Life can be tough at times. But by staying positive, we give ourselves the energy and strength to get through difficult periods – and we’re more likely to make good choices and take action towards our goals.

If you often feel unhappy and negative, here are seven ways to turn things around:

#1: Find the Silver Lining

When things go wrong, don’t start complaining (internally or to other people). Look for the silver lining. For instance:

  • Your train delay gives you an extra half-hour to read your book
  • That mistake at work highlighted a systematic problem that could have become much worse if it’d gone unnoticed for longer
  • You messed up a new recipe – but at least you know how to do it right next time (and you tried something new for the first time in ages)
  • The file you lost has reminded you that you really need to prioritize tidying your office, before anything mission-critical goes missing
  • Although one of your customers had a complaint, you were able to resolve it – and they now seem even happier to continue doing business with your company

#2: Avoid Negative People

One big source of negativity in our lives is other people. If colleagues constantly moan about their work, the management, the office building, their commutes, then it’s all too easy for you to get sucked into negative thinking too. If friends spend their time gossiping about one another or making fun of total strangers, you’re going to get drawn into that sort of behavior.

As much as possible, avoid negative people. Seek out friends who make you feel good about the world, not those who drag you down. Don’t join in with the office moaning. If you’re stuck with someone negative (perhaps a relative or a member of your team at work) then make an extra effort to be positive when you’re with them.

#3: Tackle Problems Proactively

When something’s making you feel grouchy, angry, or unhappy, what do you do about it? Many people simply ignore the problem. They might wish it would just go away – or they might be resigned to living with it.

Some problems are difficult to tackle. Many, though, can be improved or even solved completely if you get proactive. For instance:

  • If the state of your house is getting you down, block out a weekend to spring-clean
  • If you’re anxious about your finances, look for ways to cut down your spending
  • If you hate being overweight and unfit, join a diet group or a gym

You might not be able to solve your problem overnight … but by simply taking action, you’re putting yourself back in control, and that’s bound to make you feel more positive.

#4: Set Small, Achievable Goals

If you’ve got a bunch of huge goals, it’s easy to feel a bit down about life – your dreams might seem a very long way off, and you may not always have the motivation to work towards them. And on the flip side, if you never set yourself any goals to work towards, life can seem a bit empty. It might feel like you never really achieve anything.

By setting yourself small, achievable goals, you’ll start to see real progress in your life. You can look back over the past few weeks and see what you’ve accomplished – and you can look forward to what’s coming up in the next month or two.

#5: Do Something Kind

One simple way to feel more positive is to do something good for someone else. That might mean going the extra mile to help out a client, being there for a friend who needs you, lending a hand to an elderly neighbor, taking care of some of the chores that your busy spouse normally handles, writing a “thank you” note to someone who’s helped you out … anything that involves a little extra kindness.

If you’ve been stuck in a negative mood for a while, you might find it tough to summon up the energy or motivation to do this – and you may even question whether it’s worth doing at all. Trust me, even a small kind gesture can make you feel much better about things (and it could mean a huge amount to the other person too).

#6: Write Your Own Affirmations

Do you have a lot of negative thoughts going round in your head? If you’re struggling against a critical inner voice – one that says “you’re not good enough” or “you’ll never achieve anything” – then you need to replace that tape with something new.

Affirmations are a great way to do this. You can find plenty online, but you might prefer to write your own: that way, you’ll be able to fit your affirmation to your own goals and dreams. Use the present tense for your affirmation (e.g. “I am happy” or “I have lots of energy”) or emphasize a sense of progress (“I am getting healthier and slimmer every day”).

#7: Focus on What’s Already Good

It’s easy to focus on the negatives in life, whether that’s a tedious job, a problem at home, or a failed exam. You might worry that you need to fix all these things in order to feel good about yourself. Instead, spend some time thinking about everything that’s already good. Look for ways to build on the good things.

That might be:

  • You have a strong relationship with your spouse, and you want to have more regular date nights.
  • There are some aspects of your job that you really enjoy, and you want to spend more time on those.
  • You like cooking in the evenings, and you want to try out some new recipes.
  • You always feel great after a gym session, so you want to go more often.

Make as much time and space for the good things in your life as you can, and you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier to be positive.

How do you stay positive? Do some of the above tips work for you, or do you have your own suggestions to add? Let us know in the comments!

Photo by pedrosimoes7

Ali Luke

Ali writes about personal growth and development on her blog, Aliventures. As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.

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