7 Ways to a Positive Perspective

We’ve all heard the adage, “Be positive!”

What is all this hype about positivity? Some people who haven’t jumped on the positivity bandwagon might argue that their cynical outlook on life is a more realistic way of seeing the world, while those who try to force themselves to be happy are just lying to themselves.

So which is right? Which perspective and outlook on life has the greatest benefit? Is it all a matter of preference?

The realist perspective is one that humans developed long ago. This view on life is the brain trying to self-preserve, avoid potential threats, and stay safe. In the past, these threats were life-threatening, but our world has dramatically evolved since the pre-historic era. This approach doesn’t yield as many benefits as it once did our prehistoric ancestors.

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What’s so great about being positive?

A positive perspective is not an easy one. It can be especially hard when difficult situations and annoying occurrences arise.

While positive thinking is nothing more than the way you decide to view each situation, it can make your life a whole lot easier. Being positive won’t change your situation, but it will help you get through the tough times.

Why is this? Have you ever had a day where you woke up on the wrong side of the bed and then got up to eat breakfast and knocked over, broke, or spilled something?

Or have you ever been angry and felt like the whole world was conspiring against you? This happens because the things you focus on become magnified.

When we have a negative focus, we tend to find all the things that are wrong with our life or the day. On the flip side, when we train our brains to find the positive things in life, we find them.

What can I do to be more positive?

The critics of positivity have it right when they say that it is difficult to will yourself positive. Positivity is like a muscle and when you work it out, aka practice positivity, it grows stronger.

If you’re looking to work on living a more positive life, here are some things you can try:

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Be grateful

Brene Brown, a researcher on shame, vulnerability, and connection, found that the happiest people (or who she calls “wholehearted”) all have one thing in common; they all have a gratitude practice.

When you begin to train your brain to see the positive things in life, it is hard not to be happier.

Think about it this way- there are only so many things you can think about at once, so if you are focusing on what you’re grateful for, you won’t be thinking about the negative.

A gratitude practice could be many different things. Listed below are just a few.

  • Journaling daily about what you are grateful for
  • Having a grateful practice with someone else where you both share what you’re grateful for each day
  • Incorporate gratitude into your daily meditation or prayers
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Listen to positive music

Finding upbeat or calming music can be a great way to change your mood. Look for music with lyrics that will empower you and help you notice the good things in the world. Try to avoid music that will bring you down.

Look for the Lesson

No matter how positive you may be, there will be instances where times get hard. In these instances, it can be helpful to look for the lesson to be learned or to see what you may not have understood before.

While you may not be happy-go-lucky all the time, positivity can make the hard times a little more bearable and help you manage the rough waters.

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Be nice to yourself

For most people, they are their worst critic. Positivity begins from within. If you find that you often have negative self-talk or negative beliefs about yourself, you may want to work on these thoughts/beliefs.

Some things that may help negative beliefs or self-talk include the following.

  • Become conscious of your negative self-talk. This will give you insight as to the circumstances that trigger these thoughts. It will also help give you some insight into what beliefs you may hold about yourself.
  • See a counselor or therapist to learn skills to process your beliefs. Therapists are a great resource for gaining insight as to when and why negative beliefs formed and how to overcome them.
  • Change the way you talk to yourself. If you often say “I am….” statements, try to change this instead to a statement about the action itself and not you as a person.

E.g. “I am a mistake,” versus, “I made a mistake.”

  • Replace negative statements with more encouraging statements

E.g. “I’m so fat!” versus, “I may not be where I would like to be, but I’m

working towards it. “

Smile

A smile is a win-win for everyone. A simple smile from you can transform someone else’s day, but it also has positive effects for you.

Did you know there’s research showing that smiling (a real smile that includes “smiling with your eyes”) can actually make you happier?

When one smiles, the body releases a happy hormone into the bloodstream. So beware, if you smile, you’re bound to be happier than you were before. Try it!

Act

Take control of your life! There are things that aren’t in our control, such as the weather, other people’s actions, etcetera; however, there are many things that are in our control.

If you find yourself becoming annoyed, bothered, angry, sad, or any other reactionary emotion, take a moment to reflect on what part of the situation is in your control. Once you figure that out, take action and change what you can, and accept what you can’t.

Photo by Alex Alvarez

Assume the best

This one might be the hardest to implement, but it is especially helpful in those situations we can’t control that involve other people. When you are reacting negatively to the actions of other people, tell yourself this phrase, “They are doing the best they can” (Brene Brown, Rising Strong).

When we assume that others have good intentions and that they are doing the best they can with the tools they have, we then respond with more compassion, patience, understanding, empathy and are emotionally in a better place to know how to correctly handle the situation(Brene Brown, Rising Strong).

Happiness Just Happens… Or Does It? 8 Steps for a Happier You

What is happiness? True happiness goes beyond the fleeting, moment-to-moment emotion of being happy. The Merriam- Webster Dictionary states it as,

“: a state of well-being and contentment JOY

Happiness, or joy, is a state of being. For those who live in this state of being, it means that although they experience the ups and downs of life, they are happy more than they are not.

Here are 8 ways to help move your state of being to a state of happiness.

1- Smile. Smiling is contagious and for a good reason! When you smile your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin– all the feel-good chemicals. By smiling you not only boost your mood but also lower your heart rate and blood pressure and relax your body. Periodically check in with yourself throughout the day and remind yourself to SMILE 🙂

“Of all the medicines in the inner life, a smile is by far the best medecine. “

– Sri Chinmoy

2- Shift your mindset. Most of us live in a state of scarcity, which means that we see most things as lacking. We see problems instead of blessings, what we lack instead of what we have, etc. We can move from a scarcity mindset by changing our focus to an abundance mindset.

An abundance mindset is believing that there are enough resources to meet your needs or achieve your goals and that there is enough success to share with others. It’s seeing the world through the eyes of possibility instead of limitations. This change in belief and mindset changes your view of the world. It can help see things in a positive light and create more happiness from within.

““If you always attach positive emotions to the things you want, and never attach negative emotions to the things you don’t, then that which you desire most will invariably come your way.” 

– Matt D. Miller

3- Clear your mind. Having a clear mind helps improve happiness, helps stay in the moment, helps shift your mindset, and helps improve your mental health.

Happiness flees when doubt, fear, worry, or anxiety fill our minds. Learning to clear your mind is a helpful way to relieve stress and anxiety, which in turn makes way for happiness.

“The mind is like water. When it’s turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everything becomes clear. “

– Prasad Mahes

4- Stop comparing. Comparison is part of the scarcity mindset. It occurs because one feels they need to be as good as, or better than, those around them. It is a mindset where they desperately need to measure up and are failures if they do not.

Your worth does not come from being “better” than those around you. Your worth is innate. Embrace your individuality and unique talents and gifts. Loving yourself and knowing your own worth with help eliminate the need to compare yourself to others. Happiness will ensue as you stop questioning if you measure up.

“Comparison is the theif of joy.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

5- Sleep more. Depending on the severity, those who lack sleep can experience a weaker immune system, be at a higher risk of mental illness, and experience cognitive impairment.

Most people are more irritable if they do not get enough sleep; especially if they are chronically sleep-deprived. Getting enough sleep and being well-rested can make it easier to control your emotions, be positive, and be happy.

” Sleep is the golden chain that links health and our bodies together. “

– Thomas Dekker

6- Stop “pursuing” happiness. Be happy. Have you ever told yourself, “I will be happy when…”?

Do you postpone happiness until x, y, or z goal has been met? Sometimes you might think that attaining those goals will make you happy. What actually happens is that when the goal is reached, you end up feeling just as empty and unsatisfied inside as you were before. You do not need to accomplish something to deserve happiness.

As we explained before, happiness is not circumstantial nor dependent on our moment-to-moment emotions. Happiness is a choice and a state of being. We can choose to be happy and live in an abundant mindset while still moving towards our goals. Happiness requires being able to live in the moment and to choose happiness.

““Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are in.”

― Germany Kent

7- Give. When we bless the lives of those around us there is an undeniable joy that comes into our lives. Service to our fellow men blesses both the giver and the receiver. There is nothing that combats hard times more than lovingly serving another person and to see their smile of joy or tears of gratitude. This is one of the purest forms of joy that we can experience in our lives.

“I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”

– Lady Gaga

8- Focus on what is important. There are so many distractions in life that can take up all of your time if you let them and leave you with a hollow life.

It is hard to know which activities to choose and which to focus on. Here is an activity to help you identify the things that will bring you the most happiness in life.

Start by making a list of everything you would like to accomplish in your lifetime: finances, relationships, work, health, adventures, experiences, self-improvements, and anything else you can think of. Then, go through your list and whittle it down until you have your top three most meaningful accomplishments.

These goals are the things that you can base your life around. When you have to make a decision about how to spend your time, ask yourself, “Does this bring me closer to any of my three goals?” If it doesn’t, chances are it’s not worth your time. If it does, then make room for it.

Filling your life and time with experiences that lead you to the life you would like to live is the best way to experience happiness. Focus on your passions. Focus on those you love. Do things that make you happy. This is the key to happiness.

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”

– Zig Ziglar

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How to Stay Positive Even When it Seems Impossible

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wish on a shooting star and magically you’d stay positive? Or you could ask a fairy godmother to make you more positive? Or you could rub a genie lamp and somehow find the positive in even the worst situations? Well, unfortunately very few of us live in a Disney movie. But fortunately, there are some things we can do to find positivity — even when it’s difficult.

What’s so great about being positive?

If you’re asking that question, maybe it’s time you tried being positive. Dwelling in the negative is not only not fun, but it doesn’t do anything to solve the situation.

Being positive isn’t always the easiest thing to do because we come upon difficult situations and annoying occurrences almost daily. But finding the positive can at least make things a little less difficult for you, even though it’s just all in your head. Being positive won’t change your situation, but it will help you get through the tough times.

What can I do to be more positive?

If you’re looking to work on living a more positive life, here are some things you can try:

Be grateful

When you start thinking about all the things you are grateful for, you can start to see the positive things that you have in your life. Think about it this way: there’s only so many things you can think about at once, so if you are focusing on what you’re grateful for, you won’t be thinking about the negative. You can write down what you’re grateful for in a grateful journal, or you can tell a friend or family member what you’re grateful for.

Listen to positive music

Finding upbeat or calming music can be a great way to change your mood. Look for music with lyrics that will empower you and help you notice the good things in the world. Try to avoid music that will bring you down.

Look for the silver lining

Remember in the movie Enchanted when Patrick Dempsey’s character comes home to find all these rats, cockroaches, and pigeons in his house? Well, he obviously shoos them out, but Princess Giselle saw those sewage creatures as her helpers. So even though Patrick Dempsey’s character was appalled, the silver lining was at least his house was (somewhat) clean now.

Be nice to yourself

Sometimes your biggest critic is you. If you find you’re being negative and it reflects in how you talk to yourself or think about yourself, try to change this. Instead of saying, “You’re stupid,” try to tell yourself more encouraging statements, such as “Good job at trying your best.” Don’t dwell in the negativity by contributing to it.

Smile

Turn that frown upside-down. Did you know there’s actually research showing that smiling (a real smile that includes “smiling with your eyes”) can actually make you happier? Try it!

Act

Take control of your life! There are things that aren’t in our control, such as the weather. But there are some things that are in our control, so if something is bothering you, take a moment to reflect on what part of the situation is in your control. Once you figure that out, take action and change what you can, and accept what you can’t.