8 Ways You Can Maintain a Positive Outlook—No Matter What
Train yourself to always look on the bright side in your every day life with these expert tips.
You know those people who are always “glass is half full?” Studies have shown that those types of people tend to have more positive and fulfilled lives. But we get it, between doom and gloom in the news, inflation, and the stressors of life, it can be hard to always keep that positive outlook. The good news is it’s not impossible, even though getting there may take some work.
To change your outlook, experts say, it’s important to break down the eight major areas of life. Each is important in its own way. Being intentional about how you approach each one is key to achieving balance and being able to see things in a positive light.
That doesn’t mean you need to be happy all the time—that’s just not realistic. Instead, it’s good to have some tools at your disposal to help you find the good in life and feel better no matter how out of control other things in life may be. It’s okay to feel all the feelings and be sad, mad, lonely or depressed. The point is that you train yourself that it’s only temporary.
Sheila Babendir, EdD LPC, from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Phoenix, breaks down how you can balance all of your needs. This will help you have a sunny outlook no matter how bleak things may seem. Here are 8 ways to stay positive, no matter what.
1. Be mindful of what you’re putting in your body.
We already know our physical body needs to be fueled with nutrients to function well. Its important to be deliberate about what you are eating.
Babendir recommends intentionally choosing foods that will give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep energized throughout the day. You also need to move your body each day, which can be as simple as getting off the chair and walking around (if you can, walk around outdoors), as well as breathing deeply. Your yard or front stoop counts! Take the time to feel the breeze around you and notice the smells and sights.
If it’s not possible to go outside, look out a window or find something to appreciate where you are in that exact moment, and focus on that.
2. Maintain your space.
Simply put, your physical environment is everything around you. Intentionally create your space to be neat, tidy and comfortable. Even when other things seem out of control, keeping your space neat and tidy is something you can do to maintain order and create calm in the chaos. Recognize space that is yours—whether it’s a cubicle at work or your bedroom—and add something comforting and special, like a picture of a loved one or a memento that reminds you of a happy experience.
Having a comfortable and comforting physical space can go a long way toward promoting a positive attitude.
3. Tap into your spiritual side.
Whether or not you believe in a higher power, spiritual life is how you connect to your deeper self and the greater world around you. Find time each day to be quiet and reflective for at least 10 minutes. Think about what brings you joy and take the time to consider what you are grateful for, even if things aren’t going well.
Gratitude promotes positivity. Giving yourself the gift of a few minutes each day to ponder joy and gratitude promotes self-value and can reinforce a positive outlook, suggests Babendir.
4. Acknowledge your emotions.
This is key for well-being. Babendir suggests engaging in a “mindful moment” each day to remind yourself to be present in the here and now. Feel the emotion that arises in that moment and address it—good or bad.
Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” and then make the choice to release it or investigate it more deeply. Do you understand why you are feeling this way? Understanding our emotions gives us more control over them. In turn, having control over our thoughts and emotions promotes a positive outlook.
5. Live with purpose.
Try to learn something new each day, whether it’s for your career or personal life. Babendir says that learning allows the brain to be more creative and feel challenged.
“You don’t need to register for a graduate level course to feel fulfilled. Instead, read something, listen to a podcast, try a new skill or watch a ‘how to’ YouTube video,” she explains. When your brain is engaged in new learning it feels more alive. This promotes a feeling of competency, credibility and purposefulness. In turn, this will help you have a more positive outlook.
6. Put effort into your social life.
Being social is more important for staying positive than most people realize. Isolation can lead to depression, says Babendir. To combat this, it’s important to increase those important social connections, she says.
Even if you work from home or don’t have any plans for Saturday afternoon, reach out to a friend or family member on the daily. Even a simple “hi” or a smile and “thank you” to a clerk can go a long way toward creating a positive attitude.
Call a friend and ask how they are, schedule time to talk with a family member or take a moment to engage with a neighbor. Avoid remaining isolated even if that feels easier and more convenient. It’s not good for your mental health and can make it harder to stay cheery.
7. Prioritize rest.
If you have a little R&R every day, you’ll focus better and increase your productivity, affirms Babendir. That doesn’t mean you need to set aside an hour every day or plan something elaborate—even just a quick nap will do the trick!
There are no hard and fast rules as to what works, but you shouldn’t worry about being productive during this time. As long as you are participating in an activity that is enjoyable and relaxing to you, you’re on the right track and will likely walk away in a better mood.
8. Love hard.
While we often throw the term “love” around, it doesn’t always have to mean romantic love. “Love” simply stands for a genuine connection. Babendir says it’s important to connect with significant people in your life on a regular basis. Relationships are two-sided, and finding a way to express your gratitude or appreciation for someone important to you will help you be happier.
This doesn’t need to be complicated. Giving a compliment to a loved one or sometimes just affirming your feelings for them is enough. Being the person who initiates this type of positive interaction changes your brain’s focus for the better. To give a compliment, your mind must switch from a negative set to a positive one by forcing you to look for something good, which can influence your mood.
Plus, choosing to share a loving message with someone encourages that person to act more positively toward you, too. This can lead to a boost in your happiness and view of life. Is your glass half full yet?