We’ve all been on the receiving end of advice to “just stay positive!” And while this piece of advice often comes from a good place, there are times when it can come across as unrealistic.
You see, keeping positive 24/7 isn’t always as easy as it seems. Sure, it’s practically effortless when things are going your way, but it gets harder when you have to deal with a lot of challenges at the same time.
And it doesn’t help that our brains are hard-wired to watch out for threats, both real and imagined. When the imagined threats are magnified, it makes every day a struggle.
This is why you need to start thinking of positivity as more than just an instant remedy. It’s an attitude that can only be cultivated over time, with much patience and determination. So, if you want to have a more optimistic outlook, you need to build habits that will help you remain positive even during the worst days.
How to stay positive during difficult times
Make the choice to stay positive
The world can be an amazing place to live in, but only if you choose to see it that way. One thing that sets the optimists apart from the pessimists is that optimists choose to see the good in every situation. Even in the middle of a big storm, optimists will choose to think about the rainbow that appears after.
Whether you’ve been hurt by someone close to you or failed at something you set out to do, you’re still in control over how you respond to the negative situation. The choice of how to stay positive is still yours.
To quote American MMA fighter, Rose Namajunas:
One way you can train your mind to look at the positive side of life is to ask yourself the following questions whenever you find yourself in a negative situation.
- What is this situation teaching me?
- What is one opportunity that I can get from this situation?
- How is this situation going to make me better, smarter, or stronger?
Start your day right
One of the most underrated tips on how to stay positive is to develop a morning routine. It doesn’t matter if you wake up at 4 or 11, doing something that you look forward to and enjoy first thing in the morning helps you get a good start.
Developing a positive mindset requires intentional effort. And the best way that you can intentionally start your day right is with a few minutes of meditation. The same way that the body needs constant movement to stay in shape, the mind needs moments of stillness to be at its best.
Tim Ferris, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, includes meditation in his “win the day” morning ritual. For him, meditation allows him to get more done with less stress.
As soon as you wake up, sit up with your feet touching the ground. Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths for 5 minutes. Take this time to focus on yourself before your mind gets bogged down with the things you need to do for the day.
Connect with positive people
Countless sayings teach us the importance of choosing the people we spend time with. My favorite has to be the Japanese proverb that goes:
it’s no secret that the people you spend the most time with can have a huge impact on how you live your life. The decisions you make will ultimately reflect the kind of company you keep. If you’re having a hard time maintaining a positive attitude, it’s probably because you’re spending a lot of time with people who are unable to deal with their stresses in life.
Even after 14 years, the Refinery29 team is as strong as ever. Founders Philippe von Borries, Justin Stefano, Piera Gelardi, and Christine Barberich have built a multimillion media brand on a shared premise that they continue to uphold to this day: to help modern women live well-rounded lives.
Positivity, as well as motivation, can be very contagious. Surround yourself with positive people who can support you in reaching your goals. Cut your ties with toxic people. Pretty soon, it will start to show in your attitude and actions.
Keep a gratitude journal
It’s easy to dwell on every single thing that’s going wrong in your life when you don’t know just how good you have it. Whatever situation you’re in, there is always something that you can be grateful for. And the best way to keep track is by writing down all the things you feel thankful about in a gratitude journal.
There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal. For me, it doesn’t just help me focus on the bright side, but it also allows me to release pent-up negative energy. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by my problems, I take my journal out and start writing down what I’m thankful about. Writing each one down just makes them more real.
For media mogul Oprah, making gratitude her daily priority has allowed her to be more receptive to positive energy. Writing them down has been the single most important thing she’s done in her life.
Instead of just writing down a list, try to elaborate on why you’re grateful for a person, thing, or circumstance. Don’t be afraid to get personal, especially when you’re writing about people you are grateful for.
Unplug from technology
How you choose to spend your time can also have a huge impact on your outlook on life. Scrolling through Instagram or bingeing on Netflix can alter how you see your reality. And while these technological advances aren’t harmful per se, using them in excess can affect your mental and emotional health.
The truth is, our brains enjoy the constant stimulation that mobile devices have to offer. So much so that many of us have become addicted to the likes, shares, and comments that come in real-time. Too much screen time, however, has been proven to have a negative effect on the brain, resulting in a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
Celebrities like Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande have made headlines when they temporarily left social media for a time. Just proves that everyone, even celebrities, needs to go on a digital detox every once in a while.
Set a social media or TV schedule and stick to it. If your work involves a lot of screen time, make sure to take a 10-minute break for every 50-minute work period. Keep your bedroom a no-screen zone as staring at digital screens disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm, making it much harder for you to get a good night’s sleep.
Take better care of yourself
While regular exercise, healthy eats, and adequate sleep may not do much to improve your negative situation, taking better care of yourself can do wonders in changing your response. When you start to ignore your physical needs, it eventually leads to stress, burnout, and chronic stress.
Our physical well-being is just as important as our emotional well-being. When you’re in good shape, it’s easier to be positive and happy. And according to experts, practicing self-care isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for the people around you.
Superstar Jennifer Lopez believes that investing in her well-being has made her a better partner and parent. To be in a healthy relationship with others, she first needs to have a healthy relationship with herself.
I find running to be a great stress reliever, especially when negative thoughts start to get the best of me. I would run around the block for 30 minutes, or until I’ve burned all the excess energy that’s feeding my anxiety. A good sweat is usually all I need to reframe the situation I’m dealing with at the moment.
Face your fears
Sometimes, it’s not the possibility of failing that will hold you back. It’s the fear of the unknown. Maybe you’re going through a tough time and you finally see an opportunity to turn it all around. But no matter how hard you try to move, you feel lost and trapped in your vague fears.
Facing your fears could be one of the most important steps you can take towards developing a positive mindset. It doesn’t just clear your head of all those nightmare scenarios you’ve created, it also helps you build your confidence.
English singer-songwriter Adele may have already won 15 Grammy awards, but all that came with a cost. She admits to having severe anxiety attacks before her performance and has even tried to escape from shows a couple of times. But instead of calling it quits on her career, Adele continues to write and belt out ballads for her fans.
Instead of focusing your attention on the worst-case scenario, think of the things that you can actually control in your current situation. Always remember that your fears only exist in your mind.
Contribute to society
One way to divert your attention away from negativity is to look for ways you can add value to someone else’s life. By looking beyond yourself, you’ll realize there’s so much you can do to spread a message of positivity to others.
Helping someone in need doesn’t just make another person’s situation better, but it also makes you feel better about yourself and your situation. Studies show that giving back to the community uplifts your mood and even helps you live longer. Plus, kindness can be contagious so it can cause a chain reaction of good deeds in your community
As of 2018, WWE superstar John Cena has already granted 580 wishes through the Make-A-Wish foundation. His reason for granting requests? He believes in the power of hope.
Use your extra time to volunteer for a cause that you’re passionate about. If you don’t have that much time, call up a friend you haven’t checked up on for a while and invite them over for a meal. You can also try to encourage someone from work who is having a bad day.
Be inspired by the law of attraction
The law of attraction states: whatever you focus your mind and energy on, the universe will find a way to turn that into reality. So if you’re always thinking of negative thoughts, the universe will eventually turn them into negative situations.
Even if you don’t believe that the universe has this power, there are still some aspects of the law of attraction that you can use to help you stay positive. For one, it can empower you to take control of your thoughts and your life. If there’s something you don’t like about your current situation, you know you have the power to change it.
Actor Jim Carrey credits his success to the law of attraction. When he was still a struggling actor, he wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 dated 3 years later. In 1995, almost 3 years after he wrote the check, he found out that he was getting paid $10,000,000 for his performance on Dumb and Dumber.
Try using visualization to change how you respond to a negative situation. Before going to bed, visualize yourself overcoming whatever it is that’s holding you back. For example, If you’re worried about a job interview or a big exam, imagine yourself succeeding and experiencing the positive emotions that come with it.
While some of the tips you’ve read may seem pretty basic, they can be quite effective in helping you break old habits. Throw yourself into the process and you’ll be reaping the benefits of how to stay positive in no time!