At times, the world seems full of negative people and negativity. But if you look around with an open mind, you’ll quickly notice it’s just as full of positive people and positivity. Which of these inclinations you choose to follow – negative or positive – is likely to have profound and continuing effects on you, your state of mind, and your career trajectory.
This means that – if you want to – you can almost certainly find compelling reasons for satisfaction, joy, and optimism in your life, pretty much regardless of your specific circumstances. The secret is not just to get enough sleep, but more importantly to increase your focus on what’s working well for you, and avoid dwelling on what’s not.
Here are some practical methods to help you cultivate a more positive outlook in your daily life:
Focus on Your Strengths
Everybody exhibits a combination of strengths and weaknesses. That’s just a fact. But what you do with that fact is a matter of choice.
To begin cultivating a more positive outlook, work to promote the habit of focusing on your strengths much more often than you focus on your weaknesses.
One good method is to itemize your strengths and then review this list at frequent intervals. The old adage about “counting your blessings” reflects this idea. And it works.
As a practical matter, every day produces evidence of what we can do well, from solving simple problems to conceptualizing something new and wonderful – and everything in between. You can cultivate a more positive attitude by making time to keep track of the positive actions and events in your daily life – from the smallest to the largest, and by thinking carefully about the strengths you brought to bear that helped you in each of these actions and events.
Conversely, get out of the habit of wasting time recounting your failures or missed opportunities. As a rule, try to put these events behind you and move forward in search of a more positive attitude.
Commit to Growth
Because the world is constantly changing, you must either work hard to keep up or you will fall behind. This makes personal and professional growth a never-ending requirement.
Fortunately, growing (and planning to grow) naturally leads to hope for the future and to a healthy anticipation of better days ahead.
One source of growth is simply this: positive action. Going fishing, enjoying a hobby, taking pleasure in a particular experience – a book, a film, a meal, a walk, or whatever – can help you feel smarter, stronger, more capable, and more positive.
New growth can also come from “self-help” efforts you plan and execute on your own, as well as from externals like education, training, and “apprenticeships” or “internships” that allow you simply to spend time with experts and absorb some of what they know.
Sometimes, it’s helpful just to introspect, asking yourself questions like:
- What’s most important to me, now and for the future?
- Where do I see myself in five or ten years?
- What is my next course of action, particularly when there are no clear choices or opportunities immediately facing me?
Engage with Others
Hard-wired as we are to be social animals, the simple act of engaging with others feels good, and it nurtures a more positive attitude. Just being open when meeting someone new can elevate your attitude.
But don’t be indiscriminate here: it’s detrimental to hang out with hardboiled negatives and helpful to engage more often with positive, upbeat people. This is because others’ attitudes tend to rub off on you.
Not surprisingly, feeling and showing your own positivity will tend to rub off on others. The result will be a mutual “positivity” circle that will help you feel better and better about your work and your life.
Another way to cultivate a more positive attitude is to help other people “less fortunate” than yourself. There is something about the act of giving that makes both the giver and the receiver feel good, and this good feeling automatically contributes to establishing a more positive attitude.
Engaging with others also gives you a chance to cultivate a more positive attitude through gratitude for what you have, who you are, and where you have been in this life. Sometimes we lose sight of these positive elements, but they are likely to become clearly highlighted through engagement with others.
Cultivating a positive attitude pays off in many ways, not least because it colors everything we think and feel, all of our relationships, and every situation we encounter.
As you will find – or as you may already know – the difference between a negative and a positive attitude is about the same as the difference between a slap in the face and a kiss.