I am not one of those naturally positive people. My inclination is to see the glass half empty, the inherent risk in any given situation and to worry about, well, everything. I’ve even been known – once or twice – to have a small wave of panic surge through my body when I’m not worrying because I think I must have forgotten something about which I should be anxious.
I used to think that not being one of those positive people was an affliction that I had. I used to think I was born this way; that I was meant to be sombre and slightly gloomy. And I used to be waiting, always waiting for life to turn out how I wanted it to so that I could magically become a positive person.
After many years of hoping for a sudden burst of positivity to strike me like a gigantic, friendly thunderbolt while I was asleep at night, it was somewhat disappointing to realise that I needed to work at my positive mental attitude. So work at it I did, and still do even today.
Some days I need to work harder at my positivity than others, so I’ve put together this list of habits to use as a reminder to help me look at the bright side of life. And, let me tell you, adopting the habits of positive people is a far more enjoyable, fulfilling and satisfying way to life than being pessimistic, downbeat and in a perpetual state of worry.
7 Highly Effective Habits of Positive People
1. Be grateful
Show me a positive person and I’ll show you a person who is grateful for what they have, even if it’s rusty, broken and not quite what they expected. Writing down what you’re grateful for each day is a powerful habit to create for yourself. Get yourself a diary, and at the end of every day write down five things you’re grateful for, even if they seem small and inconsequential. Sometimes the greatest positivity comes from the most obscure places.
2. Smile a lot
(I’m chuckling to myself as a write this) I used to say that I didn’t smile much because it was just the shape of my mouth! The truth is, I didn’t use to smile much because I didn’t make the effort to turn the corners of my mouth up a few millimetres. Nowadays, especially if I’m in a social situation in which I feel slightly anxious, I remind myself to smile ever-so slightly. This does two things: first, it naturally makes you feel more positive because it’s hard to worry while you’ve got a smile on your face. Second, if you’re socially shy or awkward, smiling slightly makes you more approachable and helps ease that first communication with new people.
3. Act in spite of
This is one of my favorite techniques that we teach in our programs. People assume that positive people take great delight in doing things that the rest of us don’t want to do. Not true. Positive people do things even if they don’t feel like it. They acknowledge to themselves that they don’t want to do something, but they do it anyway. This is what we call “act in spite of”, and I suggest you try and do this at least once a week to create your habit.
4. Adopt an “I matter” mindset
You may assume that I always want to eat healthy food, cook dinner every night and jump for joy every time it’s time for the gym… and that I never get tempted to pig out on popcorn, binge on biscuits, or choose cheesecake over chia seeds. However I, too, have moments of relapse. And when I do, I remind myself of the “I matter” mindset. I simply give myself a bit of a talking to, reminding myself that I matter enough to make choices that support me and make me feel good about myself.
5. Take responsibility
One of the things I’ve learnt on this journey to having a more positive mental attitude is that positive people do not blame other people or situations, and they are not victims in their own life. They take responsibility for their own actions, and for their response to whatever life throws at them. This is a tough one, but extremely powerful.
6. Know that “this, too, shall pass”
I used to be filled with dread when I felt fed up and depressed because I feared that I’d never feel happy again. It felt like I’d slipped down a hole and I didn’t know how to find my way out. But positive people accept that life is full of good times and bad times, ups and downs, laughter and tears. When you can accept that “this, too, shall pass”, it allows you to be more present to what’s going on around you and make the most of all experiences.
7. Positive people create themselves into positive people
Last but not least, this final habit is great for anyone who – like me – thought they were tarred with the negativity brush at birth. You may have to work at being positive, but most positive people I know have had to do the same. Being positive is a habit, not a genetic mutation. Practice these habits with the determination of a positive person and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to join the ranks of other positive people.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Do you have any further habits to add? Please leave a comment for us below!