It’s difficult to be positive sometimes, especially these days. Every day there seems to be a new virus spreading, another tragedy, and people generally just being cruel to one another. Staying positive is tough these days. You just have to learn to set yourself up with healthy habits, and eventually, it will start to come naturally.
I know that sometimes it feels like we’ve fallen into a hole that we can’t seem to drag ourselves out of. I’ve been there – perpetual overthinking, extreme anxiety, severe insomnia, depression – the works. When you’re in that place, it can feel like getting out of it is next to impossible. I’m here to tell you that is it possible because I did it at my lowest point. You just have to be willing to put in some effort and think about it, anything beats feeling like shit all the time.
Want to train yourself to think more positively? Here are 15 habits that can help you do just that:
Reading has always been part of my life since I learned how and it’s one of those habits that not only boost positive thinking but is also entertaining and you can even learn some pretty great things! Perpetual reading allows you to continue to learn and grow and as I always say, self-improvement is a lifelong ordeal. We can always be better!
If you are feeling particularly down and need something to help you push forward, there are some really amazing motivational books out there. Here are some recommendations for motivational books that won’t make you cringe:
Unf*ck Yourself by John Gary Bishop gives a no-bullshit approach to stop overthinking and giving negative self-talk the finger. It’s pretty great and it may be able to give you that extra something that you need to start cultivating a more positive mindset.
Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu was SUPER helpful for me when my to-do list became this overwhelming feat that seemed completely impossible and even felt pointless to give a try. She helped me not take myself so damn seriously while also focusing on self-care and having compassion for number 1 – yourself.
Your Mental Mess by Dr. Caroline Leaf is phenomenal. If you’re seeking scientifically-backed ways to reduce stress and anxiety and curb any toxic thinking, this book can get you there in just 21 days. It’s a hell of a read that takes a no-nonsense or emotional overload approach that absolutely can give you that boost you need to get out of your funk.
While motivational books are great, they may not be your style and I get it. Most of them aren’t my cup of tea either. The point is that reading is a fabulous habit, whether you love to listen to audiobooks on your commute or while doing chores, reading by night light, or curling up with your kindle, there is a world of options out there. Read as much as you can, as often as you can.
2. Set Goals with a Reward System in Place
My husband and I quit smoking this year cold turkey and honestly, it wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. I was ready to be done with those nasty cancer sticks. It was a goal that we completed together and we had in mind “rewards” for each of us. Having the thought of the rewards in place was really helpful. Even small rewards like a new outfit or a dinner out can be fantastic for small goals.
The whole idea is to build a habit of setting goals for yourself, (stopping a bad habit, losing weight, hitting a career milestone, etc.), and ensuring that you’ll complete those goals by having a reward system in place.
3. Gratitude Journaling
I know, I know, you’re f*cking bored to death of hearing about this one but there is data that shows this to be true! You can’t argue with the numbers. Even if you can only spare a couple of minutes per day, it is certainly worth it to improve your mental health and boost positive thinking!
Just try it for a week. Each night before bed, write down 3-5 things that you were grateful for that day. See if this simple habit doesn’t help change your perspective.
Once again, I know, everyone and their brother says this when it comes to improving mental health and positive thinking but there’s a reason for that. You guessed it – research proves exercising does improve mental health and therefore aids in positive thinking!
There are also TONS of different exercises you can try:
- Hit the Gym
- Investing in Home Gym equipment like this space-friendly treadmill.
- Free weights, like these ones.
- Take a walk
- Hell, dancing around your living room counts
- And so much more
Look, I understand that exercise can be daunting to get started. You want to push it off until tomorrow, next week, whatever. Start today. Take those baby steps and before you know it, you’ll be feeling fantastic in no time!
5. Get Outside
Spending even just 10 or 15 minutes outside per day, or 2 hours per week, can increase a person’s overall feeling of well-being. So, take that walk, sit on your porch, or better yet, put those bare feet right on the grass. It’ll help. Seriously, give it a try. What do you have to lose?
6. Plan “Date Nights”
No, you do not have to be in a relationship to have a “date night.” Date night can look like a night out with your significant other, of course, but it could also be taking yourself out for dinner and a movie, going out with friends, or even spending time alone at your own house doing your own thing. The point is to make time to plan for something “special.” Try a new restaurant, get dressed up, (or dressed down), take that trip to the spa, take a fun art class – do something out of the norm!
This habit is sure to give you something to look forward to if you’re feeling stuck and doing this often, (once or twice a month or once a week, if you can), will help you think more positively!
7. Self Care
This brings me to one of the most important habits that will help you be more positive. Nobody can be positive when they aren’t taking care of themselves.
Some simply self-care activities include:
- Take a long bubble bath
- Do a face mask
- Cook your favorite meal
- Cuddle with a pet
- Give yourself a mani and pedi
The idea is to make time for YOU. Never ever forget to take care of yourself.
8. Spend Time With Positive People
This habit is paramount to happiness. Do you know the saying “misery loves company”? It’s more true than you may realize. Being around people who constantly complain or are toxic will do little for your mental health. If anything, it makes it worse. Who can hope to be happy when they’re surrounded by people who constantly gossip and focus on negativity?
Instead, surround yourself with happy people! People who talk positively about others and those who want to see you happy are the best people.
This is another one that I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again but that’s because it’s true. Spending time meditating has a direct connection to happiness. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out these YouTube videos:
If neither of thoese works for you, there are tons of other options.
10. Help Someone Else Out
Helping others can give us a sense of pride and therefore boost our well-being which leads to a more positive way of thinking. Think of volunteering at an animal shelter, donating to those less fortunate or simply paying for the person behind you at the drive-through! However you want to help someone else out, try it.
Most of us have things about us that we want to “heal.” I believe that is possible through journaling. A lot of the time, when it comes to negative thinking, it has to do with the past and anxiety about the future. Get that shit out on paper. Write about how you’re feeling and how you would like to be feeling. Jot down notes on qualities you see in others that you would like to see in yourself more.
Journaling is a great habit even if you feel totally fine. It’s a healthy way to release emotions without guilt or shame. There are tons of journal prompts available on Pinterest and the internet in general.
12. Give Affirmations a Try
I get it, it sounds weird at first but hear me out. Starting your day with a positive affirmation can give the day a positive boost. Write them on post-it notes and stick them to your bathroom mirror or keep notes in your phones with ones that speak to you. All you have to do is say the words out loud.
Here are some great positive affirmations to try:
- “Today is going to be awesome. I’m going to avoid all negativity today and focus only on the positive.”
- “Today, I’m going to get my happy on.”
- “Nobody will dull my shine.”
- “Nothing will f*ck with my vibes today.”
- “Good things are coming my way.”
Anyways, there are lots out there. Try it for a week and see if you don’t feel happier.
13. Teach Yourself To Laugh at Negative Situations
This may sound wildly difficult but it can be done. Have you ever seen those people who burst into laughter when something negative happens? They’re actually probably really positive and happy people. They’ve learned to laugh and not take it all so seriously.
I started with irony to help myself achieve this. When something is really ironic, (think Alanis Morsette), in a not-so-great way, instead of reacting with anger, frustration or sadness, laugh. Do it once and seriously, it becomes SO easy! It’s one of those habits you might have to work on for a while but it is so worth it in the long run.
14. Listen to Music More
Music can do so much for us. I have a playlist for pretty much every occasion. Seriously, I do. Listening to music actually triggers the release of dopamine, the happy neurochemical! Yes, there is also science to this.
Buy yourself some airpods and start listening as often as you can. There’s also evidence that listening to music can even make you more productive.
15. Share Your Positive Thoughts With Others
All of our thoughts don’t have to be confined to the pages of a private journal. When trying to boost positive thinking, it’s important to share the wealth, so to speak. Give those compliments – even to strangers! Share positive aspects of your day with loved ones. See something cool, let people know!
One thing that is super important about cultivating a more positive way of thinking is to be open about your positivity, even if it’s new and you’re just experiencing this fabulous way of thought.
You Can Form Habits to Boost Positive Thinking, Start Today
Even when you feel terrible mentally and don’t think you can ever be positive or feel better, you can! There’s nothing wrong with taking baby steps at first either. You just have to start taking steps.
Is there anything you guys do to be more positive? Let me know in the comments!