our blog!