How to Be Positive in a Negative World

We’ve all received the well-meaning yet horrible advice to “stay positive” during a hard or stressful time. We all know it’s not that simple. Trying to convince yourself to have that glass-half-full type of perspective isn’t something you can do overnight. It’s hard to focus on positive thinking when it seems so far from reality.

A positive mindset requires attention and focus. Sometimes it’s hard to turn a bad situation into a good one—but the good news is that no matter how bad things may seem, there is always a light. Finding the light in every situation will give you a happier and longer life. No matter what it is that may have you in a negative mindset, try utilizing these five tips to help yourself shine.

1. See a smile, give a smile

While walking down the street, try smiling at people. It will not only boost your mood, but it’ll also boost theirs. Smiling at strangers is a simple gesture. It’s a small exercise that emphasizes compassion. Spreading positive energy can also enhance your own!

2. Living in the moment

In so many scenarios, I’ve seen people stress and suffer over things that happened in the past. Or in other situations, I've seen people become anxious about the future. There are so many more experiences ahead of you that you have yet to endure, and the mystery of what the future holds is a part of the beauty in life. Close that book in the past, let go of things you can't control like the future and focus on the present.

3. Find a release

Finding a hobby or activity that you enjoy can help relieve stress, which will help your mindset stay clear and positive. This can be anything! Exercise is one of the best releases because it increases serotonin which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite. Exercise isn’t the only type of release so don’t fret if you absolutely hate the gym! There are other things you can do, such as listen to music, hang out with friends, go to the movies or anything that you enjoy doing in your free time that helps relax you.

4. Weigh the options

No matter what you’re stressing about, your brain automatically shifts into one gear: worst case scenario. But the fortunate truth is that even in a worst-case scenario, the world will continue to spin, time will pass and you will be okay.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is to weigh my two extremes: worst-case scenario and best-case scenario. This tactic has really calmed me because I realized in a lot of my situations that even if my absolute worst-case scenario happened, I’d still be okay. I mean yeah, it wouldn't be ideal, but it’s not the end of the world. Realizing and coming to terms with this will help you stress less and have a more positive mindset.

5. Breathe

This seems like a silly one, but you’d be surprised at how many of us don’t give breathing a second thought because it happens automatically. Breathing has the power to regulate our mind and emotion—that's why you hear so many people say, “take a deep breath” when things are stressful. Our breath works in different patterns aligned with the emotions we feel. For example, we tend to breathe shorter and faster when we are anxious or stressed, but take longer and slower breaths when happy and content. Training yourself to breathe through stressful times can be very impactful on your mindset and body.

Every day is a second chance, a fresh start.

Remember, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.

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