It’s easy to decide to be a more positive person, but truth be told, a positive attitude can be hard to come by, especially if you don’t have any strategies in place to help. To find out what steps we can take to become more positive in general, we consulted with experts to get the 411 on positive outlooks. They didn’t disappoint.
Exercise is not only good for the body, but it’s great for your mood too and can brighten your outlook on life. Psychiatrist Dr. Gayatri Saraf recommends that you engage in some sort of physical exercise daily, such as running, Zumba, strength training or yoga.
“Exercise releases endogenous opioids, which are our ‘feel-good’ chemicals and has also been found to be effective in treating mild to moderate depression,” she says. Sounds good!
Make a list
One the simplest ways to tackle the stresses of an ordinary (or not-so-ordinary) day is to make a list of the things you’re grateful for. Whether it’s on your phone or an actual piece of paper. Andi Wrenn, financial counselor and relationship coach, says that her clients often benefit greatly from a list.
“With most clients, I have them start with three items per day,” she explains. “After the first week, we moved to five. And eventually work up to 10 things they’re thankful for or are positive about.”
Self-doubt is one of those things that can sneak up on you and wreck your day. Robyn Tingley, author of 10 Essentials for the Motivated Millennial, says that it’s way easier to derail self-doubt before it sets in.
“When you quiet your inner critic, you’ll feel better, project more confidence and attract other positive people into your life,” she says. Learn to recognize self-doubt before it starts to creep up on you, and while it can be difficult to learn new habits, you’ll eventually learn to replace negative thoughts with positive statements.
Focus on what went well
Often, negative thoughts can be all-consuming (as anyone who has had trouble sleeping because they can’t stop replaying how terrible their day was can tell you). Instead of replaying scenes or situations where things did not go as planned, focus your thoughts and energy on the things that went well recommends psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig.
Retrain your brain
Koenig also recommends that you retrain the way you think about your life and your own goals, even down to the seemingly mundane daily tasks like grocery shopping and going to work. Instead of telling yourself what not to do, tell yourself what to do instead. For instance, if you want to remember to make eye contact when meeting someone new, say to yourself, “Maintain eye contact” instead of “Don’t look away.”
She notes, “Putting thoughts in the negative only reminds them of what they don’t want to do.”
Give yourself me-time
Yes, we’re all familiar with me-time, and it can be hard to actually commit to doing it — especially if your day is completely overworked and overwhelming. However, Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent and co-star on Sex Box on We TV, says me-time doesn’t mean huge chunks of time, and it can be vital to maintaining a positive outlook.
“Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to be with yourself and chill,” she says. This short amount of time that’s just for you will help nourish and fortify your spirit.
If you’ve suffered trauma or loss, it can sometimes feel difficult to work through that emotional pain and heartache to the point of maintaining a positive outlook on life. Anne-Marie Lockmyer is a certified grief recovery method specialist, and she suggests that those in this situation use their experiences to help others who might be going through something difficult in their life.
“Taking a traumatic or difficult experience and deciding to use it for good, since one has to go through it anyway, is one of the most positive choices a person can make,” she explains.
While there is no one-size-fits-all advice that works for everyone all the time, keeping these tips in mind can greatly improve your outlook on life and can be the start of being a more positive person.