Positivity doesn’t always refer to simply smiling and looking cheerful, however—positivity is more about one’s overall perspective on life and their tendency to focus on all that is good in life.
“Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results.”
Having a positive mindset means making positive thinking a habit, continually searching for the silver lining and making the best out of any situation you find yourself in.
What a Positive Attitude looks like
• Optimistic: a willingness to make an effort and take a chance instead of assuming your efforts won’t pay off.
• Accepting: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how you want them to, but learning from your mistakes.
• Resilient: bouncing back from adversity, disappointment, and failure instead of giving up.
• Grateful: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in your life (Blank, 2017).
• Mindful: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing the ability to focus.
• Having Integrity: being honourable, righteous, and straightforward, instead of deceitful and self-serving
Note: Actively adopting optimism, acceptance, resilience, gratitude, mindfulness, and integrity in your life will also help you develop and maintain a positive mindset.
Examples of Positive Attitude in action
For example, positive attitudes can include:
• It is looking adversity in the eye… and laughing.
• Getting what you get, and not pitching a fit.
• Enjoying the unexpected, even when it’s not what you wanted originally.
• Motivating those around you with a positive word.
• Using the power of a smile to reverse the tone of a situation.
• Being friendly to those you don’t know.
• It’s getting back up when you fall down. (No matter how many times you fall down.)
• Being a source of energy that lifts those around you.
• Understanding that relationships are more important than material things.
• Being happy even when you have little.
• Having a good time even when you are losing.
• Being happy for someone else’s success.
• Having a positive future vision, no matter how bad your current circumstances.
• Paying a compliment, even to a total stranger.
• Tell someone you know that they did a great job. (And mean it.)
• Making someone’s day. (Not just a child’s… adult’s like to have their day be special, too!)
• It’s not complaining no matter how unfair things appear to be. (It is a waste of time… instead, do something!)
• Not letting other people’s negativity bring you down.
• Giving more than you expect to get in return.
• Being true to yourself… always (Jarrow, 2012).
Why a Positive Attitude is life-changing?
So, what’s the deal with having a positive attitude?
What is it about having a positive mindset that is so important, so impactful, so life-changing?
There is so much research that links the benefits of mindfulness, optimism and resilience in your life. Further awareness and integrity are linked to better quality of life and acceptance and gratitude can take you from the “okay life” to the “good life.”
Aside from enhancing your skills and personal resources, there are many other benefits of cultivating a positive mindset, including better overall health, better ability to cope with stress and greater well-being (Cherry, 2017A).
According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can
• increase your lifespan,
• reduce rates if depression and levels of distress,
• give you greater resistance to the common cold,
• improve your overall psychological and physical well-being,
• improve your cardiovascular health and protect you from cardiovascular disease,
• help you build coping skills to keep you afloat during challenging times
Not Giving in to the Doom-and-Gloom view of the world
Developing a truly positive mindset and gaining the benefits is a function of the thoughts you cultivate. I am not saying that just by “thinking happy thoughts” will bring you all the success you desire in life, and I certainly don’t believe that you have to be optimistic in every situation, every minute of the day.
Developing the right thoughts is not about being constantly happy or cheerful, and it’s not about ignoring anything negative or unpleasant in your life. It’s about incorporating both the good with the bad, the positive with the negative into your perspective and choosing to still be generally optimistic.
It’s about acknowledging that you will not always be happy and learning to accept bad moods and difficult emotions when they come.
Above all, it’s about increasing your control over your own attitude in the face of whatever comes your way. You may not always be able to control your mood or the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can choose how you handle them or respond to them.
When you choose to give in to the negativity, pessimism, and doom-and-gloom view of the world, you are not only submitting to a loss of control and potentially wallowing in unhappiness—you are missing out on an important opportunity for your own growth.
According to positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, negative thinking, and negative emotions have their place: they allow you to sharpen your focus on dangers, threats, and vulnerabilities. This is vital for survival, although perhaps not as much as it was for our ancestors.
On the other hand, positive thinking and positive emotions” broaden and build” our resources and skills, and open us up to possibilities (Fredrickson, 2004).
Building a positive framework for your thoughts is not about being bubbly and annoyingly cheerful, but making an investment in yourself and your future. It’s okay to feel down or think pessimistically sometimes, but choosing to respond with optimism, resilience, and gratitude will benefit you far more in the long run.