A positive mindset is crucial for achieving happiness and wellbeing in life. But how do you create a positive attitude that stands strong in all weathers?
Happiness is a subject that has attracted public interest in the last few years more than ever. Happiness is a subject of study in positive psychology, a branch of psychology that studies positive emotions, positive experiences, and positive institutions.
Positive psychology says a positive mindset is a key characteristic of happy people.
What Is Meant By “Positive Mindset”
Here is what we mean by a positive thinking mindset:
Positive mindset is an attitude of focusing on the bright side of life, hoping for good outcomes, and keeping a positive approach — in good and bad times. It means keeping an optimistic attitude and making positive thinking a habit. It is a mental and emotional outlook aiming at the best results.
Beware however, positive thinking does not imply looking away from the bad or stressful situations, but viewing the bright side when into one of them.
Positive thinking means approaching the challenges of daily living with a positive 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.
Qualities of A Positive Mindset
There are six key traits that make up the positive mindset or the positive way of thinking. These can be remembered as MOGRAH:
- Mindfulness – staying aware in the moment
- Optimism – keeping hopes about good results
- Gratitude – appreciating life
- Resilience – bouncing back after falls
- Acceptance – accepting human nature to fail
- Honesty – being upright at all times
10 Simple Exercises To Build And Maintain A Positive Mindset
All the above is great to know, but how can you practically harness the power of a positive thinking mindset? How can you cultivate a strong positive mindset and have a more optimistic outlook in life?
Science suggests certain exercises to cultivate a top-class positive thinking mindset. Once you put these practices into regular habit, you would find your ability to maintain a positive attitude increase.
Here are 10 positivity-enhancing exercises and techniques to build and maintain a positive mindset:
- Start A Gratitude Journal
- Rise Above The Win-Loss Paradigm
- Invite Positive Words Into Your Vocab
- Feel Grateful For Your Chances
- Pay Attention To Your Breath
- Focus On The Process
- Show A Little More Generosity
- Practice Positive Self-Talk
- Focus On The Present Moment
- Do Not Engage With Negativity
However, you must be aware being positive does not mean you keep a smile on every hour of your day, or try to stay cheerful every minute of your life.
Having a positive attitude actually means you can focus on the positive things in life while also staying attentive to negative things. It is, most importantly, about your positive-focused attitude in times of distress.
1. Start A Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is a key ingredient for building a positive mindset. Being in gratitude means appreciating the good things in your life, and being grateful for them.
To nurture an attitude of gratitude, start a journal. Take a notebook and write down 3 things that happened today for which you were grateful. It’s called the Three Good Things happiness exercise. Read the shortest guide on it here.
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.
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 helps improve relationships, increase happiness levels, protect you from stress and negativity, and makes you an overall better person.
2. Rise Above The Win-Loss Paradigm
You always have goals to reach out for. And always, some of these will fail to stay within your total control. Now, we all know our fulfilled goals bring us joy, and 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. You see them as windows of learning. Once you sign up for this failure-driven learning slot, you raise your game above the win-loss paradigm.Once you sign up for this failure-driven learning slot, you raise your game above the win-loss paradigm. Click To Tweet
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. As game designer Jane McGonigal writes in her book Reality Is Broken,
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, and see your failures as opportunities to learn and improve. See them as your chance to try again harder.
Do not define your efforts and processes in terms of winning-losing. Instead, tell yourself either you win or you learn.
Here’s Dr. Alia Crum, professor and psychologist, whose research focuses on how a change in mindset can change one’s reality through behavioral, psychological, and physiological mechanisms, talking at TEDx.
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’re dead wrong. The words you use day-in and day-out to describe your life make you accordingly a negative or positive mindset person.
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 pattern of this.
Soon enough, you’ll start to see your other life experiences too as insipid, chaotic, and bad.
But if you force yourself to see the joyful parts of your hiking trip, and recount your experience as lively and relaxing, your brain will begin to wire up for a new pattern of positive thinking.
Using positive words to describe your life while trying to see the good things in most situations can help you reinforce your positive thinking mindset. Fill your vocabulary with positive words, and your life fills up with positivity.
4. Feel Grateful For Your Chances
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 go out for work. You have to go shopping to buy food and clothes. You have to pay 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 you insurance, so why not feel grateful about 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 chances, they feel permissive and carry a sense of gratitude.
And so, by changing the way you see these everyday things, you take a step forward to place up your positive mindset.
Begin to savor the things you get the chance to do, and feel grateful for the good things already there in your life. Stop taking life, and everything good about it, for granted.
Look up and say thanks for the many chances of bliss you’ve had today.
5. Pay Attention To Your Breath
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.
Getting to a calm and positive mindset via deep belly breathing 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 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.
7. Show A Little More Generosity
The society today actively promotes egoism and self-centeredness, 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 puts 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 brings joy and life-satisfaction to you. Generosity is a bonus in itself.
8. Practice Positive Self-Talk
Like everyone of us, you too have an inner voice that promptly tells you you’ve done a wrong thing. It criticizes your actions and mistakes. It says you could have done better, or 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.
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, will make your attitude more positive.
9. Focus On The Present Moment
Sometimes, what makes you act negatively is a bad memory, a negative event, or a sorry mistake from your past.
Soon enough, that one act traps you into a 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 future, no one knows for certain what will happen tomorrow. We must live 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 mindful 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 pessimism. 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.
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 strongly 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
Cultivating a positive mindset increases your life-satisfaction. You also notice a better ability to cope with stress.
A positive attitude can also improve your health and increase your life expectancy.
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.
Just today on, you could start to see your failures as opportunities to learn and use those to find new solutions. And this moment on, you could start to use more positive words to talk about your life and experiences with others, and even to yourself.
You only have one life, so aim to live the best and happiest version of it. Put these practices into habit and watch positive things happen to your mindset.[Do you know how the longest-living Japanese stay happy until almost their last days? And no, it’s not because of some spiritual practice.]
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Authors’ Bio: Scott Mathews is a writer for Assignment Geek, and he offers research paper help. He loves traveling and discovering new cultures. He recently discovered the field of positive thinking during his travels around Asia. Sandip Roy is 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.
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