It’s easy to see the good on sunny days, but it’s crucial to our happiness that we be willing to search for the good on darker days. This isn’t just about how to stay positive when life is throwing us a big challenge, though; it’s about staying positive in the smaller moments of our lives, those tiny glimpses of time that often go unnoticed and are mistaken as trivial.
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” – Zig Ziglar
If you’ve ever wondered how to stay positive on even the dreariest days, you’re not alone. I’ve contemplated optimism and hope on so many occasions, when life is good and when life is dreary. I believe the key to staying positive–no matter what–is to practice creating something positive within ourselves and within the world, and not merely wait for something good to happen to us.
Today is the day you can start a positive chain reaction in your world, self-generating an upward spiral of positive emotions that will lift you higher and shift your world to brighter hues of possibility. Begin by shifting the internal dialogue you participate in: Let your thoughts and self-talk radiate from a deeper place of light inside of you; cultivate that space and let it shine out into the world around you today.
If you’re struggling with how to stay positive in the face of, well, anything, here are a few ideas to help you shift into a new way of thinking.
How to Stay Positive: 7 Ways to Brighten Every Day
1. Surround yourself with positive influences.
Planting ourselves in the best possible surroundings is a really important step in motivating ourselves each day to achieve whatever makes our hearts beat. So, check in with your current surroundings. Honestly assess the people in your life, and how their energetic presence and attitudes are affecting your internal state.
Who or what saps your energy? Who, or what activity, inspires you to dream, learn, and grow? Who makes it harder or easier for you to smile and laugh? Who is a true joy to be around? Pursue closer relationships with those who have a positive impact on your mood. Choose uplifting or relaxing music that makes you feel good. Go outside. Read enlightening books. Do more of what you love.
2. Spread the joy.
In Edith Wharton’s words: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” Each time you choose to do something nice for someone else, you bring meaning and love to both of your lives. You can add value to life by listening to others, smiling at them, being more compassionate, easing judgmental tendencies, offering a compliment, or sharing a positive story.
Doing good deeds and speaking kind words is like throwing a positive boomerang into the world; it’s bound to come back to you, and don’t underestimate its ability to return with greater power.
3. Set positive intentions for the day.
Start your day with a happy intention, a positive affirmation, an encouraging mantra. This subtle forward momentum can ultimately lend you a good day–repeated, a good life. It’s about asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done; and it’s about believing in the positive possibilities instead of fixating on what you don’t want.
4. Nurture your body.
The mind and body share a deep connection, deeper than the mind or the body. This means that taking care of your body is a great way to support a positive mental landscape; showing yourself respect and love in any way fuels positive growth.
Practice good posture to encourage a more positive perspective. Nourish your body with healthy food, stay hydrated, and cherish a good night’s sleep. Practice activities that you love, that feed your creativity, energize your spirit, and get you excited to do it again in the future. And definitely find ways to make joyful movement (i.e. endorphins) part of your daily life.
5. Become mindful.
We can better establish a clear connection between mind, body, and soul by living fully in the present moment. Replaying past “failures” or worrying about tomorrow’s uncertainties takes us away from the possibility in and of the present moment. Staying positive requires us to stay in this moment, because it’s only here and now that we can self-generate positivity.
If you even slow down, close your eyes, and breathe a few deep breaths, it’s amazing how vibrant this moment in time and space can feel. There’s no other moment that’s going to be exactly like this one. Meditate on the unique qualities of right here, right now. You’ll never be in the same spot with the same story again, and there’s a lot of power in recognizing that.
The way to stay positive is to return, again and again, to the undying love and unending peace that dwells in the silence between two deep breaths.
6. Express gratitude.
Gratitude shifts our focus from the burdens to the blessings in our lives. Cultivating and expressing gratitude is a powerful key that opens the gates of lasting happiness. You can affirm to be grateful for something today, or practice savoring a sweet moment that you don’t want to soon forget. Show appreciation for someone by actually thanking them–preferably in person, but any method will do.
7. Search for a lesson.
There is a blessing in every challenge, and a dawn after every dusk. Perceiving our experiences as opportunities to grow, and teachers in our development, is a spiritual practice that allows us to discover gifts in any given situation. And, yes, I believe that sometimes we need to feel a negative emotion fully before we can hunt for the treasure in a pile of rubble.
Staying positive does not mean avoiding feelings of sadness, anger, impatience, or overwhelm. Being optimistic is not unrealistic, and it’s not about running away from experiences that are uncomfortable. It’s actually about experiencing them deeply so we can discover this truth: We are not our emotions, and we can listen to what they’re telling us. And then, yes, we can rise above them ever so gently and find meaning in our experience, however tragic it might feel.
- Do you have any thoughts about how to stay positive when life is hard, or mundane?
- Are there any positivity practices that help you live and love better?
- How do you stay motivated?
- How do you cultivate joy, gratitude, and presence in your own life?
Please share your positive experiences, practices, insights, and lessons with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who could use some inspiration today.