8 Awesome Reasons to Blast Negativity Out of Your Life, and How to Do It

by Henrik Edberg

8 Awesome Reasons to Blast Negativity Out of Your Life, and How to Do It
Image by ericmcgregor (license).

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”
W. Clement Stone

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else”
Winston Churchill

I write a lot about having a positive attitude. But why should work on your attitude and try to make it a more consistently positive one? What are the actual benefits?

And how do you go about changing your attitude from a negative one to a more positive one? I’ll get to that a bit further down in this article.

But first, let’s start with the why and 8 awesome reasons to blast negativity out of your life and replace it with a more positive attitude.

  1. Attractiveness. Frankly, I think this is one of the most important reasons to adopt a positive attitude. It just makes you so much more socially attractive in all kinds of ways (with friends and random people you meet, at work/in school or with some cute guy/girl you’re interested in). Plus, a lot of people simply don’t have the patience, time or interest in a lot of negativity. They’ll just spend more time with positive people instead.
  2. You focus on the good things in people. Not their flaws. This will make things much better overall and improve all kinds of relationships.
  3. It’s easier to be more productive. You simply get more things done when you stop laying obstacles in the middle of the road in the form of negative thoughts.
  4. You´ll waste less time and energy. Negativity can be like a self-feeding loop. First you think one negative thought. It leads you to three more. And then you start examining your life in deeper detail through a depressing lens. When you get into vicious cycles like these it can eat up hours, weeks and years of your life. It can drain a lot of your energy whilst trapping you in paralysis by analysis. And you probably won’t become that much wiser in the process. We live for about 24-28 000 days. Don’t waste them.
  5. A circle of positivity. Emotions are contagious. Everyone wants positive emotions. And most want to keep them going so they give back positivity to you too. And so a sort of circle of positivity can be created and strengthened. This makes any interactions/relationships a lot more fun.
  6. It enables you to see things that aren’t there yet. If you are pessimist or a realist you may get stuck in thinking that things will stay the same and a positive change is unlikely. If you think that way then it will be hard to make a big positive change. You have to be able to see it on your mind and have a belief that you can do it to actually be able to achieve it.
  7. Everything becomes more fun. The fun aspect of life and personal development is often a bit overlooked. Positivity makes work, school, relationships, working out and just about everything more fun.
  8. Negativity is stupid. If you look at the reasons above it becomes obvious how much better and more useful positivity is for you. When I feel negative I often simply remember that negativity is worse choice in any situation really. And since I don’t want to make stupid choices I choose to change my attitude in those situations.

8 Awesome Reasons to Blast Negativity Out of Your Life, and How to Do It
Image by notsogoodphotography (license).

How I Do It

So how do you create, maintain and strengthen a positive attitude?

Well, here’s how I do it.

These tips and mindsets allow me to stay positive about 80 percent of the time right now. I expect those numbers to improve even more over the coming months and years. Changing your attitude can be a lot of work at first but after a while a positive attitude becomes and more of a default just like the negative attitude once was for you.

It is important to note that these techniques will become more powerful and easier to use after a while because you form a new belief that your emotional states and thought patterns are things you can shift around pretty quickly. This belief makes things a lot easier since your mind is not resisting so much anymore. You just think “Oh, I feel negative and that kinda stupid. Let’s change that to a more positive state of mind”. And your mind goes: ”Well, I guess that is what we can do nowadays so OK!”.

Realize that positivity isn’t something uncool, corny or stupid.

This is the first step and it can be quite a hurdle even though it may seem obvious. If you have been negative or a realist for many, many years then positivity can seem well, kinda stupid and naïve. Your mind and emotional habits are so ingrained that positivity seems a bit too foreign to accept.

However, to get this to work you will have to take a leap of faith. Because you can theorize about how stupid or practically useless a positive attitude may be for as long as you want. You won’t understand it until you just start using it. And to get it to work you can’t have half your mind protesting all the time and thinking that this won’t work.

Sure, you will have doubts about it and they will decrease when you start seeing some positive results in your life. But if you’re doubts are overwhelming then it will be like rowing forward with one hand and rowing backward with the other hand.

Decide that you will make this conscious change in your attitude. Or at least that you will ignore your doubts and just give it a try during the whole month of February.

Take care of the fundamentals.

This is for me the most important thing you can do to maintain and strengthen your positive attitude. How you eat, sleep and workout is huge factor. A good lifestyle, how you live your life on normal days determine how you feel and think.

For example, exercising and keeping my testosterone levels pretty high consistently – I do that by focusing on free weight exercises that target many and big muscle groups – is a very simple way to get a lot of positive emotions to flow through my body automatically. A good workout always seems to do the trick.

Positive influences.

Fill your mind and emotional system with positive input from people, music and programs/books. Other people’s thoughts have a big influence and emotions are contagious.

Limit your time with negative people. Reduce TV or magazines that may make you feel worse about what you don’t own or your body. Or just create fear and negativity within you (for instance a lot of news shows). Limiting negative influences can make it a lot easier to keep the positive attitude up.

Set the context for your day.

What you do early in the day often sets the context for your day. We have a tendency to want to be consistent with what we have done before. You can use that your advantage in few ways. You can for example do the hardest thing on your to-do list first. When it’s done you’ll feel good about yourself and it makes the day feel easier and you’ll have less inner resistance to getting the rest of the tasks of the day done.

Another example is to start your day of great socially by acting social (even if you don’t feel like it). This tends to make a normal day a lot more fun and positive than if you if you start out by being closed off and feeling guarded.

Act as you want to feel.

Act as if you are feeling positive. After a few minutes you will actually feel it for real. So smile. Use positive language. And so on. It feels weird at first but it really works.

Cut the negative threads of thought quickly.

Do it before you get stuck in them. If I go down a negative spiral of thoughts I quickly – within a minute or two – think “Hmm, negativity is stupid and won’t help me”. And then I choose to focus on the more positive aspects of whatever I’m thinking about or I start thinking about something else.

Reframe using questions.

I use questions like “What’s awesome about this situation?” and “Is this useful?” to get myself out of negative perspectives and shift my focus to more positive and useful aspects of anything.

Be present.

I write a lot about being present. One big reason for that is when you are present you are naturally feeling pretty awesome. You become positive, calm and fears you may have are greatly reduced. One way to reconnect with the present is simply to take 30 belly breaths and focus on your in and out-breaths.

Another is to just look at what’s right in front of you right now. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the fabric of your clothes and focus on how they feel.

Acceptance.

Sometimes you encounter negative thoughts or moods that you just can’t seem to be able to shake. When this happens – for instance in situations where you have little control, like when you are sick or waiting for your exam results – I use acceptance. By accepting how I feel I stop feeding more energy into the negativity. And so it often disappears or is at least reduced.

Take action.

Inactiveness, indecision and procrastination tend to create negativity. A good way to get around this common problem is to set that positive and active context for your day.

Do the right thing.

Indecision and doing what you know deep down is not right will create negative feelings and thoughts within. Do what you think is right and you will create a lot more positive feelings within.

A habit of gratitude.

Being grateful for all the things you have – health, roof, family, friends, opportunities, food etc. – is a great little tool to shift a negative mood to a positive one. It only takes a minute or two.

When you spend some time regularly to focus on all the good things in your life it also becomes natural to expect more good things to flow into your life. And what you expect from the world is often what you get.

Meditation.

I use guided mediations like Paraliminals, but any form of meditation seems to have positive effects on how you feel and think. A favourite of mine to gain a boost of positivity and eliminate negative thoughts and self-talk is the Self-Esteem Supercharger. I use various Paraliminals about four or five times a week right now.

What are your best tips for building and maintaining a positive attitude?

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{ 19 comments }

Joanne January 24, 2009 at 3:25 am

Thanks. This blog has been a great resource for me. I’ve found as I’ve gradually switched to a positive outlook I’ve ended up with a lot more time. Amazing how much time can be wasted getting caught in negative thought cycles.

Melanie Thomassian January 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Hey Henrik!

I just had to come over and comment on this. It’s so true! There’s absolutely no benefit in harbouring negetivity in your life.

I’ve written recently about it on my site, but this article covers a lot more ground.

Stumbled!

Chetz Yusof January 24, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Thanks for the post Henrik. I’ve been trying to be positive person. I’m always affected by my surroundings or external factors.

But thanks to the post. I’ll use your tips.

Chetz Yusof

Nicolai - Happiness Cafe January 24, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Good bullets Henrik, I like particularly reframing, a geninius tool from NLP.

Laura B January 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Thank you! I am a life long positive person, I was just blessed with a mostly positive outlook on life. Granted there have been times in my life when under a great deal of family trauma my well of optimism has run at dangerously low levels but thankfully I have been able to bounce back.

What hit home with me in this article (I love reading this blog, BTW) is your mention of feeling corny and stupid, wow! I can’t tell you how often I have had people act like I am stupid or corny for being optimistic. People have even gotten angry at me. It seems some folks like their negativity and any attempts to persuade them otherwise are met with contempt.

There have been other times when I have been treated as though I must not be very smart because if I was I would know that the only response to a given situation is negativity. In order to stay positive through such situations I have had to learn to first validate myself and then to have a supply of like minded people, good books and sites like this to keep me going.

Keep up the good work.

Vincent January 24, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Hi Henrik,

By reframing our situations into more positive one is a method that I use to blast away negativity. I found that no matter how bad a situation look, there is always ways to reframe it into something positive which makes this method so powerful.

Cheers
Vincent
Personal Development Blogger

Arswino January 25, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Hi Henrik, great stuff here. I like the way you described.
“Hmm, negativity is stupid and won’t help me”. I love that saying.
Thanks for sharing, Henrik.

Henrik Edberg January 26, 2009 at 1:01 am

Thanks guys, glad you found the article helpful. :)

Laura B: Yeah, people can find a lot of comfort and a sense of security in the beliefs and thought habits that they have kept up for most of their lives. When someone challenges those beliefs by for instance being positive it’s not always welcome and may be seen as a bit of a threat to the “normal order of things”.

Sounds like you got a good plan to help you during those times when it’s easy to get drawn into other people’s negativity though.

Michelle January 26, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Hi Henrik,

Thank you for posting this article. I wrote a similar article which is a list of ways to transform negativity into positivity a couple of weeks ago.

I think setting the context for the day is an excellent tip. When you start the day with negative thoughts, feelings or negative talk it can have a negative effect on your entire day.

I have found that acting and thinking more positivitely dramatically changes the way you feel.
I have been reading your blog for a while but never commented, infact I have only ever commented on a couple of blogs.

life-post.blogspot.com

Val January 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

This is great. I don’t usually print things off but I printed this so I can refer back to it and keep gleaning from it. My favorite thing was asking, “What’s awesome about this situation?” Now that will change up the thought processes, won’t it?

Martin Wildam January 26, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Your post has some enthusiastic effect on me – however there remains a question: How can I distinguish being positive from suppression. I have seen several people being very optimistic and positive following routes that ended up in a disaster.

Although I want to reduce worries and negative feelings often they are somehow a warning sign. How can I best distinguish negativity from a warning sign?

Henrik Edberg January 27, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Martin: Well, you can never be safe from failure. And failure can be a great way to learn things that you must learn to achieve success in the future.

I think one way is to look at people – or talk to them – that have taken the same route that you want to take and achieved what you want to achieve and see if you are being totally unrealistic or going about things the wrong way.

You can also identify recurring patterns in yourself such as for instance always being negative and worried before a big meeting. But review what has happened in the past and realize that maybe just 5 percent of all the meeting you have been worried about over all those years actually ended up in disaster.

s.przada January 29, 2009 at 3:17 am

Positive energy needs to be the fuel that keeps this world burning !!

Alex January 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Henrik,

I believe one of the best ways to generate positivity is through cooperation. Having a mindset that looks to help others is rewarded by smiles and reciprocity. Most people are willing to accept a helping hand, and those who are not are not worth your time especially if they are influenced by negativity. Even the smallest of favors can go a long way in brightening another person’s day and ultimately yours too. When I help somebody else often I feel a sense of positive satisfaction that can emulate throughout the rest of the day and sometimes even longer. Working with and helping others is an important part of the positivity circle that hopefully will envelop our society more and more each day.

It’s great reading your blog I especially like the quotes. Keep up the good work.

Alex

cris@MiamiLifeCoach January 31, 2009 at 2:41 am

Thanks Henrik for these positive stuff. People fail to achieve their goals because they believe they can make it by their own strength and wisdom. In fact a lot of positive persons are still failing because they miss out a positive attitude. I believe thinking positive is different from being positive. Attitude is the big keyword then. Many men are tough but a failure because they have no tender attitude. I hate negative people but I hated more those selfish, greedy men. Finally they are doomed by the people and doomed to failure. However, negative people are destructive. They are fatal to human race. But they are also beloved, they should follow the basics. They have to learn the power of acceptance and courage . Take a leap of faith from God. They have nothing to fear but God. I owe some courageous step from my friend at kamja who taught me how to overcome fear and failures to which I’m always proud for.

Ana January 31, 2009 at 3:03 am

Hi there Henrik,
I wanted to post and let you know I really enjoyed this because you brought up a number of very good, new points. I read a lot on positive thinking so after a while you hear the same things over and over (which can be beneficial in itself) but something new is always refreshing.

Also the comments here are very insightful and right on, especially Alex and Laura B. From what I have seen overly negative people are the least likely to pull through and actually help others when things go wrong. It’s the can-do, clear thinking, take charge people who step up to the plate. In boom times negativity is more easily tolerated but in times, like now, of great mass stress it can be very problematic to ones survival. People should do what ever they can to be more positive and look at ways to up their problem solving skills. Blogs like yours are of course a huge resource.

Kara January 31, 2009 at 5:09 am

Henrik,

Greetings from San Francisco! First of all, I want to tell you how inspiring your posts have been for me lately. Yet tonight I find myself stumbling back to negativity. I just had a terrible fight with my father about his living situation.
My parents are divorced. For six years now, my father has lived in a studio apartment, ever since I was fourteen. He insists that its the only arrangement he can afford. Truth is, he can afford bigger (he’s a white collar professional) but he wants to be able to wake up and walk to work on Saturdays for his second job. The problem: the two jobs he works are far away (1 hr) away from each other. Of course, I’ve found a larger apartment for him for the same cost as the one he pays now, yet the drawback is that it deprives him of the beloved proximity to his second job (which he only works one day a week, but loves). He says he’ll consider my offer but doubts anything will improve for a while. But it’s the same thing he’s been telling me for years. I know he hasn’t looked. He doesn’t own a computer. Plus, working all the time, he’s very busy. The only thing he can afford in the area he lives in now is a studio. Moving to the apartment I’ve found brings him closer to his first job but far away from his second, at the same price. More importantly, though, it’ll ease the psychological burden on me and the family. His isolation has taken a tough toll on us.
I know this sounds frivolous (and maybe it is) but I’m hurt seeing my father live this way. The effects of his situation have been hard. At times his motives for staying put seem selfish. His studio is not exactly accommodating for guests. When I’m away I’m afraid he’s lonely. Yet he tells me he’s happy with it all. Another problem: I’m not.
I love him, but I’m concerned about him. I feel like I’ve been forced into the caretaker role. It feels dysfunctional. I hate it. Yet removing myself from this issue has been incredibly frustrating and difficult. He has very little: barely any silverware (he took a few forks and knives from my mother’s house), doesn’t even own an oven (he cooks with an old, grubby microwave), among many other things. I find myself worrying about everything from his health to his well-being. When I suggest anything, he guilt trips me and tells me that as his daughter I should respect his decisions.
He has plenty of friends but none of them see truly see his situation or this behavior. Other family members are a little concerned, but no one does anything. He’s 57. Frankly, he needs some help. What would you recommend I do physically versus mentally? How would you go about looking at this positively? I love him so much. All I’m asking for is a tiny scrap of harmony.

-Kara from S.F

Henrik Edberg February 3, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Kara: I understand that it’s a frustrating situation. And I don’t really know what more you can do. Trying to change people generally doesn’t work, they have to be ready to change themselves. You have helped him out with different suggestions and support him.

You should go on doing that I think but be careful to not be get too pushy about it. He does have his own life to live too. I think you should help him out and support him but also don’t get stuck in focusing on that but focus on other things in your life more that brings you more positivity.

I don’t know if this helps. I hope your situation changes for the better soon.

mike July 22, 2009 at 5:10 am

i know if i did not read this i still would be thinking bad thanks so much

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