The Perks of a Positive Attitude

The Perks of a Positive Attitude

Do you want to make your day a little brighter—and a little easier too? Most of us do. Then consider this:

Research shows that if we make some simple shifts in how we think about—and react to—normal day-to-day occurrences, we are likely to benefit in multiple ways. Most importantly, we are likely to vastly improve our sense of well-being and feelings of happiness.

Ready to give it a go? Great! Here are a few tips from cutting-edge “happiness” research.

When problems crop up, bring out the best version of yourself.

When I was younger, I had a teacher who managed to bring out the best in her students—even though we behaved like a bunch of rough and tough, mischievous rascals most of the time. I don’t know how she did it, but we learned the value of taking a deep breath, removing ourselves physically from the situation if necessary, and getting a grip on our impulses before talking out the problem. Try to handle the situation as professionally as possible. To this day, I try to follow this simple process and it hasn’t let me down yet.

Give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t “overthink” it.

Human beings are complex, full of interesting—and sometimes annoying—quirks. If the events of a day, or a particular individual, throw you a curve ball, take it in stride. Don’t let your mind go into overdrive—jumping to unfounded conclusions, concocting conspiracy theories, etc. This kind of thinking will quickly take you into a black hole. Instead of wasting energy building up feelings of anger and resentment, make a conscious decision to NOT go down a negative—and self-defeating—path. Instead, put a positive spin on the situation.

Take criticism in stride.

Well-meaning messengers may bungle the delivery through poor word choice or other awkward habits, but most people just want to help you get the job done—and offer support along the way. We all could use some practice both delivering and receiving advice, but here’s the bottom line. Before immediately thinking the worst, take a step back and look at the situation objectively. Nine times out of ten you are likely to learn something useful from offered advice. So, take the tip and run with it.

Reach out to people you don’t know.

A study recently found that a significant boost of happiness comes from striking up conversations with strangers or people you don’t know well. This can be someone you bump into at the local coffee shop or laundromat, or someone you meet as you wait to catch a train. It can also be someone you don’t regularly interact with at your place of work. If you start up a conversation with someone new, research says you can count on experiencing some unexpected joy. Not a bad result, right?

Think of a moment when you were on the receiving end of an act of kindness.

How did that make you feel? Now, consider a switch: You be the agent of kindness and replicate that act on someone else’s behalf.

Hang out with positive people.

It’s bound to improve your outlook. We can’t always be chipper, of course, because we’re only human. But hanging with like-minded, positive people is energizing and good for your soul. We’ve all experienced a negative personality—someone who’s outlook is “half empty” and just plain cynical—even when times are good. In most cases, you want to avoid running into that person again because, let’s face it, a bad attitude is just a drain on your energy. By hanging with positive people, the good vibes have a way of spreading. Before long, your cynical outlook will be a thing of the past.

Make gratitude a habit.

This one can be difficult to remember to do, but the benefits pay off in spades. Carve out five minutes of your day to think about something you are grateful for. It can be as simple as being thankful for the delicious piece of cake you plan to enjoy at lunch or the fortifying heart-to-heart conversation you had with a coworker recently. Wasn’t it great when your friend gave you two free tickets to a concert last week? (Anyway, you probably get the picture by now.) Even on the tougher days, it’s usually possible to find at least one thing to appreciate.

After all, isn’t it way too easy these days to think of a community or an individual somewhere in the world that has it significantly worse than you do?

Don’t complain; own up to your mistakes.

A few years ago, a U.S. political figure was mocked by many around the world for his habit of blaming others for what were essentially self-created hardships. To put it bluntly, he was a big baby—and just about everyone in the world knew it. In 2019, a massive balloon in the shape of an infant—complete with diaper and pin–of this particular politician bounced along in a variety of public spaces as part of various political demonstrations. A turbulent relationship between the world community and this international figure soon followed. Needless to say, not owning up to mistakes or refusing to accept blame will rarely get you far.

You’ve got this. Reflect on personal and professional dreams.

Here’s the underlying message to everything we’ve covered in this article: The mind is a powerful thing. By exerting a little discipline over your thoughts, you can affect your environment—and your happiness—in countless ways.

Similarly, your state of mind can help you achieve both personal and professional goals. It should come as no surprise that high achievers, from medal-earning Olympians to successful entrepreneurs, often visualize their dreams in their heads before attempting to implement them.

So, on a final note, take a moment to consider your dreams—you are worthy of them—and then chart a course to making them happen.