9 Simple Ways to Be a More Positive Person

23 May ‘22
3 min
Lisanne van Marrewijk
Reviewed by psychologist Madelief Falkmann
How you think determines how you feel. A positive mindset helps you to approach challenges in your life with an optimistic outlook. Better still: research shows that positive thinkers have an improved quality of life and live longer. Positive thinking acts as an antidote to stress, fatigue, depression, and even viruses. But how can you cultivate a positive mindset?

 

These tried-and-tested techniques will help you to think more positively.

 

1. Be grateful

 

If you read our blog often, you’ll definitely have come across this tip. That’s because it just really works, if you ask us. Gratitude helps you to focus your attention on the wonderful things in life. It provides perspective when you’re feeling frustrated, anxious, or sad and helps you to enjoy everyday moments of happiness.  

 

You can practice gratitude through meditation or by keeping a gratitude journal. For example, write down three things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. What went well, what was fun, and what are you proud of?

 

2. Challenge your negative thoughts

 

Negative thoughts are part of being human. They sometimes turn up uninvited. In order to put a positive spin on these thoughts when they arise, it’s important to first observe them. 

 

Do you catch yourself complaining about work, criticizing other people, or dwelling on your mistakes? Then sit with these thoughts for a while. Afterwards, think of two positive counterarguments to these thoughts. For example: Work isn’t fun right now, but better times will come along. Also, I have lots of great colleagues who are fun to be around.

 

3. Be kind to yourself

 

We are often our own harshest critics. That’s a shame because being strict with yourself is demotivating and can lead to a poor self-image. So, try to put your inner critic in its place or give things a positive spin moving forward. 

 

Instead of deciding that you’re lazy or lacking ambition because you didn’t complete your to-do list, try to speak to yourself using positive language: ‘Today it didn’t work out because it just wasn’t a good day for me. No worries, I’ll try again tomorrow.’ 

 

 

4. Take credit for positive events

 

Is something wonderful happening in your life? Then consider how your personality or skills brought this about. Optimists are quick to take credit for good things, while pessimists are more likely to attribute them to external factors or chance. If you get positive feedback on a project, then think about how you contributed. No more: “Oh, but it was such an easy project”. Choose positivity! 

 

💡 Try reading: How to Turn Stress and Fear into a Good Thing

 

5. Help other people

 

This is the best win-win situation there is in life. When you help another person, you’re also helping yourself. Whether you’re donating money to a good cause, helping a friend move house or giving your brother a hand writing a cover letter, you’ll immediately feel happier. A wonderful side effect: Kind people also live longer.

 

6. Celebrate life!

 

Don’t wait for your birthday, a promotion, or a marriage proposal to celebrate life. The little things are also worth celebrating. Met a deadline? Went to the gym? Finally, completed that boring task you’ve been putting off for ages? Seen a beautiful sunset? Take a moment to reflect on this and reward yourself with a treat.

 

Life is happening right now. So, celebrate it every day.

 

7. Focus on your body first and your thoughts will take care of themselves

 

Research shows that laughing reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. Laughter also improves your mood and is good for your self-confidence. So, let yourself laugh. Even – maybe especially – if you’re in a difficult situation. In fact, a forced or fake laugh or smile also immediately reduces stress and improves your mood. You’re tricking your brain, so to speak. Try it for yourself.

 

A positive posture helps too: Keep a straight back, push your shoulders down, and hold your chin up. A positive posture ensures a positive mental attitude. 

 

8. Get outside

 

This is probably the tip that’s easiest to implement. Exercising and getting outside are proven to be good for your mood and, therefore, help you to be more an optimistic person.

 

9. Escape the crab bucket

 

Have you ever heard about the fascinating phenomenon of crabs in a bucket? Even if they could easily crawl out, crabs pull each other back down whenever one tries to escape. 

 

People can be like that too sometimes. Do you feel like there are people in your life who are bringing you down? Then try to spend more time with people who bring out the best in you. 

 

Positivity is contagious. By surrounding yourself with positive people, there’s a greater chance that you’ll feel better and more self-assured. Sometimes that isn’t possible. For example, if you have a colleague who always drains your energy. In this case, try not to pay too much attention to this person and instead focus on the positive people in the group.

 

 

This doesn’t mean that you need to suppress difficult thoughts

 

 

Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you should suppress or ignore negative thoughts. Sometimes things happen in life that are just not positive. It’s important to let out all the associated emotions, such as sadness or fear, so that you can then process them. Nobody is always sunshine and rainbows. 

 

 

👉 For further reading see: Why Negative Thoughts and Feelings Are Good For You Too 

 

 

Notice your negative thoughts and try not to fight them. When you don’t try to resist them, your negative thoughts actually have less impact on you. A commonly used metaphor in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is that you’re playing tug of war with a monster (aka, your negative thoughts). As long as you keep pulling, you’ll never win. The only thing you can do is to let go of the rope and walk away.

 

 

💡 Another interesting read: 6 Ways to Step out of Your Comfort Zone and into Your Growth Zone