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 how to be a more positive person by 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. 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. For me, meditation, dancing, and gratitude journaling bring joy into my day to day life.
You know what else helps me be more positive? Listening to uplifting podcast episodes. Check out the Pursuit With Purpose podcast for beautiful interviews with inspiring people who are changing the world. Each episode comes with its own free worksheet or checklist too, so you can put your learnings into action! 🙂
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 and have quite an archive of posts on goal-setting, if you’re interested.
Pssst…If you like what you are reading, I have a free checklist for you. Just click the button below and get it instantly! It’s an easy way to learn how to be more positive, every day!
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 heartfelt 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.
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 quit a job once 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.
I know, there are a lot of tips here. So don’t forget to download your free checklist about being more positive, by clicking the button below!
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!*
June 12th, 2013 at 9:02 am
Wow! Between this and your “24 Lessons from 24 Years” – you’ve given me so much to think about!! I am l-o-v-i-n-g TNC!
In addition to eating healthy, I’d also append “getting enough sleep”. It’s profound how dark and negative I can feel when I have something stressing me mixed with a poor night’s sleep. All the negativity just gets so magnified!
Btw, I’m considering doing Weekly Wishes… just hesitant to commit in case I can’t/don’t follow through (although, I bet if I commit, I WILL follow through…). We’ll see!
June 13th, 2013 at 12:16 am
You make me smile 🙂 I’m really glad you are able to find things here that you connect to.
I totally agree on getting enough sleep (something I need to work on!). But you’re right – I feel like a total drone with even one less hour than usual.
And I’d love for you to join the Weekly Wishes crew! I don’t want you to feel pressured to have to complete your goal though! The point is just to get some motivation to want to try, but no one will be mad at you if you don’t finish! Promise 🙂
June 12th, 2013 at 12:41 pm
Excellent list Melyssa!
I can’t agree more with #2.
I like to say “eat better, feel better!”
I also have a sunshine box 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 12:16 am
Thank you Catherine! You’re so right – eating is such an important factor for how we feel! And I’m glad you have a sunshine box too 🙂 They’re lovely.
June 12th, 2013 at 5:38 pm
ugh you’re amazing with your positive vibe. i admit, i’m not the most positive person in the world but i’m married to one. i think these tips are perfect because so many times the things we’re down about will pass with a little time. we just need to do things like this (music is my favorite ones) to keep us going
June 13th, 2013 at 12:17 am
haha your boy seems like he would be! And I’m not always the most positive person either, so I need these tips as much as you! I always listen to music in the morning to get me out of that I-hate-the-world-and-just-want-to-sleep funk 🙂
June 12th, 2013 at 5:49 pm
These tips are great. I’m definitely not a positive person but I’ve been trying lately. A clean house helps and I agree with happy music and owning a dog. 🙂 I also really enjoy meditation. I’ve only started recently, but it already does wonders.
June 13th, 2013 at 12:20 am
I’m really glad you like them! I’m not always super positive either and need to remind myself to use these, too. As long as we try 🙂 I almost added meditation to this list because a lot of my friends like it and I want to try it! But when I went to write the blurb about meditation I realized I have no idea what it’s like so I just backspaced haha. Maybe I’ll try it this week! What do you do? I’m imagining a super zen pose and candles but that’s probably just my stereotypical imagination…
June 12th, 2013 at 11:23 pm
sunshine box? oh I love it! In college I had a ‘wake up wall’ where I posted my favorite things / reminders of love. I placed it on the wall oppose of my bed so that it was the first thing that I saw in the morning
ps, I especially love this since I have a master’s degree in positive psychology 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 12:21 am
I LOVE that idea! It even has a cute name. 🙂 I also love that you got a master’s in positive psychology! I want to go to grad school within the next few years and have been toiling with different degree ideas. I will add that to my list of possibilities. 🙂
June 12th, 2013 at 11:31 pm
I love this! (I feel like I say this on every post I comment on, but seriously, I love all your posts!) I’m a pretty positive person to begin with, but there are days when I can’t help but focus on the negativity. I will definitely incorporate these tips into my life. I think for me, to stay positive, I always think about the ultimate reason why I’m doing things. It could be because I’m doing things for others to learn and grow, I’m doing things for myself to learn and grow, and so on. Everything is a learning experience to learn and grow from (lots of learning and growing in my mind haha), no matter how hard things may get. Other things I like doing to feel more positive are to read positive messages and being nice to others.
I’m going to have to make that positivity garland when I love! Not only is it really cute, I think it’ll help making my home a happier place to be 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 12:23 am
You’re too sweet Mallory! And I love the fact that you always think about the reason you’re doing things. Just yesterday I was thinking that I want to be more deliberate with my actions and really do everything for a purpose. Your comment really inspired me to consider that idea more and really think about why I do what I do. I also love your “learning and growing” mindset. I totally relate to that. I even have a tattoo from my favorite poem that says, “like a root growing.” 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 12:30 am
I love the sunshine post. I had never thought of that. What a great way to keep positive! x
June 13th, 2013 at 12:33 am
Thanks Bonnie! Glad you like it. It’s one of my favorites from this list 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 12:52 am
What a ray of sunshine this post is!
I totally agree on getting a dog/pet. It’s been proven that dogs lower the blood-pressure of a household ^.^
I try to practise as many of these as I can in my day to day. Another positive practise I like is writing~ snail mail letters, journals and my blog; I find it such a good way to sit down and pick out all the positive parts of my day to write about.
Even if it’s been a bit of a sh*tty day, there is ALWAYS something in there to smile about >.<
June 13th, 2013 at 1:08 am
You have to update me on your new pup! I bet she’s amazing 🙂
And I love your idea of writing and totally agree with you. I used to keep a “happiness journal” where I wrote down happy things that happened that day before bed. It was really nice 🙂
June 14th, 2013 at 3:00 am
Jess is the bees knees and the cats pajamas. We all love her to death! But OMG, house training. I can’t even. She’s 4 months old and she’s still having accidents inside :-s How is your training with the dude going? I’d love some tips! Or was he pre-trained when you got him? Xx
June 14th, 2013 at 7:06 pm
Aw I’m so happy she’s bringing so much joy to your house 🙂 When I got Monja, he was almost 6 months old and not house trained. Lots of accidents at first. Now he is 8 months old and he’s only had one accident in the past two weeks and I think it was bc he wasn’t feeling well that day (throwing up, etc). Let me share whatever I can!
I used to put him in his crate whenever I couldn’t watch him closely (taking a shower, working intensely on the comp, etc). Do you use a crate? I recommend crate training! Bc dogs don’t want to dirty their crate, so they will hold it until they are let out. Also, if they do an accident inside, you should pick them up (even mid-pee if possible) and immediately take them outside. I didn’t really understand the point of this at first, but now I see that it was to get them to see the pattern that whenever they pee inside, they have to go outside. I also tried to teach a potty command and whenever he goes outside, I get super excited and give him treats and while he’s going, I say “go potty.” Eventually, they can sort of poop on command! haha.
The last thing I think is to keep in mind when she has to go. I read online (and found it to be true with Monja) that he always has to pee after heavy playing, taking a nap, and an hour or so after eating. Eventually, I stopped waiting for signs that he had to pee and I would just take him out after each of those things and he went. For about a month, we’d also go outside like 7-8 times a day, so it was a lot!
Let me know if you have any questions or need me to elaborate more! 🙂
June 16th, 2013 at 4:01 am
Thank you so much for the great tips! We do use a crate at night time and she never ‘goes’ in there at all, just on the carpet during the day :s I didn’t know about the half hour after eating, that’s a really good one, will watch out for that from today. We just got a new pup yesterday so I hope Jess doesn’t ‘unlearn’ everything so far. Ack!!
June 17th, 2013 at 4:14 am
Aww I’m jealous you got another pup! 🙂 I can’t wait to get Monja a sibling one day. Crazy dog lady here I come!
June 13th, 2013 at 5:05 am
Your blog is one of the first I found after starting my own and you really inject positivity into my life. I love to come home, or wake up and read these posts ( as I did just now) as they set me in a better mood for the whole day. Really been struggling with remaining positive in the last year or so, but you help to keep me striving towards positivity and pushing past the negativity.
June 13th, 2013 at 7:09 am
Jen, your comment means so so much to me! I have definitely been there when being positive was really difficult (for example, my recent job in #15), so I know how it feels to struggle with it. I’m really happy that you’re able to find positive things on this site and I hope we can both continue our quests toward positivity together 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 7:07 am
Love this post. Such great ideas – will definitely be trying these out the next time I’m stressed or a bit blue 🙂
Been reading about mindfulness wich covers a few of these too, really interesting.
June 13th, 2013 at 7:10 am
Thank you Daisy! Have you been reading a book about mindfulness? It sounds like something I’d love to read! Someone in a previous comment talked about being more deliberate and I feel like they are similar. I really like the idea of being more mindful and I need to focus on incorporating it into my life more. Thank you for reminding me of that. 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 7:35 am
I read this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0072PQ0N2 after going to a seminar about Mindfulness and social media – it was really interesting. I had found myself REALLY stressed out and run down during a job last year and needed help, so when I heard about the seminar I had to go. We used mindfulness techniques and a little meditation to focus on the moment at hand and being present and it worked! I still find it difficult to really take the time to sit and practice, but when I do I feel so relaxed and focused.
It’s worth looking in to.
June 14th, 2013 at 7:07 pm
That sounds great! I am definitely going to look into that book. Thanks for the rec 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
Ahhh music is my number one to happiness as well, whenever I am feeling anxious or stressed some classical music does wonders.
June 14th, 2013 at 7:07 pm
Ohh for some reason I hadn’t considered classical music, but that sounds like it would be so de-stressing! I need to try that 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 4:04 pm
I like this post, especially #9.
Side note: What is your favorite smoothy mix. My colleague has been juicing and I’m thinking about joining the club.
June 14th, 2013 at 8:20 am
June 14th, 2013 at 7:10 pm
June 14th, 2013 at 7:10 pm
Thank you! I’m glad you liked #9! 😉 How old is Einstein?
I’m working on a smoothie post for next week (hopefully I can finish it) with lots of ideas for good smoothies because usually I’m lazy and just throw in whatever I have! But I always use some granola, almonds, and a leafy vegetable, like spinach, along with fruits. Also, every morning I’ve been drinking a green smoothie and I love it! I really think that a lot of that healthy happiness I described in #2 is from that smoothie. It’s 2 cups water, 1 packed cup of spinach or kale, 1/2 cup not packed parsley, a banana, and a green apple! Tastes great and it’s really healthy! 🙂
June 20th, 2013 at 5:23 pm
Again, I’m bookmarking this post to read it again later, to make sure I’ve taken it all in. I seriously need to incorporate every one of those 15 tips you’ve enumerated. I love tip #9!! Dogs Are the best! Parrots are the best too 😀 They just take more time getting close to. Dogs are all “I love you! You’re my best friend!” after the first couple of weeks, but parrots take a little more time warming up to you. At least, that was the case with my little green hen 🙂 Maybe that was because we were both a tad guarded in the beginning..? Oops, sorry, I’m going off on a tangent here. What was I saying? Oh yeah, I love your blog!
June 20th, 2013 at 9:09 pm
HAHA this comment made me laugh out loud. I loved reading about your relationship with your parrot though! I kind of really enjoyed that tangent and the takeaway message of taking time to get to know each other and building a special relationship. So cool! Never really would’ve expected that with a bird (I love birds though!). Also, I’m glad you liked this post! Thank you for your sweet words.
June 21st, 2013 at 7:51 pm
I absolutely loved this post! More of us need to remember to have some positivity in our lives, we can all be so hard on ourselves. It’s important to remember the rays of sunshine!
June 21st, 2013 at 7:53 pm
Thank you Kayli! I’m so happy you enjoyed it 🙂 And I agree with that statement that we can be too hard on ourselves. It’s so true. And like you said, the rays of sunshine are so important to keep in mind.
By the way, as I was typing this I saw that you like TNC’s Facebook page, too! You rock my world, Ms. Kayli 🙂
June 21st, 2013 at 8:09 pm
Haha, of course! Totally have a blog crush- everything you post sounds just like something I would say. So funny! Keep the great posts coming!
May 23rd, 2015 at 3:50 am
I adore every single one of your posts, thank you so much for sharing so generously and for creating such a beautiful, honest and uplifting space xx
May 25th, 2015 at 3:50 pm
Thank YOU Lisa for this awesome comment I so appreciate your kind words and Im glad you’ve found value here. 🙂
May 25th, 2015 at 4:19 pm
All such great tips! I repeatedly discuss the importance of positivity in life – it is so so important.
May 29th, 2015 at 10:43 am
Thank you so much! And I totally agree, Noelle. 🙂
May 29th, 2015 at 1:31 pm
Great tips. Needed this. I have been finding myself being very negative lately & it’s putting a block on my creativity. A lot of these tips that you have listed I recently thought to myself I need to do more of. Especially the dog part lol. Should be getting one soon, it’s actually more for my son than for me but I still am excited about having it in our home. I am definitely bookmarking this post just to keep as a reminder to myself.
June 1st, 2015 at 12:04 am
I’m really glad to hear that these tips hit home for you, Mandi. Sometimes we just need something to remind us that we’re on the right path. Sounds like you definitely are. 🙂
June 18th, 2015 at 6:37 am
Share with others and ask them to share with you.
telling someone a happy memory or how i got through a tough time (without being condescending ) has always brought a smile to my soul and my face.
June 18th, 2015 at 9:53 am
Love that, Jimmy. 🙂
July 10th, 2015 at 3:06 am
Very much useful information which helped me gain something knowledgeable.
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July 30th, 2015 at 7:19 am
I love this post, we could all do with more positivity in our lives. one tip would be to not dwell on the negative and isolate yourself especially when you are going through a difficult time.
The Beauty Load
July 31st, 2015 at 11:48 am
Such a great tip, Zeynab. I appreciate you sharing that. 🙂
August 25th, 2015 at 11:57 am
Encourage others– YES YES YES!
The more positivity we speak, the better our perspective. It’s a classic case of using actions to shape our desires.
And I love this post so much Melyssa! You nailed it.
August 26th, 2015 at 12:27 pm
You’re awesome, Daisy. Thank you for sharing your positive energy here. I love it! 🙂
August 30th, 2015 at 12:27 pm
This is amazing – especially #15 – the good, the bad and the ugly are all me, all okay, all part of my human-ness. Love this.
September 1st, 2015 at 12:13 pm
Totally, Michelle. 🙂
January 1st, 2016 at 2:11 pm
I love this so much! I’ve been spending a lot of time studying happiness and positivity lately, and you totally nailed it with this one! THANK YOU!
January 4th, 2016 at 6:33 pm
That is such a lovely thing to study Haley! Thank YOU for reading 🙂
January 11th, 2016 at 3:44 pm
This is a great list! I want to add two more to this list – go to a ‘Smash Lab’, if you have one near you and break some sh*t. And grab a friend and go play a physical game (i.e., catch with a baseball, frisbee, basketball, table tennis (which gets real competitive REALLY quickly – haha!, etc).
January 11th, 2016 at 5:49 pm
OMG a SMASH LAB? Say what! That sounds amazing. Also the physical game is a great idea. Thanks Gigi!
January 11th, 2016 at 6:07 pm
My pleasure. ;c>
August 12th, 2016 at 8:24 am
We really sometimes need to take a step back and try to assess if we are still managing our lives the way we want it to be. I have read in Consumer Health Digest that living a positive life can go a very long way <3
August 12th, 2016 at 10:12 am
It really is! Thanks for your insightful comment, Robert. I really appreciate it 🙂
September 15th, 2016 at 8:26 am
Thanks for the reply Melyssa 🙂 You are such a good author that you actually read comments, I am so astonished
September 23rd, 2016 at 11:23 am
You definitely listed such great tips. I always go back to your article to remind myself how to continue having a positive attitude whenever I’m feeling stressed or disappointed! At the end of the day my health and well-being comes first. Thanks for sharing Melyssa <3
September 25th, 2016 at 6:08 pm
I’m so glad you liked this post, Suzanne! Thanks for letting me know 🙂
November 11th, 2016 at 4:46 pm
I have recently been diagnosed with severe depression and apart from the usual help, nothing has perked me up.
However, reading this article has helped me get a grip on becoming more pro-active and positive. I am going through a seriously turbulent time in my marriage and my constant negativity has hardened my beautiful wife’s heart to me. I hope that by being more positive, will help us progress with our marrisage.
November 13th, 2016 at 1:25 pm
I really hope everything works out with your wife, Matt. Being more positive can definitely help the people around you bring their walls down and I hope that’s the case for you.
March 14th, 2017 at 11:24 pm
Radiate positivity and attract positivity!
We are launching a project to radiate positivity through the art of temporary tattoos!
Checking it out at: http://www.chathamink.com
March 14th, 2017 at 11:40 pm
Very cool! Keep on radiating that positivity! 😀
April 29th, 2017 at 7:07 pm
Melyssa, your blog has come up a lot in my radar lately. (I think you’ve noticed that too just by the amount of comments I’ve written out. lol) I love this blog post because it is something I’ve needed for about a week now. I have been dealing with a lot of negative mindset issues due to my mental illness. This negativity has set me back quite a bit and I’ve needed a pick-me-up. Thank you for these tips; I’ll use them when I have another bad day. ????
April 30th, 2017 at 1:49 pm
Thanks for all of your comments, Lisa! I really appreciate them. I hope the tips in this post help you when you need them. 🙂
April 30th, 2017 at 6:57 pm
You are very welcome! Thank you for not being annoyed at the amount of them. I’m a huge introvert and this is a way for me to get out there and engage with people when I normally wouldn’t do that.
January 29th, 2018 at 4:43 pm
Wow, you’ve no idea the help this post has given me 🙂 Thank you!
January 30th, 2018 at 3:15 pm
You’re very welcome, Andrew! 🙂