If you are a self-described “realist”, maintaining a positive mindset might not be something that comes naturally or easily for you. Nevertheless, life is short and it’s a lot more fun to cultivate a positive mindset than a negative one.
But having a positive mindset isn’t something that you can just “turn on”. If only it was that simple. After all, challenges and obstacles happen – it’s what we do with the setbacks that define our lives moving forward.
Developing a more ‘positive minded’ approach to life can reduce stress, increase overall levels of happiness, and make living all-around a more enjoyable experience.
In this article, we’ll look at expert opinions, perspectives, and philosophies to gain a deeper understanding for the underlying mechanisms and psychology behind cultivating a positive mindset.
Let’s Dive In.
What Does A Positive Mindset Even Look Like ?
According to the team of experts at PositivePsychology.com, having a positive mindset is an “ emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results.”
Perspective is everything. There’s always a negative side to look at if you choose. But looking ‘only at the negative side’ IS a choice. There are a lot of negativities in the world. That’s just the way it is.
One could spend their whole life only focused on the negatives. Or, one could choose to be aware of the negatives (or potential negatives) but choose to look on the positive side. Awareness is key, and acceptance of possible negative outcomes is key, but maintaining optimism despite negativity can take some practice.
When it comes to cultivating a positive mindset, here are a few characteristics commonly shared by positive-minded people.
Six Characteristics of Positive Minded People:
5. Consciousness / Mindfulness
Nine Tips To Help Keep Your Mindset Generally More Positive
1. First, Notice Your Thoughts
To have any chance at keeping a more positive mindset Very-Well-Mind expert, Dr. Carly Snyder, knows first-hand that the first step to cultivating a positive mindset is developing an awareness of your thought pattern. This is a process of A) Identifying negative thinking and B) Focusing on positive thinking.
2. Reframe Your Situation
Reframing your situation is a psychological ‘hack’ that gives your brain an alternative perspective on your current view of reality. Harvard University Professor of Psychology
Dr. Katie A. McLaughlin teaches this technique for stress management.
Dr. McLaughlin uses the example of a break-up. after a break-up you could “reframe” by thinking about the opportunities to meet new people, the things you learned from the relationship, and the gratitude you feel for the time you spent with the person.”
3. Practice Positive Self-Talk (Affirmations)
Affirmations can feel strange at first (even uncomfortable) but the science behind positive self-affirmations is all too real.
According to a 2016 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, affirmations can hack your brain’s bias’s. Experts discovered that by repeating affirmations you can teach your brain new ways to think about the world.
If you repeat phrases to convince your brain of something positive, then your brain starts to subconsciously search for signs of validation.
4. Practice Gratitude
How often do you take time out of your day to think about what is it in your life ‘right now’ that you’re grateful for? No matter where you are, someone, somewhere, has it much worse than you. There’s always something to be grateful for.
Psychology research from Harvard Medical states plainly that “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”
Gratitude helps people experience more positive emotions, savor good experiences, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships.
5. Spend More Time With Positive People (and less with negative)
There’s an old saying that “if 5 of your friends are millionaires, then you’ll be the 6th. But if 5 of your friends are negative-minded complainers, then you’ll be the 6th.
Entrepreneur, life coach, and business coach Tony Robbins is famously quoted saying,
6. Avoid Spreading Gossip
Gossip by itself isn’t all ‘bad vibes’, but being “overly gossipy” can be destructive to your mindset.
From the perspective of the University of California’s Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dr. Megan Robbins, a ‘bad gossiper’ is defined as someone who shares information about others in order to get ahead or to get an advantage for themselves. Or, someone’s who is just plain reckless with information.
If you’re someone who tends to gossip, try taking a moment to reflect on why you’re gossiping. Often gossip is rooted in envy, jealousy, or narcissism.
7. Start Every Morning Strong
Ex-Navy Seal, and current world record holder David Goggin’s, looks at every day as a small battle that he’s going to win. And that starts by winning the mental game in the morning.
Set yourself up for success. Try to heed Goggin’s own words…
Do you have a strong morning routine?
David Goggin’s says get one to maintain a more positive mindset.
Give yourself time in the morning. Go to bed at a time that gives you enough healthy sleep. If you’re a coffee drinker like me, get your coffee ready, shower, make your bed, everything that you know you must do to get a strong start. From there the momentum can build.
Often people who experience a ‘rough morning’ will tell you that it didn’t stop there. As David Goggin’s would say, win the battle in the morning and you’ll win the battle of the day.
8. Clean House – Clean Mind
Perhaps you might dread house cleaning day, but you might also always feel inspired, relaxed, and positive-minded after a good clean.
In the experience of Psychologist Dr. Rachel Goldman, decluttering your home can be just as beneficial to your mental health as yoga and mindfulness.
2010 study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that those with cluttered homes expressed higher levels of both depression, and the stress hormone cortisol.
You can also take minimalizing and de-cluttering a step further with the ancient decor principles of feng-shui. By surrounding yourself with positive cues, and mood-boosting psychological tricks you can hack your internal mindset from the outside in.
9. Contribute / Help / Volunteer
According to Yale Psychology Professor Dr. Laurie Santos “People who do more volunteer work tend to be happier than those that don’t. This is a universal phenomenon across most cultures, to improve people’s happiness,”
There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that goes –
Final Thoughts on Cultivating a Positive Mindset
Cultivating an overall more positive mindset isn’t a ‘one-trick-pony’. Developing a more positive outlook on life takes a shift is perspective. But it’s a shift that (as long as it increases your overall level of happiness) is well worth the effort.
As a “realist”, I’ve learned to accept negative possibilities as just that (possibilities), but ultimately, I try to maintain an effort to find the positive perspective.
When I reflect back, by limiting myself to viewing the negative perspective in most situations, I was only allowing myself to experience negative feelings. And as humans, we all need to feel negative emotions sometimes, but life is definitely more fun when authentic positive emotions become the focus.