Positivity is choosing to see the bright side of life. It is recognizing that struggle and pain are not all that’s there, even if they’re all we can see in a certain moment. It is seeing the good in people, even when we have to search (really, really hard) for it. And it is about trusting ourselves. I guess it all comes down to this: even with pain, sorrow, and evil, there is always good, and that, friends, is what we should focus our energy on.
On the contrary, negativity is about finding fault and worry in people and situations. It’s about focusing on the one thing that went wrong when a zillion others went right. And it’s about belittling people without attempting to see who they are. But what if our lives aren’t perfect? Should we pretend like our struggles don’t exist? No way José! I used to think that if I shared my hardships, people would think I was being negative. Then I realized that holding in all the bad stuff made me feel even worse. Instead of feeling free and optimistic, I felt trapped.
Repeat after me: Being positive is not about projecting a perfect life.
Rather, it’s about choosing to see the good in life, believing in the power of encouragement, and having hope that things will get better (even when they really, really suck).
Now to the good stuff. No matter where you’re at with choosing positivity, here are some tips for adding some optimism to your life, even when the world craps all over you.
1. Listen to music that gives off the same mood you want to be in. Consider both the tone and type of music and also whether it brings back positive memories from the past. Music is indescribably powerful and using its voodoo magic to brighten up my day has always helped me immensely.
2. Eat healthy. Recently, I’ve been eating healthier and drinking a lot of smoothies packed with nutrients and veggies. I can’t think of anything else to describe my recent mood besides blissful. It is honestly almost odd. I just feel really great each and every day.
3. Make a sunshine file or box. Often times, when people send me kind messages or letters, I save them as a screenshot, either in a file on my computer or in a box in my house. Besides the fact that I’m a
hoarder collector, these messages are dear to me during times when I’m struggling or feel like I don’t matter to the world (we’ve all been there, right?).
4. Surround yourself with positive influences. Find people who believe in you and your dreams. Seek out others who make your spirit feel full and lifted. The other people who bring you down? Decide for yourself if they really have a place in your life. If they don’t, have the courage to move on. For the record, anyone who makes you feel like crap about yourself does not have a place in your life.
5. Practice positivity. By this, I’m talking about actively weaving positive activities into your life to little by little, change your mindset. Just the way a photographer eventually starts seeing the world in pictures, there are things we can all do to eventually see the world in a positive light.
6. Set goals. Having goals to work towards can make us more positive. When we feel stagnant and unconfident, it’s a lot easier to see the bad parts of life. Start small, and remind yourself of all the great things you can accomplish. We love goals here at TNC and, have quite an archive of posts on goal-setting, if you’re interested.
7. Challenge negative thoughts with positive ones. Negative thoughts are the very foundation of negativity and they can seem hard to avoid or erase. But negativity is all about mindset and mindset is all about creating habits. Whenever you think something negative, try to search for the bright side of the situation. Eventually it will feel like second nature. Also, this article is a wonderful resource for getting started and for understanding what positivity is in general.
8. Smile. Simple enough, right? There are actually studies that have proven that just cheesin’ it up can make you happier and more optimistic.
9. Get a pet. I know this tip isn’t for everyone, but getting a dog recently has done wonders for my sense of purpose and happiness. It is amazing what taking care of another being can do for ourselves.
10. Share your issues. Letting your struggles bottle up inside is just a breakdown waiting to happen. If we share our hardships, we can receive encouragement from others that will help us re-focus on our strength, courage, and perseverance. This can be in a variety of ways, from calling a friend to writing a heart-felt blog post.
11. Make your home a positive place to be. I mean, who feels inspired by hospital colored walls and a dirty kitchen? Try adding quotes that inspire you or little pick-me-up messages around your house. Coming home to a house that welcomes me with inspiration is like walking into the arms of a friend who squeezes you tight and reminds you how special you truly are. In case you’re up for a DIY challenge, you might like this positivity garland I made last month. It’s currently adorning my walls and reminds me of the nectar of life each time I see it.
12. Ask yourself – does this really matter? Usually when I find myself being negative, it’s over trivial things that won’t stand a chance in my long-term memory. So why do I let them get to me in the moment? Beats me! When my problems are trivial, I do my best to remind myself that they’re not important. And then I move on.
13. Encourage others. Studies have proven that a lot of our happiness comes from making other people happy (but did you really need a study to tell you that?). If we build positive relationships and motivate other people, we feel good about ourselves, which builds confidence and leads to a positive perspective. Not to mention, it makes other people feel like the unique, special beings they are. Talk about a win-win!
(Related: 5 Ways to Look and Feel More Confident)
14. Focus on the problems in your life. Well, kind of. What I really mean is that in order to be truly positive, we need to shed our negative skin instead of suppressing it. Sometimes, it’s best to recognize the negativity pervading our life, admit it, and then decide that it no longer has a place in our lives. Often, recognizing the problem is a vital part of the solution.
15. Remember, it’s all you. I recently quit a job that brought out the absolute worst in me. I was depressed, negative, and kept telling myself, this isn’t you. I don’t really know who I thought it was, because it was most certainly me being rude and angry. It was later that I realized, it’s all me — the good and the bad. But that doesn’t mean it has to be all me, all the time. I still have a choice whether I want to choose positivity or negativity, kindness or anger. I always have a choice. And guess what? So do you.
What are your strategies for staying positive? I am still learning and have plenty of off-days, too! I’d love to hear how you choose to see the bright side.
*Read the comments for more beautiful strategies from lovely readers!*