Some people mistakenly believe that an optimistic attitude is something you’re born with or without. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Optimism is a state of mind, and just like focus or analytical ability, it’s a skill that you can develop.
In fact, since a positive attitude is one of the most important attributes anyone can possess, it’s arguably the most important skill of all. In this blog post, we’ll explore nine simple strategies that are perfect for being a more positive, optimistic person.
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Benjamin Franklin’s most famous quote – “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – may be more true than you think. People who wake up early in the morning and spend more time in the sun are happier, more productive, and healthier, according to modern science.
Swiss researcher Mirjam Münch believes that spending time in natural sunlight is a great way to improve productivity and morale. While night owls tend to win in pure creativity, it’s early risers that are reported as being the happiest, most focused, and highly productive.
Think sleep doesn’t matter? Think again – our blog post on the science of sleep is an excellent primer on the effect your sleep has on your happiness and productivity.
Start setting goals
It’s easy to feel pessimistic and depressed when your life feels like it’s standing still every day. One of the best ways to become more positive is by setting goals on both a short-term and long-term basis.
From career aspirations to health-based goals, having a milestone to reach is a great way to keep yourself motivated and positive. Achieving a personal goal is one of the most satisfying feelings imaginable, and an essential part of being a positive person.
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The benefits of yoga are almost endless. From improving your flexibility to relieving stress, performing a short yoga session at the end of each day is a great way to chill out, improve your personal focus, and develop a positive attitude.
People that perform yoga every day tend to feel less stressful, more energized, and far more optimistic than their peers. Even a short 15-20 minute yoga session can be enough to reduce your stress levels and start feeling better every day.
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Exercise every day
Do you work out? If not, why not? Exercising every day results in deeper sleep, more energy during the daytime, and an incredible feeling of personal confidence that you can only develop by improving yourself.
Virgin billionaire Richard Branson’s number one “secret” to wealth and productivity is simple: keep fit and exercise. Others agree: scientists are increasingly finding that people who exercise are more productive, motivated, and positive.
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Become your ideal self
There’s a popular saying among entrepreneurs: “Act as if.” It’s simple – it means you should act as if you’re already the successful, motivated, and happy person you want to be, instead of thinking about how you should become them.
Adopting the philosophy of “act as if” is a great way to switch from a mindset that’s focused on the future and adopt one that’s focused on the present. This tiny change in your mindset can have huge positive results in changing the way you behave.
Think of yourself as your ideal you. Then start changing your behavior to match that version of yourself, one step at a time. Wake up earlier, change your diet, focus more on your dream projects, and eventually you’ll become the person you want to be.
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Stop fearing failure
Fear of failure will hold you back more than anything else. When you have a nagging doubt in the back of your mind that you could fail at something, you’ll never devote the necessary energy, focus, and effort to turn yourself into a success.
The key to eliminating your fear of failure is understanding how little you’ll lose if you don’t achieve your goals. Will you be worse off? Of course not – you’ll actually be in the same position you are right now, before you start taking action.
Once you stop thinking of failure as the ultimate horror, you’ll start being positive naturally. You’ll take action to achieve your goals, and you’ll paradoxically become more successful than you could ever imagine.
Think of obstacles as challenges
Have you ever told yourself that something is too much work? From business ideas to personal goal setting, writing off something as too difficult is a dangerous type of mindset that can quickly turn into a pessimistic, unhappy attitude.
Whenever you find yourself saying that something is too much work, think of the old Zen proverb: “The obstacle is the path.” Reframe obstacles as challenges, and think of difficulties in your life as tests that simply make you stronger and more focused.
It takes thousands of hours of practice to become a great musician. It takes years of training to become a doctor. Nothing comes easy. Challenge yourself to finish a huge project and you’ll start thinking of obstacles as personal tests to dive headfirst into.
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Give yourself some downtime
Every weekday afternoon, Spanish merchants shut their stores for an hour for their daily siesta, of afternoon nap. Every evening, Japanese salarymen sink into an onsen or sento – a therapeutic bath – for a relaxing period of personal reflection.
All of the world’s oldest cultures have a daily ritual of personal downtime, whether it’s an afternoon nap or an evening bath. The modern Western schedule is the only exception – during the daytime we work, and in the evening we socialize.
Try to schedule some downtime for yourself – whether it’s a relaxing bath or a yoga session – every day. Not only will you feel more relaxed and energetic; you’ll also be more positive and optimistic about your life as a whole.
Make friends with happy people
The old proverb “Birds of a feather flock together” couldn’t be more true. When you surround yourself with people that are focused, positive, and motivated, you’ll find yourself adopting their attitudes and behaviors.
Likewise, when you surround yourself with negative people, you’ll quickly turn into a pessimist focused only on doom and gloom. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn got it right when he said “you are the average of the five people you spend time with.”
When you socialize, try to spend your time with happy people. Take note of the way your friends and colleagues behave, and spend as little time as you can with people that seem trapped in a cycle of negativity.
One of the best ways to improve your circle of friends is through networking. Enroll in our course, How to Build an Awesome Professional Network, to learn how to find motivated, positive people that share your goals and aspirations.