Trying to work more positivity into your life is no easy feat. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of methods you can try to better your outlook and improve your mental health. From incorporating some kind of physical activity in your routine to breaking away from social media, these are some of the best ways you can include more positivity in your world.
#1 Learn to Let it Go
The trick is to make your point and if someone disagrees, maybe make your point one more time. But after that just stop trying to clarify or repeat yourself without actually conceding the other person is right. It's very calming and has made my life a lot more pleasant plus it somehow makes you seem less combative and people like you more.
#2 Keep Your Cool
Before you begin to disagree with someone, take a deep breath. Ask yourself if you really care about arguing. You’ll forget to do that sometimes, which happens. But don’t think that you failed if you rush into an argument, just try to keep your cool as many times as possible. After some practice, it’ll get easier.
#3 Just a Quick Question
My mother can be quite hurtful, and my dad can be, to an extent. I've learned that the best way to get them to stop saying hurtful, idiotic things is to point out the flaw in their logic. My dad is really homophobic and once started in on the way someone he knows was behaving. He kept citing stereotypes, and I interrupted to ask, "Hey, how come your brother's never been married?" Three hours of silence. It was glorious.
#4 Airing it Out
I like to hear gossip and sometimes I'll even ask about it if it seems very strong in whatever social circle I'm talking to. But I like to deflect the negativity, like, "Oh, he said that about her? I wonder what's been eating him?" There’s always a way to hear the gossip but not feed into it. I think that actually helps people in the long run. Give everything air, but don't use it as an excuse to collectively ridicule someone.
#5 Always Something Beautiful
Try to find something beautiful every day. That's how I cope with my depression. Even on terrible days, I can find something: the way the moonlight makes my dog's fur look silver, the sound of the rain, the exquisite softness of a blanket, or something like that. There's always something beautiful to experience.
#6 Looking for the Good
My adorable niece likes to ask, "What was your favorite thing about today?" before going to bed. It's so simple and sweet, but it honestly makes me think through every good and positive thing from the day so I can pick a favorite. I need to try and remember to do this more often on my own without her prompting me.
#7 Staying GLAD
A counselor I saw for depression and anxiety taught me a quick technique for bringing a little more positivity in my life. She told me to take a moment to think about things that made me GLAD (Grateful, Learned, Accomplished, Delighted). When I was deep in the thick of all my negative thinking, I kept a journal and wrote a couple of sentences for each element of GLAD every day. Now, I just do it when I’m really upset about something.
#8 Sage Words
Here are a few things I can think of. First, notice positive things in others and tell them about it. You should also spend your free time with good people, not toxic ones. Additionally, try to practice doing good deeds, like helping your neighbor carry in their groceries or doing a couple of hours of volunteer work for a charity you believe in.
You should also take time to appreciate the small things such as the flower blooming in your flower pot, the co-worker who's running to get coffee and asks if they can grab you one. Lastly, try to incorporate some physical activity into your routine. It’ll make you feel better, especially if you stick with it.
#9 Changing Your Perspective
Changing your perspective is a great start. For example, overly apologetic people have a habit of nagging their faults. Instead, try and shift your thinking. Instead of saying, “Sorry for waiting on me,” say something like, “Thank you for waiting up for me.” Additionally, rather than saying, “Sorry for talking your ear off,” say something like, “The conversation was enjoyable. Thanks for hearing me out.”
I also believe that finding hobbies to burn your excess energy is positive and keeping yourself from being too idle results in a healthier outlook on yourself and life. Gym life goes without saying as well. But I find that people who generally workout are happier in the greater scheme of things. Also gym culture — from personal experiences — has always been a happy, supportive one.
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#10 Being Active Sans the Gym
I hate working out and going to a gym. So, I got super into skateboarding and surfing, and honestly, almost nothing makes me happier. These cultures have a very positive outlook and it really helps me be positive to be a part of them. They’re also almost more of an art than a sport, so you learn to appreciate the beauty of the little things. It’s not for everyone, but I just wanted to express that you can be active without hitting the gym.
#11 Cohesive Way to Think
In Portuguese, we say The Golden Rule the other way around and I feel like it's much more solid. “Don't treat others the way you don't want to be treated.” If you think about it, treating others the way you want to be treated assumes that the way you like to be treated is the best possible way to treat others or that it could be beneficial to others. On the other side, however, you put in to practice removing harm and negative actions, so it's much more cohesive of a way to think.
#12 Feeling Life
For me, the best way is to feel life. Internally feeling the texture of my own skin, feeling the air go in my lungs, feeling my muscles engage as I use them, etc. Externally, hear the birds sing and watch them fly, watch the people around me run, work, talk, eat, fight, love, feel the ground under my feet and its vibrations.
In essence, I strive to remove the meaning that my mind places on the world and I let the world create its own meaning. I center myself, observe, and then strive to love every little bit of it; the good and the bad. I end up experiencing something existential. It's as if I'm bearing witness to a moment in time and space that has never been, but is, and will likely never be again with these same variables. In those moments, I am simply happy to exist. It brightens up the rest of my life too.
#13 Ditching Social Media
For those who haven't done it, ditching my Facebook page was a major positive move for me. I haven't deleted my account in case I need to find or contact someone, but I look at it maybe once a month. There are times where I'll go months without looking at it. But, it was honestly a hugely positive move for my life.
#14 Breaking the Mold
My life motto has always been "life sucks and then you pass away." I grew up where there was seemingly always something new every day that went horribly wrong in my life like friends passing away to family issues to my own mental health. I'm now a college graduate with a great job and I'm engaged to my girlfriend of over six years who has stuck by me through everything. Life may not be perfect, and I may still have issues and fall back into my motto. But somehow, life can and did get better for me.
#15 That’s Okay
I use the phrase “that’s okay” so much and it’s been life-changing. Something bad happens to me, that’s okay. I will deal with it practically. Something goes awry? That’s okay. I’ve dealt with worse and come through unscathed. Catching myself saying negative things about myself or my abilities? That’s okay. Next time, I’ll treat myself with love. Just an air of quiet, persistent optimism and accepting that even if I’m not positive right now, I can be next time.
#16 Understanding Your Actions
Stoicism. Read A Guide to the Good Life . Realize how much you have to be grateful for and how easily it can all be taken from you. Understand what aspects of your life are your lizard brain seeking pleasure or avoiding pain and control those tendencies. Fill your life with the things that give you true joy rather than simple stimulation, pleasure, and comfort. Realize when you’re letting your emotions control your reactions and get in front of them. Be in control of your emotions and don’t let things disturb your tranquillity.
#17 More Pleasant Days
To be entirely honest, I can’t stand the people at work who gossip and complain about others. They make me feel negativity for something or someone that I wouldn’t otherwise have never felt on my own. I try to separate myself from it all as much as possible and I find my days much more pleasant in the long run.
#18 Say It Out Loud
I absolutely love spreading positivity. One of the best things I like to do is when I notice something nice about someone, I try to say it out loud. It's hard sometimes, being shy, but it might make their day and that's at least one positive thing I do all day. Plus, it makes me be less awkward one step at a time.
#19 They Don’t Care
Realize that other people, especially strangers you encounter throughout the day, simply don't care that much about you. Unless you're being super obnoxious or violent somehow, other people most likely aren't paying attention to what you wear, how you act, or what you look like. So, try not to worry about it so much.
#20 Invest Your Time
Invest your time in the relationships you have with your friends and family. This modern world is so consumption-based and so much discourse is stupid and shallow, it can make you crave meaning in your life. What's happening in the news is important, sure, but it won't make you emotionally full. Trying to find solidarity and fellowship online is largely a diet of empty calories. The part of life you can control and affect is your relationships with those you are closest to.
#21 Give Yourself a Present
Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks said something really insightful once. “Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.”
#22 Earning a Future
For me, it was antidepressants. I wasn’t able to stop the cyclical negative thinking. They’re not for everyone and I tried for years to avoid taking them, but I’m way less negative now. Like, before the medication, the tiniest issues pushed me over the edge. Now I can make eye contact with people and I feel like I have a future. I tried avoiding and suppressing, but I couldn’t stop believing I was useless, worthless, and a bad person. I still get the occasional episode, but I wish I took these years ago because they would have saved me buckets of pain.
#23 Noticing the Good
I’d have to say that your life will improve significantly if you write down five nice things that happened every single day. It could be anything from someone who gave you a compliment to you chatting with a stranger or all of the lights being green on the way home. You eventually start noticing nice things all the time.
#24 The Beauty in Life
Try to find the beauty in life. It’s everywhere! My ex-boyfriend used to say that I was “easily amused” when I would point out things I found to be beautiful or interesting. My current partner can’t quite see it the way I do, but he appreciates the fact that I find something to be amazed by that he wouldn’t notice. Never, ever stop finding the beauty in life, my friends.
#25 Grateful for the Little Things
Be grateful. I sometimes get upset about how I have so much to do after work: run errands, make dinner, do dishes, do laundry, etc. Instead of getting bogged down by lists of chores, I stop and think it’s great I have a car that can take me easily around town to do my errands. Or I focus on how blessed I am to have the money to buy food that I can prepare for my loving family, and a perfectly functioning washer and dryer at home. So much of happiness is a choice to view things in a different light.
#26 Cut the Fat
Cut useless things out of your life. Basically, look at your daily routine or what you do on the weekends and decide what is good for you and what isn't. The concept behind that is breaking an addiction and routine spice up your life, get your brain going and you start to see what you can do with a little dedication.
#27 Coming Naturally
Exercise, especially if it's in a social manner such as group hiking or a dancing class. The dopamine release will completely change your daily happiness, and in doing so, your outlook improves. Once that happens, you won't have to purposefully do any of the other recommendations. They'll just come naturally.
#28 Focus on the Positive
Have something positive going on: choose a hobby you enjoy or follow a plan to reach life goals. Surround yourself with positive people and disengage yourself from people who stir up drama. It's amazing how much frustration one or two troublemakers can generate. If you aren't careful, that can seep out into your own attitude toward your other relationships.
Show the people who are good to you how much you appreciate them and keep the others at arm's length. At the same time, you should also take reasonably good care of your body. Eat well, keep fit, and try to get enough sleep. One last note: do not try to use a relationship to fix gaps in yourself. Romance can be wonderful but it’s certainly not a substitute for working on you.
#29 Bettering Someone’s Day
Do good for your fellow humans for the right reasons. Don’t hold those good actions up as proof that you're a good person, just do good. I try, every day, to do things that will make my life better tomorrow and to help make someone else's day better. Even if that means something as small as saying, “Hi, how are you today?” to some random stranger. Sometimes that's all it takes to let someone else know that they are seen and valued.
#30 Starts With You
I've found Twitter is almost worse for me in terms of social media. I see people my age posting so much misinformation and claiming that everyone is always wrong about everything meaning millennials are going to change and fix the world. I don't mind the positive attitude, but if you want to change the world, at least do some research into your ideas and beliefs first. Oh! And don't expect that the government is the only one who can do anything about the world's problems. It starts with you.
#31 Curb the Complaining
Stop complaining, it makes like so much easier. One thing you'll notice when you become a more positive person is how much other people complain. People will complain about anything . But engaging in that will only drag you down and stop you from seeing the important things in life. Appreciating all the little things that make you happy every day is important. If you're stuck in a loop of complaining about everything, you'll develop a negative mindset that just becomes exhausting for everyone.
#32 Fake Happiness Today
I have said it before and I will say it again. If you’re not positive, tell yourself you are, even if you don't believe it. All you have to do is wake up, say you’re happy, genuinely believe that you are, and today will be a good day. Whenever you feel bad, or remember why you hate life, tell yourself you’re happy and you can make other people happy. It may not work day one, but eventually, you’ll feel yourself becoming happier. Soon enough, you’ll forget why you were unhappy, or even depressed, in the first place. Fake happiness today, for a happier tomorrow.
#33 Let it Go
Don't get angry at the little things in life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally fine to be annoyed for a couple of minutes, but don't let little things ruin your day (or even your entire life). I used to be a hothead and over time, I learned to not be so angry. I can’t remember the last time I was truly angry.
#34 Thinking About the World
Think about the world around you. Humanity has been very quick to label things in an effort to understand, but ironically it’s now more of a problem than a solution. People grow up learning certain thinking until you expect the world beyond all of this information to be some non-existent black void. It's the opposite.
Once you see things for what they simply are and begin to notice the interconnectivity of the world around you, you'll start appreciating it until you feel the happiest you've ever felt. Everything starts making more “sense.” Don't be afraid of change. Chase what feels right. Strive to be good and be an example for others. Don't assume that “there are enough good people” or assume you yourself are good. You only gain that knowledge through deep reflection, and you’ll learn you can always do better.
#35 Define Positivity
Being “positive” is an elusive and relative state. First, you have to define what you mean by that, and then ask yourself if you really want to “be” that? For example, if the ideal “being positive” to you means to be optimistic about everything, you’re probably in for disappointments. Define these things to know what you really want.
#36 Recognizing Repetitive Behavior
Learn how to interrupt any habitual hypothesizing, mind-reading or ruminating and begin to respond differently to those behaviours. By learn, I mean begin to pay attention to the times of the day when you have recurring negative thoughts. In these times, begin to label this type of thinking — this can help you understand your brain's habits a little bit more clearly.
For example, from my daily life, if you were like me and you found yourself having negative thoughts about your body or your general appearance, you could try to begin to track those times as "judging" or "obsessing.” You could also think of it as something gentler such as "spinning" or "cycling", in reference to the repetitive nature of negative thought processes.
The more you can challenge or "combat" the negative reoccurring thoughts, the more you can question, deflate, and discredit them. You can also begin to offer yourself more positive outcomes. Begin to reinforce ideas like accepting past mistakes, accepting future risks, and begin to reject out-of-control repetitive sensations.
#37 Professor-Approved Methods
It sounds super cheesy, but in one of my psychology classes, the professor told us to write 10 things we were grateful for each morning when we woke up. I kept doing it for a while, and I swear it made me a much happier and more thankful person. I haven't been in the most awesome place mentally lately and this just reminded me I should start doing it again.
#38 Getting Out of Your Head
Empathy. I frequently get inside my head, and that can get kind of negative. What gets me out is getting my thoughts in order just enough that I can spend cognitive energy on seeing life from other people's point of view. It's refreshing to leave your own stuff alone for a bit, and they really appreciate it most of the time.
#39 Tuning In
I’d have to say that one of the best things that helped my positivity was listening to music. What you listen to absolutely affects who you are. I’d recommend trying upbeat stuff like ska or punk, or if those aren't your jam, just look for stuff that's positive and has high bpms. Anything over 120 bpms increases your heart rate!
#40 Stand Up Tall
Something really simple such as changing your posture can help. Stand up straight, shoulders back, head high. Walk like you mean it. It’s a hard thing to get used to doing if you're not already practicing at it, but the subconscious confidence boost you get from doing it really changes you in the long term for the better.
#41 Control Your Thoughts
First thing’s first: your thoughts are your own. They only belong to you and you have absolute control over them. Don't like what you're thinking about? Stop! Find something you like to think about. It’ll take self-discipline to prevent your mind from going where you don’t want it to. Most negative thoughts are not our own, just what we think we own. Happiness is a choice. I choose to be happy (it upsets some people, though).
#42 Don’t Assume the Worst
Always assume the best of people. That dude who cut you off in traffic? His wife is probably in labor and he's rushing to get there. That cashier who was rude to you? Maybe she's going through a divorce. I can't remember the word in psychology, but whenever we do something wrong we say that it's due to an event that happened to us. But when someone else does something wrong, we automatically assume that they’re just a bad person
#43 Roll With the Punches
Acceptance. Learn to accept that something happened and know there's not one thing you can do because it already happened. Then, it gets easier to be positive moving forward because you’ve accepted it already. It doesn't mean you like it or don't work to change it, but you accept that it happened, whatever that may be.
#44 How Thoughts Translate
I’m someone who battled with depression for a really long time without even particularly realizing it for the first 10 years. I would say what helped me was finding an understanding of how my depressive thoughts translated to real-life results and how my positive thoughts also translated to real-life results as well.
#45 The Road to Good Advice
Stop lying. Just stop lying. Seriously. People lie about the smallest things. I used to do it as well and it becomes so easy that sometimes it's an instinct. Telling the truth is so much easier and it'll get you so much further in life. Sometimes telling the truth gets you the advice and guidance you really needed, not the fake acceptance your alter ego wanted.
#46 Please and Thank You
Say “thank you” a lot. Use it in place of anger. I have days where I’m so angry that my partner worked late or had to go out of town. When I feel that, I say, “Thank you for working so hard,” or “Thank you for letting me know in advance.” You can also use it instead of sorry. “Thank you so much for your patience” instead of being sorry you’re late. “Thank you for reminding me” instead of being sorry you forgot. Finding ways to work gratitude into your life makes you more positive in general.
#47 Nip Those Negative Thoughts
Nip ruminating thoughts in the bud. If something is bothering you, purposely divert your attention to something else. Take your mind off of it. Force yourself to not think about that subject. I know it sounds hard, but it helps so much and it’s incredibly effective. It really helped me stop beating myself up and just keep moving forward.
#48 Personal Goals
I've made a number of slips of paper with "personal development goals" written on them. I also have two mugs on my desk — one orange and one blue. The slips of paper all start in the orange mug. Every morning, I draw one and do my best to fulfil whatever goal I've laid out for the day. Some of them are: "Give meaningful advice," "Tell someone how much I care about them," "Call at least two grandparents," etc. If I fulfil the goal, it gets moved to the blue mug. If not, it goes back to the orange mug and I draw randomly again the next morning.
#49 Don’t Compare Yourself
Try to think about relativity. It’s hard to be happy if you compare what you have or feel to others in your life. Don’t worry about the bad things, the sadder you are about the bad thing the more significance you give it and the worse it makes you feel. Give fun things your attention and they will make you happy.
#50 Stop Insulting Yourself
Stop saying pointless insults about yourself (commenting on thinking you’re fat, unattractive, stupid, etc.) Quit thinking bad things about yourself! Shut that down whenever you find yourself talking about it, especially because these thoughts are easy when you’re depressed or have low self-confidence. Dwelling on things you don’t like about yourself is just convincing yourself you can’t change.