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9 practical and fine ways to stay optimistic and happy

woman drawing smile on sunflower

All throughout life, in difficult situations we are being advised to ‘stay positive’. In fact, no matter what you do for a living or whenever you need to make the right decision, we are being led by one goal – to be happy.

woman drawing smile on sunflower

So how does one actually become happier? Negative situations happen all the time and we can’t avoid them. However, what we can do is learn how to deal with them with the help of a positive attitude. The power of positive thinking helps us stay mentally healthy even in the midst of tragedies. So learning how to stay positive in negative situations is vital if we want to lead a healthy lifestyle. Let’s find out what it takes to stay a ‘glass-half-full’ kind of person!

The ‘power of positive thinking’ – the key to dealing with challenging situations

Even though sometimes it can feel like a shabby phrase, the ‘power of positive thinking’ has been a very popular concept since forever. However, a positive mindset can improve your mood, give you confidence and even help you avoid stress-related disorders. In fact, both the physical and mental benefits of positive thinking have been indicated by various scientific studies.

In general, positive thinking can be defined as positive imagery, positive self-talk or developing an optimistic view. But these are all still ambiguous, general concepts, so in order to stay optimistic and happy, you will need concrete examples which will help you through the process of positive thinking.

9 ways to stay positive and happy

When life ‘hits’ you with difficult situations, the least you should do is keep your head in the sand and hope for the best by ignoring them. Instead, what you should do is try to approach the unpleasantness in a positive and productive way, no matter how hard it may seem. The process of change is simple, but it does take time and practice. Just think of it as acquiring a new habit. Let’s find out what you can do to think and behave in a more positive way!

1. Look for something to be optimistic about in any negative situation 

Easier said than done, right? Even though we can’t control what happens to us, the one thing we can do is learn how to control our response to it. It’s up to us to look for the bright side in everything and react in a positive manner. Sometimes asking yourself questions like ‘What is the one thing that is good about this situation?’ or ‘What is one opportunity within this situation?’ might help. You don’t even have to provide an answer to them right away, because sometimes the brain needs time to process the thoughts and emotions that arise in a particular negative situation.

Tip: Sometimes allowing yourself to find humor in even the most challenging situations can be exactly what you need. Remind yourself that that situation can later make for a good story or you can even crack jokes about it with friends and family.

smiling woman wearing white dress holding white flower

2. Learn from your failures

Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and experiences failure in various situations, at various jobs and with various people. So, instead of spending time focusing on how you failed and reproaching yourself, think about how you would react to it if it happens again. In short – turn failures into lessons. You can even create rules that you have to obey in future. For example, if you messed up on a certain project, make at least one rule that you would have to be led by on the following project to avoid putting yourself in a bad position.

3. Be grateful 

Take time to contemplate what you are grateful for in life. A research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that expressing gratitude reduces the stress hormone cortisol by a surprising 23%. People who worked on their ability to express gratitude had improved mood, energy and anxiety levels. Basically, it’s impossible to feel depressed if you have many things to be grateful about. No matter what happens, think about the things we have in our lives that many people in this world don’t have. You will soon realize that your positive attitude has become a way of life.

Tip 1: Make a list of all the things you are grateful about and keep it in a visible place. That way you can read them whenever you get the chance. It will attract positive vibes and you will feel much better.

Tip 2: If you are keeping a journal, add 2-3 highlights of your day that you are happy or grateful for. You’d be surprised how much positive energy these daily highlights will bring!

grateful man in black suit sitting on chair beside buildings
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

4. Create a positive environment

This refers to the people that surround you, the interior where you work, your home interior and the sources of information you choose. It’s crucial to have positive people around you who will help you stay positive in negative situations, instead of dragging you down even more. Moreover, it’s very important to carefully choose the input you get from sources like the internet, TV and magazines, since they have a huge effect on your mood on a daily basis. Spend time reading positive books, listening to good music and watching motivating movies. Your home and work interior can have a big impact on your mood as well. After all, you spend most of your day in either the first or the latter place, so it’s important to make it pleasant to the eye.

5. Don’t hide your feelings – speak up

Are you the kind of person who always keeps their feelings and thoughts to themselves? Try to find someone who can understand what you are going through and express those emotions. Many people use communication as a tool that helps dealing with difficult situations. When we express our emotions, we feel relief. And if you can’t find the right person, just take a notebook and write it all down. 

6. Exercise and sleep well

Exercising daily helps our body release endorphins, which improve our mood and make us happier. In fact, exercise has both physical and mental benefits, it keeps your body in shape and boosts your self-esteem! Bonus points if you do your workouts outdoors, since nature always gives us positive energy and helps us feel more relaxed afterwards.

And just think about how you feel when you don’t get enough sleep. The following day we feel tired, and very often negative. So what your body needs to deal with stress and pessimism is good quality sleep. Sleep helps your brain to stay focused, be more productive and along with that, be happy. People who get good sleep feel less stressed and angry.

 7. Mindfulness

It’s sometimes challenging for the human mind to stay in the present moment. We often tend to burden our mind regretting the past or worrying about the future. All those what if’s and should haves can sometimes feel overwhelming. Since mindfulness is all about being aware of the present moment, use this technique to deal with negative and stressful situations. When you are being actively mindful, you notice and pay attention to your feelings, thoughts, movements and behaviour, and to the effect they have on you and those around you. And of course, you might not notice a difference immediately, but you can only get better and better with practicing.

8. Don’t forget to smile 

It might sound too simple, but a smile or a good laugh will actually make you feel happier and more optimistic. The feedback which is sent to the brain due to the movement of facial muscles may impact the development of emotions. So try to find as many reasons as you can to smile today. And laughter is already known as one of the best stress-relievers!

Tip: Watch videos of things that make you laugh, or record funny experiences with your family and friends, so you can watch them over again and remind yourself that there are many reasons to smile.

smiling elderly man
Photo by Amy Elting

 9. Don’t let fear hold you back

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, where you simply want to take a chance in life, but starting something that feels unfamiliar seems like an impossible thing to do. Our body usually responds with fear and worrying about what could happen if you actually took action. This is one of those traps where your mind starts creating nightmare scenarios and creates plenty of self-doubt. What you need to do is ask yourself what would be the worst thing that could happen. When you figure that out, you can start spending time on how you would deal if that particular situation occurs. Soon you shall discover that reality is nowhere close to being as scary as the nightmare that your fear-fuelled mind produced. So, step outside of your comfort zone and take the chance. 

An optimistic person is a happy person!

No matter how bad things seem to be, every day has something positive in it. Some days you just have to look harder to find a reason to be happy and optimistic. Whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, the decision is entirely up to us. Positive thinking usually comes along with optimism and plays a key part in dealing with stress management effectively. So try incorporating these helpful tips into your life and you shall see how the positives outweigh the negatives. 

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