Having a positive mindset can protect us from having heart attacks and going into depression.
Scientists point out that a positive outlook is a critical ingredient for having sound mental health. The more positive persons have better psychological well-being. Researchers found optimism — one of the six qualities of a positive mindset person — lowers the risk of dying from several diseases.
The good thing is, we can teach ourselves to be more optimistic. So, how do we cultivate a steady and strong positive mindset?
Positive mindset is an attitude of focusing on the bright side of life and keeping a positive approach while hoping for favorable outcomes — in both good and bad times. It means maintaining an optimistic attitude and making positive thinking a habit.
How To Have A Positive Mindset: 10 Tips From Research
Some proven ways to cultivate a strong positive mindset are writing a gratitude journal, being mindfully present, savoring the good things in one’s life, focusing on the flow of the process, engaging in positive self-talk, and being generous.
Of course, cultivating a positive mindset is a learnable skill. Even if we do not have enough of it, we can always build a positive attitude by practicing as many of the ten exercises below.
Here are 10 positivity-enhancing exercises and techniques to build and maintain a positive mindset:
1. Start A Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is a key ingredient for building a positive mindset. Having an attitude of gratitude means appreciating the good things that we have in our lives, and being thankful for them.
To nurture feelings of more gratitude in yourself, start a journal. A journal is a diary of your thoughts, experiences, and observations aimed towards a specific purpose. A gratitude journal is for noting down all the big and little things that make you feel grateful.
One great method is the Three Good Things (TGT). In this, you write down three good things that happened in your day for which you were grateful.
To find out how to do it really well, read the shortest guide on Three Good Things exercise.
Sometimes, a bad event can fill your day with stress, fury, anxiety, and other negative emotions. A single rough event from work, or from your morning commute, can be enough to darken the rest of your day. It happens to all of us.
On such days, your gratitude journal will help you get to bed with a lighter mind.
A positive mindset means focusing on the bright things in your life, and this is where a gratitude journal comes to aid. Gratitude reaps a heap of benefits into your life. It can improve relationships, increase your happiness, protect you from stress, and make you an overall better person.
2. Rise Above The Win-Loss Paradigm
Life is not always about defeating or getting defeated. Life is not a zero-sum game. Give it a thought, really.
Most of the time, your mind has some goals to reach out to, whether clear or undefined. And always, quite a few of these will stubbornly stay outside your control. If you do not acccept this fact, you are probably in for a lot of frustration.
The Stoics, using their four virtues model, just know how to decode the difference between things that bring joy and things that bring headaches.
Now, we all know our fulfilled goals bring us joy, while the unrealized ones leave us loaded with frustration. The first gets us motivated, the second gets us demoralized.
However, if you have a positive mindset, you do not brand your failures as frustrating, loss-making points. Instead, you see them as windows of learning opening up space for future wins. Once you sign up for this failure-driven learning slot, you raise your game above the win-loss paradigm.
A research on video game players found not only winning but also failing can be so much fun that it can keep a person playing longer. Sometimes the wins that come after we have failed, learned from them, and tried again, are more satisfying.
Famous game designer Jane McGonigal writes in her book Reality Is Broken:
Once you sign up for a failure-driven learning slot, you raise your game above the win-loss paradigm. You see your failures and losses as windows of wisdom to future wins. Click To Tweet
As long as our failure is interesting, we will keep trying… and remain hopeful that we will succeed eventually.
So rise above the win-loss archetype, overcome self-criticism, and see your failures as opportunities to learn and improve. See them as your chance to try again harder. Who can stop you if, from this day on, you start to see your failures as prospects to find new solutions?
So, stop defining your efforts and processes in terms of winning or losing. Instead, tell yourself you can either win, or you can learn.
That’s one helpful way to step out of the shadow of a fixed mindset and walk into a growth mindset.
[If you still think it’s hard, here’s help: 7 Proactive Steps To A Successful Life.]
For further help on this, watch Dr. Alia Crum, a psychology professor who researches how a change in mindset can change one’s reality talk to a TEDx audience:
3. Invite Positive Words Into Your Vocab
If you think the way you talk about your experiences and life does little to influence your mindset, you are dead wrong. The words you use day-in and day-out to describe your life make you accordingly a negative or positive mindset person.
If you throw yourself a slew of negative words regularly, you probably spend a good part of your day living and breathing in a climate of negativity.
For example, you just came back from a hike. Now, if you were to describe it as tiring, boring, and soul-sapping, your brain will start making a negative thought pattern of this.
Soon enough, you start to see and describe your other life experiences too as insipid, chaotic, and bad.
But if you check yourself and try to see the joyful parts of your hiking trip, and recount your experience as lively and relaxing, your brain begins to wire up for a new pattern of positive mindset thinking.
Start your mornings by saying aloud a positive affirmation or plugging into an upbeat song you love. You might also maintain a set of instructive and motivational statements in a diary to read the first thing on waking up.
Using positive phrases to describe your life while trying to see the good in most situations can help you reinforce your positive thinking mindset.
When you talk about the present and future in optimistic terms, it can set up your mind to expect good things. You could apply this technique to the past by remembering the positive takeaways from an event that seemed utterly difficult at that time.
From this moment on, you could use more positive words to talk about your life and experiences with others and yourself.
So, fill your mental vocabulary with more positive words. Soon, your mind will stock itself up with positive thoughts, and your life will brim over with positivity.
4. Savour The Good Things In Your Life
Life is full of responsibilities, big and small. Each day you find yourself constantly hurtling from one to another.
You have to wake up, have to eat breakfast, and have to go out for work. You have to go shopping to buy food and clothes. You have to pay for the insurance for your car and house.
You see, your life is full of these things that you have to do. But what if you make a little change in your approach? What if you start seeing these burdens of daily life as things you’ve been blessed with?
- You got a chance to wake up today, so why not savor this morning and this day?
- You got a chance to have your breakfast and go to work, so why not be thankful for these?
- You got a chance to go shopping for food and clothes, and pay your insurance, so why not feel grateful for having the money to do those?
When you see them as burdens, they sound imperative and carry a negative undercurrent.
But when you see them as blessings, they feel permissive and bring a sense of gratitude and joy. This is called the practice of savoring. By changing the way you see everyday things, you take a step forward to place your positive mindset on a higher shelf.
So, begin to savor the good things you already have in your life and feel grateful for having them.
Appreciate the everyday activities you get to do. For example, as you drink a glass of clean water, think of the millions who do not have access to even that. And be thankful and appreciative for that.#Savoring is a great way to stop taking life, and everything good about it, for granted. It makes us happier and more positive. Click To Tweet
Look up and say thanks for the many chances of bliss you’ve had today. Try being a little more thankful to every blessing you have, and every person you come across today. It will develop your attitude of positivity.
5. Pay Attention To Your Breathing
You have probably noticed your emotions impact your breath. If you are angry or anxious, you begin to breathe faster and shorter. This is called hyperventilation.
By breathing fast and shallow, you make your brain think something bad is happening or about to happen. This triggers your stress response. You start becoming oversensitive to negative stimuli. And then it induces an anxiety or panic attack.
Now, the great thing is, not only the emotions influence your breath, but your breath can also influence them.
If you pay attention to your breath, you can control it. If you manage to keep your breath smooth and calm, you start to observe a lifting of your mood.
Bring this positive change in yourself today: Try the following 3 Minute Breath Meditation by Cory Muscara (author of Stop Missing Your Life: The Power of Being Present) now:
Getting to a calm and positive mindset via deep belly breathing (which stimulates our vagus nerve) doesn’t take much time or practice, so you could start away right now. Once you include this into your day, you would feel strong, peaceful, and positive even when stressful events unfold.
6. Focus On The Process
We’re not asking you to take your eyes off the problems in your life. No.
Keeping a positive attitude doesn’t mean you always try to avoid the negatives or bypass the problems. Being positive in mindset means to acknowledge the problems and then focus on the process of finding solutions.
It is easy to fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on the problem because it derails your train to goals. But focusing back on the process itself, and changing tracks to find new solutions, you’ll help yourself get into a higher state of positivity.
It helps immensely to have a sharp focus on the process if you know how to get into a flow state. A flow is a state of optimal happiness, where there’s a perfect balance between the task difficulty and skill level.
The instant feedback from your state of flow prepares you to learn more from your experiences, and rely less on your expectations from them. When you focus on the process while problem-solving, it gets you more optimistic and positive.
In a way, this is the easiest method to cultivate your positive way of thinking. Because all through the day you’re into doing one thing or another. When you become skilled in focusing on the process of whatever you’re involved in, it takes off your mind from the future uncertainties.
7. Show A Little More Generosity
The society today actively promotes egoism and egocentricity, with the social media bombarding you from all sides to get on that “me-first” bandwagon. It’s almost a trend to obsess about how one could make their own lives better first and always.
But if people choose to go easy on that, they could spare a thought about others who are not as blessed or privileged as them — and do a little bit for them. You can do that, right?
You don’t need to buckle under that toxic social pressure. You don’t need to forget you always had the power to look up from your smartphone to do things that put smiles on people’s faces.
You can donate a little, tell a funny story, take your best friend to a movie — and make their lives a little bit happier. If you’re reading this, you probably have the means to make someone else smile today. You just need to use that power more often.
Making and seeing people get happier because of you also bring joy and life-satisfaction to you.
Generosity is a bonus in itself.
8. Practice Positive Self-Talk
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk, which is modifying the talking head inside our head.
Self-talk can be negative or positive, but frankly, most of the time those unspoken thoughts that run in your head are negative. Like the rest of us, your inner voice is prompt at telling you that you’ve done the wrong thing. It criticizes your actions and mistakes. It points out you could have done better, and even say you’re not good enough.
But if you constantly stay tuned to that negative self-talk playing in your head, you gradually change into a person with a deeply negative mindset about yourself.
Over time, this will add up to a pile of excuses for why you’re not good enough for anything. You’ll begin to notice more and more of your mistakes, and come to think you’re no good as you ‘only make mistakes.’ In time, it will become a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Research shows even a little change in the way your self-talk can influence your ability to better control your feelings, thoughts, and behavior when in stress.
But you could turn this negative self-talk into a positive one. And even prevent it from happening.
For that, you have to give yourself permission to be human. You’ve to accept it’s okay to slip up, as every human is prone to mistakes. Then you’ve to push yourself to see the positive things you have also done.Give yourself permission to be human. Accept that it's okay to slip up sometimes like any other human. Click To Tweet
Appreciating yourself for the human you are, and for your constant efforts of improving yourself. It will help you get rid of that toxic self-berating voice in your head, make your attitude more positive.
9. Focus On The Present Moment Mindfully
Sometimes, what makes you act negatively is a memory of a bad day, a negative situation, a negative person, or a sorry mistake from your past. These force you into having negative feelings.
Soon enough, that one act traps you into a noxious loop of overthinking.
Yes, the past is important for learning from your mistakes and not repeating them. But why fill your today with only memories of failed yesterdays?
When your mind rewinds your past flaws, it acts like a hamster on a wheel – running fiercely but reaching nowhere.
Don’t ruin a new day thinking about yesterday. Yesterday is gone; why drag it back by overthinking?
At other times, it’s worrying about a future moment that gets your thoughts muddied up. But when it comes to the future, no one knows for certain what will happen tomorrow. We must live in the future to experience it, and that’s the only way to do it!
As His Holiness The Dalai Lama said,
If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.
And in all this melee, the present moment seems to have been pushed out of attention. Despite the fact, it is this present moment where reality is taking place now.
So, why not start by being aware of the present moment?
Focusing on the present makes you more mindful of your behavior and emotions in the now. You become aware if your behavior is hurting you or someone else. You get conscious if the emotions rising in your mind are trying to tell you something.
And, when you become mindfully aware of what is happening around you in this present moment, you allow yourself a fair chance to change your future behavior.
10. Do Not Engage With Negativity
Sometimes, the people around you are each a little swamp of negativity. They always tend to say and see things from a point of pessimistic and negative attitude. They maintain a rigid focus on the negative aspects of life, even those they have no control over.
For example, it’s so common to hear some of our friends always whining about the weather. Hey, just think of that now!
Watch out for them. Don’t let yourself get pulled into their little and large complaints. Their gripes are mostly about things they can’t change.
You can help them with advice, of course. But keep in mind, most of your good ideas would be counted as unsolicited advice.
Actually, they don’t want to change their status. They just want to complain about it. Even if it were within their power to change things they grumble about (not the weather, obviously), they wouldn’t want to change any of it.
Excessive complaining has been linked to decreased life-satisfaction. The habitual complainers also tend to live with a narrower range of emotions. Don’t engage with them as best as you can.
Forgive them who hurt you regularly and lighten your mind. And then, let them go from your life. Then fill the void with good people who talk and think with practical positivity. Till you find them it might help to practice positive imagery.
Open Up To Humor: Lastly, keep yourself well-humored by watching some funny movies – we highly recommend the upscaled and colored version of Charlie Chaplin’s The Champion!
What Is A Positive Thinking Mindset
Positive thinking actually means dealing with the challenges of life with a positive outlook. A positive mindset is not the same as a think-positive-no-matter-what. That kind of toxic positivity, trying to look and act happy while bottling up the negative feelings, is unrealistic and ultimately confidence-breaking.
As we know, happiness as a subject has attracted a lot of public interest in the last few years. Happiness, life-satisfaction, and well-being are studied in positive psychology, a branch of science that deals with:
- positive emotions (like hope and optimism),
- positive experiences (like wins and successes), and
- positive institutions (like good marriages and great places of work).
Positive psychology suggests exercises that can help us building a top-class positive outlook in life.
Once these exercises form into a habit, your ability to maintain a positive attitude will increase manifold. Apply these ten science-backed techniques to cultivate an A+ Positive Mindset.
6 Qualities of A Positive Mindset Person: MOGRAH
A positive person is one who carries a positive attitude, especially in hard times. A positive attitude mindset can be learned and honed by building up a repertoire of the following six qualities.
There are six key characteristics that make up a person with a positive mindset or a positive way of thinking. These can be remembered as MOGRAH:
- Mindfulness – they stay aware and mindful at the moment
- Optimism – they keep their hopes up about good outcomes
- Gratitude – they appreciate life’s goodies and are thankful
- Resilience – they are good at bouncing back after falling down
- Acceptance – they accept it is only human nature to fail
- Honesty – they are upright at all times, in public and alone
6 Quick Actions For A Positive Mindset
The 6 practical pieces of advice to become a more positive person in life are:
- Get away from negative people
- Change the negative self-talk
- Embrace your negative emotions
- Find joy in every little good thing
- Socialize most with positive people
- Create a positive environment
Larry’s 7 Tips To Stay Positive
Larry Alton’s popular 7 tips for Success will help you find more positivity in your attitude:
- Start the day with positive affirmations.
- Focus on the good things, however small they are.
- Find humor in bad situations.
- Turn failures into lessons—and learn from them!
- Transform negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
- Focus on the present instead of getting mired in the past or losing your way in the future.
- Find positive friends, mentors, and co-workers to support and encourage you.
10 Positive Mindset Books
- Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization – Scott Barry Kaufman
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol Dweck
- Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
- Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman
- Phantoms in the Brain – V. S. Ramachandran, Oliver Sacks
- The Happiness Advantage – Shawn Achor
- The Positive Shift – Catherine A. Sanderson
- The Serendipity Mindset – Christian Busch
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam Grant
An attitude of positivity is a mental and emotional outlook that aims at good future results of present events.
Beware, however, positive thinking does not imply looking away from bad or stressful situations, but viewing the bright side when into one of them.
Positive thinking means approaching the challenges of daily living with an optimistic and hopeful outlook. It means having a positive stance on your present and your future life. It means seeing yourself and your abilities in a positive light no matter whatever the number of unjust criticisms you are handed over.
Focusing your attention on things happening around you, not giving up your dreams in the face of adversities, and being grateful for the good things in your life, are three of the best activities you can do to build a strong positive mindset.
Positive thinking people accept that things always do not turn out as they want them to, because mistakes are what normal humans make. They also stay optimistic about the future as they learn from those mistakes.Positive-mindset people tend to remain honest and maintain their integrity, whether anyone is watching them or not. Click To Tweet
Shaping up a strong positive mindset can look challenging. But what could make the challenge worthwhile would be your perspective on the outcome.
If you see ‘the future you’ as the best version of yourself, you can begin your journey to a ‘brand new you’ right away.
You only have one life, so aim to live the best and happiest version of it. Put these practices into a habit and see positive changes get cultivated into your mindset.
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Authors’ Bio: Sandip Roy is a psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics. Scott Mathews is a writer for Assignment Geek where he offers help for writing research papers. He contributed parts of this post.
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