We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
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.
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.
- 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.
- You focus on the good things in people. Not their flaws. This will make things much better overall and improve all kinds of relationships.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 naive. 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.
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?Is this useful? to get myself out of negative perspectives and shift my focus to more positive and useful aspects of anything.
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.
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.
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.
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?