When your world is filled to the brim with obstacles and uncertainty, it can be difficult to imagine feeling anything but overwhelmed. The pressure to have answers, be prepared and feel happy about it all is intense. Required happiness is a pervasive theme of our society, however, the state of the world in general- much less the weight of our lives- can make it feel like something we’re constantly falling short of. That energy feels wasted and lost. We feel tired, defeated, and overwhelmed.
But can you put that energy into being positive instead of happy?
I know, I hear you:
What’s the difference between positive and happy?
When you let go of the drain of energy being directed into projecting an outwardly happy emotional response, we can make space within ourselves to sit with those responses and accept them. With acceptance comes the space to act upon your reality instead of your hope.
Positively Present sums it up beautifully: “Happiness is a mood, positivity is a mindset.” Being a positive person is not about being eternally happy or forcing emotions that don’t feel real.
There are health benefits to being positive. Along with a more balanced brainscape, positive people enjoy:
- More good days
- Longer life spans
- Lower blood pressure
- Supportive relationships
- A healthier sense of self
4 Tips to Becoming a More Positive Person
Ready to soften those sharp edges of life with a positive mindset? We’re ready to help. Follow these tips to recalibrate your emotional spectrum from halfway happy to pure positivity.
1. Embrace optimism
Even when things aren’t going your way, holding on to the certainty that the unexpected is going to reap positive benefits is a boon to emotional health and improved outcomes. Optimism doesn’t require your utter joy in every moment. Instead, an optimistic outlook implies a conviction that even if you aren’t okay right now, you trust in the future that things will be okay.
By exercising an unfailing belief in the return to rightness, we strengthen our ability to see the positive side of life before we even register the negative. Strengthening the muscle of optimism makes it easier, and more intuitive, to use.
2. Reject toxic positivity
Being a positive person does not mean that you are unaware of the less desirable things that inevitably occur in all our lives. The world can be challenging. Moments and emotions can be difficult and scary, but ignoring those things does not make them go away. Toxic positivity undermines the presence of negative facets of life through relentless reframing beyond reality.
Reject the idea that everything must be good. Resist the urge to say (to yourself or others) that you should “just cheer up” or “it’s not that bad”. Maybe it is that bad, and it’s often not that easy to cheer up. But we can support someone with positive affirmations like, “I hear what you’re saying” or “it’s okay not to be okay.” You can’t pep-talk someone to happiness.
3. Practice Radical Acceptance
Dialectical therapy approaches are a boon in supporting a positive mindset in that they cultivate the power of letting go- of perfection, control and all the things outside our power. Radical acceptance is a DBT practice geared toward exactly what it sounds like- accepting things as they happen. When you resist the idea of struggle or disappointment, energy then pours into the efforts of pushing away the natural response to those emotions. People, however, are designed to experience a spectrum of emotions and no expenditure of effort will take away the difficult side of that spectrum.
Instead of pushing those emotions away, try accepting the things that caused them so you can more swiftly move through that very human reaction and on to the things that come after. While you’re working through learning to radically accept your experiences and emotions, give yourself the space to practice something else radical too- permission. Give yourself the space to feel and be exactly where you are with the optimistic trust that you will not always be there. Disappointment can’t last forever, but hope can. Work through the first by accepting the reality of a moment or feeling, and your well for the positive- hope- will only deepen.
4. Be grateful
Whether as you start your day or end it, spend a few minutes thinking of the things you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be big things, in fact- maybe they shouldn’t be. Practicing gratitude for small moments and everyday things gives you more opportunities to envelope your thoughts in positivity even when times are hard. For example, if you can see the beauty of the rain on the windows and the way the flowers perk up afterward, it may make it a lot easier to move past a disappointing raincheck.
Practice gratitude by appreciating your loved ones. Express your grateful heart for their presence, or for the way they’ve impacted your life, just because it’s crossed your mind. Being grateful is one of the few life spaces where being reckless and indulgent can nourish your soul. If you are seeking a rush amid recovery, lean on spontaneous gratitude to uplift your loved ones and your own spirit.
In many ways, being a positive person looks very little like being a happy person. Happy people aren’t always seeking authentic fulfillment. Positivity through kind self-talk, gratitude and acceptance will always move you toward that goal. If you are struggling through your recovery and in finding the light in your dark, we believe in you. Together, we can support your pursuit of positivity.