Does an optimistic attitude make any real difference in life, or is it mere wishful thinking? Are there any real-life benefits of focusing on the good in all situations? Or is positivity another delusional practice and a sheer waste of time?
This post will provide straightforward answers to these questions and show you why positivity matters. But beyond all of the textbook definitions and answers, I’ll share a few tips on how you can practice positivity in your daily life.
What Is Positivity?
In simple terms, positivity means predominantly focusing on the good and expecting favorable results, regardless of the situation. Positivity is looking at the bright side of life, having a generally worry-free state of mind.
However, positivity does not mean ignoring reality or not taking challenging situations seriously. Instead, it is approaching life from a perspective that everything will be fine, no matter what the current reality may suggest.
Why Positivity Matters
Positivity is not wishful thinking. It offers tangible benefits, such as changing your outlook on life, boosting your work performance, and building resilience.
Consistent positivity can also make you happier and healthier, improve your relationships, and lead to more success.
Many people usually find themselves overly critical and pessimistic and wonder why there is little happiness in their lives. There’s simply no way that negative vibes can result in an overall positive outcome.
If you predominantly harbor negative thoughts or live with a pessimistic mindset, it will show up in your attitude. Thankfully, you can rewire your mindset to a more positive one.
Having a positive frame of mind means:
- You are less likely to take things too personally.
- You are generally good-natured, tolerant, and happy.
- You live in the moment and enjoy the peace of mind that abounds in the present moment.
- You do not waste your time and energy worrying about the future or obsessing about past problems.
- Your mind is geared toward taking action and achieving results rather than being anxious and depressed.
How to Practice Positivity in Everyday Situations
Talk, they say, is cheap. Now that you’ve seen why positivity matters, it is time to learn ways to put it into practice in your daily life.
Here are 7 ways to improve your ability to be more optimistic and think more positively.
1. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
Contemplating the things you are grateful for may seem like a waste of valuable time, but that’s not the case.
According to research conducted at the University of California, Davis, gratitude can reduce your stress hormone by 23%. The research also shows a 41% reduced risk of depression in at-risk patients after practicing gratitude letter writing and counting their blessings for six months.
Being grateful can improve your mood, reduce feelings of hopelessness, improve sleep quality, and slow down the effects of aging.
If you are out of ideas on what to be thankful for, here’s a small list to help you out:
- Good health
- Your supportive family
- Your finances
- Great friends
- Your loving partner
- Your education
- A roof over your head
- Good clothes, good food, and your bed
- Sunshine and fresh air
- Safety and security
- Clean water
- Your mobile phone
- Access to internet
- Waking up every day
- Variety of entertainment
The list is practically endless! Just look around you, and it is easy to find something to be appreciative of.
Here’s a practice that can help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude. I do this a lot, and I’m sure you’ll find it beneficial.
Whenever you experience a pessimistic thought, take that as you prompt or trigger to think of at least one thing you are truly grateful for. Continue this practice, and before long, you will have habituated an attitude of gratitude.
2. Focus on the Present Moment
Here’s a quote by Lao Tzu that always brings me back to the present whenever I become worried or fearful:
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
You can’t control your past or future. However, you can use negative memories from the past to mess up your present, just as you can use fears of the future to mess up your present.
Everything happens NOW! Not in the past or the future. Your power is in the present – that’s where all of your creative power is.
Sometimes all it takes to be optimistic is shifting your attention from things that have passed and things that haven’t yet happened to things currently happening. Stop projecting what is happening now into your future, and you’ll easily see that most of your fears and worries are really not necessary.
This is not a heads-in-the-sand approach. Instead, it is living your life one moment at a time. You’ll discover that you worry less about the things you don’t have any control over and live a happier life.
3. Use Positive Affirmation
Somehow, most people go through their day easily roped into negative energy, even when they don’t actively seek out negativity.
This is partly thanks to technology. We are constantly inundated with news of not-so-pleasant events happening around the globe. And because many people don’t know how to keep their focus and attention on positivity, they are easily sucked into negative thought patterns.
Little wonder many people experience chronic anxiety and depression, and having predominantly negative thoughts show up in their lives as lack of self-confidence, poor self-image, and low self-esteem.
Thankfully, you can tip the scale in your favor with a simple yet powerful tool known as affirmation.
These are concise, positive declarations that you can repeat to yourself throughout the day to hold your focus in a generally positive place.
I shared a few tips on how to use affirmations in this post with many powerful positive statements. Here are a few you can use to keep you focused on positivity.
- I see the positive in every situation, even in bad ones.
- I embrace positive habits that develop and build me up.
- Every day, I see myself getting better.
- I face every situation with self-assurance and confidence.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive People
You may or may not know who Jim Rohn is, but I’m pretty certain you’ve heard his famous quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Whether or not that statement is scientifically proven is beside the point.
The real message here is recognizing how the closest people to you influence your thought patterns and behaviors.
It is difficult to remain consistently positive if most of your close friends and associates are predominantly negative.
Here’s a life-altering exercise you might want to consider. However, I suggest you only do this if you truly want to weed out toxic and unhelpful friends.
- Set aside some moments for deep reflection and think about the closest people in your life.
- As each of these individuals crosses your mind, ask yourself, “Does this person put me down or support me? Do I feel better when I am with this person, or do I feel awful?”
- You want to spend more time with people who support and uplift you. On the other hand, you want to be careful around anyone who drains your positive energy.
Be intentional about those who are closest to you. One of the best tips for putting positivity into practice is to deliberately create a healthy environment that encourages positivity. There is no denying the fact that the more you hear and talk about positive things with those around you, the higher your chances of shifting your overall outlook on life to a more positive one.
5. Practice Being Nice to People
How do you feel when someone does something nice to you? It feels great, right? Here’s something that’s even more fulfilling. Flip the script and do nice things for people!
You’re not just creating a positive experience for someone else but also lifting your spirit.
And no, you don’t have to do something out of the ordinary to feel great. A genuine smile, an encouraging nod, or happily waving are simple gestures but powerful enough to make someone’s day.
If you are looking for a simple way to practice positivity, go ahead and create a positive moment for someone else.
6. Focus on the Good
Focusing your attention on the positive things is relatively easy when things are working out well.
On the other hand, keeping your mind focused on the good can be an uphill task when things are all out of whack. It takes some serious mental efforts to refocus at such times.
Here’s why positivity matters in such moments. It helps you maintain the right frame of mind and remain objective (the next tip will show you an example of being objective in the face of negativity).
No matter how bad your situation is, you can still find something good if you look closely enough. Does this sound like something that’s too difficult for you to do? If yes, then I encourage you to read my post on how to focus on the good and stay positive.
In addition to the tips you’ll find in that post, you can also associate positive thought triggers with your daily routines or items you use almost every day.
Here’s what I mean.
You could associate getting into the shower with being happy about your hygiene. Each time you step into the shower, your mind will automatically go to a happy place. Or you can place a sticker with a powerful message on your favorite coffee mug. Each morning or as often as you reach for the mug, your mind will focus on something good.
7. Filter Fact from Fiction
With an optimistic attitude, you can easily separate the fact from fiction when things are not going as planned or when your mind is plagued with pessimism and negative thoughts.
Try this the next time you are feeling particularly down:
- Stop whatever you are doing when your inner voice tells you something negative.
- Grab a pen and paper or start your note app on your phone and write down what that voice is saying.
- The act of writing down that negative thought slows down the momentum and allows you to objectively evaluate what it is suggesting.
- Carefully consider the statement to see if it is a fact or mere fiction.
Here’s an example.
You forgot your partner’s birthday, and you think, “I’m always bad at remembering important things. I’m never good at relationships.”
Write that thought down on paper (or on your device) and evaluate how true or not the statement is.
Granted, you forgot your partner’s birthday, but do you ALWAYS forget important things? That’s definitely not the case because you remember so many important things. And is it true that you’re NEVER good at relationships? Isn’t that exaggerating a little too much?
When you are clear-headed and evaluate the negative and pessimistic thoughts you have throughout the day, it is easy to see that most are mere fiction and not true.
This is why positivity matters! It helps you live truly and freely, rather than being shackled by unhelpful negative self-talk that can affect your confidence and self-esteem.
These tips may seem too simplistic, but I’ve used them over the years to train my mind into a predominantly positive place, just as many people have done, too.
You can rest assured that using these tips will help you become more optimistic. They are powerful enough to break negative thought patterns and allow you to enjoy all the mental and physical benefits of practicing positivity.