How To Be Positive: 4 Steps To A More Optimistic Attitude

4 Ways to Get Through the Unwanted Tasks in Your Life with a Positive Attitude

By Kacey Bradley

While many of us lament that the media focuses too much on negative stories when the evening news, our online news feeds, and the radio seem chock full of stories of corruption, conflict, and catastrophe, as it turns out, we may bring it on ourselves.

In a study that allowed people to choose between stories with either a positive or negative tone and subject matter, the participants skewed negative. That is because humans are hardwired with what psychologists have termed a “negativity bias.”

And this may be hardwired in our DNA.

Maybe because our ancestors needed to know the negative information for survival, we react more quickly and with more interest to potential threats or bad news.

The good news, though, is that we can be agents of change in our lives.  Even though each of us has mundane or even painful events and tasks before us, and even though there is plenty of bias news to pile on top of that, each of us has the power to be positive.

In fact, recognizing that there is good in every situation can help us be happier and more successful.

So be gone, negativity bias! Here are four ways to approach even the unwanted, seemingly deleterious parts of your life with a positive attitude.

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Have you ever seen a lumberjack cut down a tree? Sure, the final whack of the ax is the most impressive, since it is the one that fells the tree. But really, every strike, although seemingly insignificant at first, barely making a mark in the bark, brings the lumberjack closer to his goal.

Similarly, the constant practice of positivity in even seemingly insignificant encounters will lead us to the goal of a positive attitude at all times. For example, you can probably relate to waking up early in the morning, looking outside, and seeing an absolute downpour of rain. Immediately, you feel negative: there is no warm sunshine, your hair will be frizzy, and your feet will probably get damp by the time you reach the office.  Your whole day is framed in negativity.

Instead, look at the rain and think, “I won’t have to water my plants today!” or “Imagine how happy this would make me if I lived in a drought-prone part of the country.” Stop that negativity by practicing an attitude of gratitude.

Write Down Your Roses

Studies show that those who write a daily journal of the things they are thankful for are more likely to live happier, more satisfied lives.  As you become more comfortable with this practice, you’ll find that there is so much to be grateful for, and you can be more specific and inclusive as time goes on.  In just a few seconds, you can express thanks that the bus was on time, that there was an open seat, that you have the financial ability to pay the fare, and that we live in a time when public transportation is so efficient and safe.

Have you ever looked at a bus ride through that lens? Probably not, so how to get started? Some people use the shorthand “roses and thorns” to talk about the positive and negative parts of their days. The Obama family has even talked about their tradition of reviewing the highs and lows of each day together at the dinner table.

Take it a step further by writing it down, and you’ll find joy in going back to look at all of the blessings in your life.

Support + Be Supportive

The road to positivity isn’t one that is traveled alone. So think of the friends who focus on the good and go to them for support. There is no shame in saying, “I’m in a bit of a funk, and I could use your help” or “I just can’t face the task of ____, could you please help me?”

Also, don’t forget the joy felt by helping others!

By supporting friends, volunteering, visiting elderly relatives, and other acts of service, our own annoyances or burdens become light by comparison.

Keep A Positivity Chest

Some days are just filled with annoyances and unwanted tasks: never-ending meetings, followed by long lines at the grocery store, and a tiff with a loved one, ending with a broken fridge, and a load of laundry to fold.  Combat these days by reaching into your very own treasure chest of positivity: a place where you keep photographs that always make you laugh, thoughtful cards or notes you’ve received, printed out emails that praise you for a job well done.  These tangible pick-me-ups will save you from melancholy. Also, use these positive notes as a reminder that there is much to be grateful for, to laugh about, and to look forward to.

Being positive is not the same as being perfect. In fact, it is in recognizing that there is good even in painful and difficult situations that we can find the most grace and happiness. By following these four steps to get through unwanted events with a positive attitude, you’ll be well on your way to happiness and success.