It's hard to know how to be positive in a negative world sometimes. For me, I tend to be a naturally positive person.
I always think even when I feel my worst, things can eventually work out the way I hope.
But I know for a lot of people that kind of optimistic thinking doesn’t come naturally. So I’ve compiled a list of 30 ways to live more positively in 2021.
30 tips to stay positive in 2021
- Record positive reflections of your day
- Make other people feel good
- Mindful gratitude
- Have the best perspective possible
- Move it along attitude
- Let your weaknesses be your strength
- Enjoy the simplicity of life
- Read and watch positive stories
- Make yourself feel good
- Get excited about something every now and then
- Make calmness a habit
- Mute all the negative friends
- Take breaks
- Do an exercise you like
- Focus on your own thoughts (not someone else's)
- Do something new
- 10 minutes of negativity
- Practice cognitive behavioral therapy
- Real it until you feel it
- Make your healthy food taste good
- Plan something to make you feel good the moment you wake up
- More sleep, more energy, more positivity
- Spend time with a friend's pet, or find a place that lets you play with them
- Get in the zone doing something creative
- Make a positivity pact
- Focus on and live for something bigger than you
- Turn your house into your positive energy source
- Play memory games
- Intentionally make different choices
- Visualize yourself in your dream location
1. Record positive reflections of your day
We’re in the technological age. People can download music and make short video clips in a minute.
So why not use those tools to improve ourselves? At the end of each day, record 2 positive things that happened to you.
Play it back to yourself and let the positivity you hear in your own voice sink inside of you.
Listen to it again in the morning to help put you in a positive mindset to start the day.
As you compile weeks of recordings, every time you get down about your life, you can use those recordings as a powerful reminder to yourself of how much good is in your life.
Try to find something different each day that was a good moment for you.
2. Make other people feel good
When you make someone else feel good, it can have a way of making you feel good. And as it makes you feel good, it’ll be easier for you to be positive about your day.
It's been proven that being generous makes us happy.
Tell someone in your life what you appreciate that they do for you, or help someone out if you see an opportunity to do something nice for someone.
3. Mindful gratitude
People talk about gratitude helping us be happier and upbeat. I think there’s a way you can uniquely take that gratitude one step further.
In whatever moment you’re in, notice what you can be thankful for, and also think about why you’re thankful for it. Here are some examples:
- I’m thankful for the chair I can sit on.
- I appreciate the comfort I’m currently feeling in it.
- I'm thankful I'm able to focus completely on what I’m doing right now.
Really dive deep into how grateful you are through mindful gratitude.
4. Have the best perspective possible
Why are people in some of the poorest places in life so happy? It’s because they have perspective.
They don’t dwell on the things they want that they don’t have. They appreciate the needs of life they do have, such as family support, friends, shelter, and food.
Perspective is all about knowing what your priorities are in life, and focusing on that.
Think about perspective in this way too. There’s an old short story about a blind man in a hospital bed next to the only window in the room.
Another man shared a room with him who was really negative about life. He had to sit in the other bed lying on his back, unable to look out the window.
The blind man described a beautiful sight outside the window. The complaining man really enjoyed his descriptions and felt good inside.
One day the blind man died, and the other guy got to sit next to the window.
He looked outside and was frustrated to see there was nothing that was described outside.
The nurse replied, "The man was totally blind. He was saying those things to encourage you and make you happy."
Perspective is not about what you see, it’s about how you choose to see it. Choose to be intentional about how you perceive your world.
5. Move it along attitude
When a car rides over a pothole, it momentarily bounces off course, but it doesn’t stop.
It just keeps moving forward. The same applies with all the little things that bother you in our life.
You can either let them slow you down, stop you completely, or just keep it moving.
Sometimes things aren’t always exactly the way I want, but I remind myself not to overreact to that, and just remain relaxed.
It's one of the best ways you can stay positive about work if you don't like your job, or school if you don't like your classes.
6. Let your weaknesses be your strength
I found this cracked pot story on the internet for an assignment I had in high school.
A water bearer had two pots he would carry on a stick over his back. One on the left side, the other on the right. One pot was perfect, and the other one was cracked.
Every time he went to get water to bring back to his master, the perfect pot had a full bowl of water, but the cracked pot only half because it would leak out.
One day, the water bearer noticed how sad the cracked pot was and asked, “What’s wrong?” The cracked pot told him how flawed he felt only being able to bring back half a pot of water.
The water bearer said to the cracked pot, “Pay attention to the flowers on the way back to the master’s house”.
The cracked pot noticed and started to feel better, until they got back and he only had a half a pot of water again and apologized.
The water bearer said, "I leave seeds on your side of the path, and every day we walked back, you watered the path. Because of your crack, I’m able to pick beautiful flowers for my master to enjoy seeing.”
As the story illustrates, even in our imperfections, we can embrace them and recognize them as strengths.
That helps you to be positive about yourself. I’m not always the most talkative person, but it’s a strength because it allows me to be a better listener.
Recognize how your “weaknesses” give you strength to feel more confident, and you'll be more able to have a constructive attitude.
7. Enjoy the simplicity of life
I find just noticing and enjoying the simplicity of life can relax me. And when I’m relaxed, I’m better able to think positive thoughts.
Notice the sound of the birds outside, or focus on the detail of the colors you see.
At the very least, it’ll help distract you from any of the negative thoughts in your mind.
8. Read and watch positive stories
Your mind gets influenced by the stuff you put most of your attention on. For example, it’s been well documented that people can get depressed after watching the news.
Why? Because there’s a bunch of negative stories on there most of the time.
You hear about all types of horrible things that happen to people everyday. And out of all of that horribleness, you get maybe one feel good story for 30 seconds and that’s it.
The same can be true of social media. You get on Facebook and all you might see are a bunch of people complaining, and then that influences you to complain about something.
So if this all has an effect on us in a negative way, then perhaps the opposite must be true.
Try to mostly read and watch positive stories for one week. There are websites that only focus on the best things that our happening in the world.
I know when I stop watching the news so much I’m more able to be positive about life. Maybe you’ll be able to as well.
9. Make yourself feel good
Most of the time we can’t be positive because we’re allowing ourselves to feel bad most of the time.
Feeling tired because we’re not getting enough sleep, not eating enough, or just not giving ourselves a good laugh in the day.
I do what I can to make myself feel good as much as I can throughout my day. Whether it’s eating, taking breaks between my work, or just having fun.
It reduces my stress about life, reduces my negativity, and allows me to be more optimistic.
10. Get excited about something every now and then
Everyday I try to find something to get excited about being able to enjoy at the end of my day.
It could be a football game I’ve been looking forward to, or just something that I saved on YouTube that I plan to watch later.
Give yourself something to anticipate to help yourself be less negative about your day.
11. Make calmness a habit
I alluded to this earlier about relaxation, but let’s go deeper into this. Most of the time when we’re negative, we’re either stressed or anxious.
When you make calmness a habit, it helps you deal with the stress and anxiety of life better.
Doing something like listening to calming music, meditating, or just walking in nature can keep you from spiraling into negativity.
People often don’t realize that being more positive is also about just being less negative.
12. Mute all the negative friends
I quit actively being on Facebook because I was better off without it. But I know some people like to stay connected on there.
So to limit the negativity you see, mute all the friends that mostly complain on your timeline
Do the same for Twitter, Instagram, and all your other social media. That way you can be on there and see mostly positive stuff.
You might want to also consider practice social media minimalism.
The other part you should keep in mind with social media is to not dwell on how “happy” everyone seems to be.
Always remember the stuff people share on their timeline is only a snapshot of their life.
It doesn’t show all the other bad moments they’re dealing with, and also all the unhappy feelings they have which they don’t show anybody.
Having that perspective will help you be able to not get down on yourself.
13. Take breaks
Our society tends to praise pushing yourself to the brink of your limits, but that’s just going to leave you out of energy.
It’s hard to feel cheerful when you don’t have much energy.
Whatever you’re working hard on, when you’ve put in some good work, learn to just stop and reward yourself with a break.
You’ll replenish your energy and keep yourself feeling good.
14. Do an exercise you like
Everybody talks about how exercise helps us to feel more positive. And it’s true, it does affect your mood.
But most people I know have a negative view of working out. Me personally, I like it a lot.
But for those that don’t, there's a way you can kind of trick yourself to getting the exercise you need.
Find one you like to do. And instead of thinking “I have to exercise today,” you’ll think to yourself, “I look forward to dancing today” or “I look forward to doing yoga today.”
Not only will you get the wellness benefits, you’ll get more of an extra emotional benefit as well, because you’re having fun doing what you like.
15. Focus on your own thoughts (not someone else’s)
The most important person’s thoughts are your own. But we tend to think of it the other way around.
We think other people’s thoughts are the most important, and as a result, when other people are negative about us, we get negative about ourselves.
Once you recognize what people think is only as important as what you conclude to be true, you can choose to make up your own mind about yourself and your life.
I’ve had many people in life say belittling things about me, and I used to be bothered by that. Sometimes even agreeing with it.
But with this understanding of deciding what's true about me, I’m able to choose to ignore what other people say that’s negative, and think only the best of myself.
When you live with that kind of confidence to not let anyone’s negativity influence your positivity, it makes it easier to be hopeful.
16. Do something new
Whenever you do something new, it can create a meaningful memory in your mind.
And when it’s there, you have something positive to look back on, as opposed to the bad memories in the past we can sometimes dwell on.
I had a few new experiences recently traveling to a place I hadn’t been to before.
I enjoy looking back on those positive memories in my mind, and it leaves less room for the negative stuff to be inside.
So, the more new things you do, the more good you can think about that can make you feel good, and be optimistic.
17. 10 minutes of negativity
I read about this tool in a book by Sean Stephenson called "Get Off Your “But.” It actually had a lot of good tips on it for being positive.
But one in particular I remember was a rule he’d learned to live by. He would give himself 10 minutes of time to be as negative as possible about whatever he was feeling.
Then after that, he would do his best to avoid being negative for most of the day.
So try 10 minutes of getting all of that negative energy out of you if you need to, then see how it helps you be more optimistic throughout the day.
18. Practice cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a tool many psychologists use to help people with anxiety or depression. But frankly, everybody should be taught CBT.
It’s basically challenging your negative thoughts with a more reasonable understanding of reality.
For example, let's say you have the thought, “They’re all probably judging me right now.”
That can be challenged with the thought, “I don’t know what these people are thinking, and more than likely, they’re probably focusing more on themselves than me.”
These kind of tactics of challenging your thoughts will relax you to the point of having less of those negative thoughts.
19. Real it until you feel it
A lot of times people will say fake it until you make it. In one sense, it's OK advice for those focused on pushing through to feeling good in the long run.
But sometimes you just want good feelings as soon as possible. You want your positivity to bring you happiness right now.
So, I say “real it until you feel it”, meaning do as many positive things as you can that really could make you happy until you feel it.
All the stuff mentioned so far, try that and whatever else you can think of.
Why put on a fake smile when you can find something to laugh at to give you a real smile?
Why force yourself to think you’re happy, when you can actually do everything you can to make yourself feel happy?
A simple food for thought that you can give a shot.
20. Make your fruits and vegetables food taste good
You’ve probably heard eat your fruits and vegetables so many times it goes in one ear and out the other.
Almost everybody knows if you eat better you can feel happier and more positive. And most of the time people aren’t that excited to do that.
But who says you can’t make it exciting? You can find nutritious things you really like to eat, or flavor them in a way that makes them taste better to you.
That will make you more motivated to eat better and give you that energy and happiness boost that’ll help you be positive.
Add some spices like turmeric to tofu, or put in some ginger and cinnamon in some oatmeal.
Whatever you can find that make things taste better. Your body and mind will be glad you did it.
21. Plan something to make you feel good the moment you wake up
Often we check our smartphones or laptops the moment we wake up.
And usually we check the news or our e-mails, and more than likely we see something we don’t like, and we start our day off in a negative mood.
I try to make it a habit not to let my phone or my laptop be the first thing I check when I wake up.
Instead, I try to just relax and enjoy the quiet of early morning. That helps to allow me to feel more positive to start my day. I always look forward to enjoying my quiet early mornings.
Maybe for you it could be something different. Perhaps you could go take a nice warm shower the moment you wake up, or maybe you could grab your favorite snack to take a bite out of it.
Whatever you prefer, when you plan something that feels good the first few minutes of your day, it’s easier to be optimistic about the rest of the day.
22. More sleep, more energy, more positivity
As I’ve stressed in this article, being positive can have a lot to do with how energized we feel. And if we don’t get sleep, we generally don’t have energy.
So to get more energy, you need to get more sleep, and you’ll be more likely to feel positive emotions.
Now I’m nowhere near a sleep expert, as I often struggle with staying up later than I need to.
But there are recommendations given by the sleep foundation that can help us get the sleep we need. Some of them include:
- Sleeping on comfortable mattresses and pillows
- Having a sleep schedule
- Avoiding heavy meals in the evening
So do your best to get as much sleep as you can for more positivity.
23. Spend time with a friend’s pet, or find a place that lets you play with them
Not everyone wants the responsibility of taking care of a pet. In fact, the stress of that could be counterproductive for your positivity.
So if you’re looking for a more stress-free way to enjoy some animals, you could spent time with a friend’s pet. There’s also places you can find where they'll let you play with animals.
Studies have proven dogs, cats and other animals can relieve stress and make people feel happier. This can be especially good when you feel depressed.
Take advantage of this and give yourself more positive feelings through spending time with an animal.
24. Get in the zone doing something creative
I learned this from watching a happiness documentary. Apparently when we do something creative like play music or draw, and just do it without thinking much about what we’re doing, it makes us feel good.
Researchers call this moment of improvisational action as “flow”. I know when I used to play my electric guitar, it gave me a good feeling to just make something up as I played.
Maybe the same will be true for you. Give it a try. It could make you more happier and positive.
25. Make a positivity pact
You can get your friends and family in on all the positivity too.
Make a positivity pact with them that all of you will say something encouraging to each other to start the day, and maybe also something encouraging to end the day.
The words people tell you can be great affirmations to repeat back to yourself to increase those positive vibes.
The social interaction making you more connected with your friends and family, the good feeling of giving them encouragement, and them giving you encouragement, all combines to make a powerful boost of a positivity for you.
26. Focus on and live for something bigger than you
In some of my most negative moments, when I devoted myself to something that I viewed as noble and inspirational, I could feel positive through the negativity.
When you do something that you really feel matters, all the bad stuff seems to matter less.
Find something, whether it’s faith, a passion, or just your family. Center your life around those important matters, and you’ll feel good about yourself in doing that, and help yourself be positive.
27. Turn your house into your positive energy source
When you look around your place, does it uplift you? Does it make you feel happy?
I know during times in college, when I went back home for the weekend, my room was like my refuge.
It was a place that was most familiar to me, and therefore most comforting. And the comfort relaxed me and made me feel good and energized.
You can make your room and your whole space like that. Hang up your greatest accomplishments on your wall, like your degrees or certificates. Display some positive quotes or affirmations.
You could also have the colors inside be ones that are your favorite. You could put plants in your house, spray a scent you like, and so many other different adjustments.
Really dive deep into putting together your space in a way that makes you feel your best, and allows you to be your most positive.
28. Play memory games
This is probably one of the cooler things I learned recently. So playing memory games to enhance your memory can actually help reduce stress and anxiety.
I like to play matching card games to help me improve my memory. Find a game you like that can help yours.
Improving your ability to feel less anxiety will make positivity an easier choice for you.
29. Intentionally make different choices
This is another interesting tip I learned from the same happiness documentary I mentioned earlier.
Research has found that adding variety in our day, such as choosing a different route to work, or just doing any regular task differently, it can make you happier.
I’ve tried to do things differently from time to time in my life. Maybe if you try as well, it can boost your mood and increase your positivity.
30. Visualize yourself in your dream location
Research has shown it can make us feel good to picture ourselves in a happy place.
I like to visualize myself walking on a beach with clear blue skies and the sound of the ocean crashing.
Make yourself feel good through visualizing yourself in the place of your dreams. The good feelings will relax you, and as you relax, you can feel positive.
Positivity is about conscious choices
Being more positive is less about forcing yourself to smile or think happy thoughts, and more about making conscious choices that allow it to naturally happen more.
Hopefully through all of these suggestions you’ll be able to naturally feel more optimistic about life.
What choices do you make to help you feel positive? I’d be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments. Who knows, you might help somebody else to be positive too.