Are you tired of being negative all your life? Have you been trying to change some important people because it’s not only good for them, but also for the love of God, good for you, too? Do you cringe whenever people talk about how you should be damn positive all the time? Well, here’s another positive post for you!

What’s interesting about this positivity and negativity circus is that the very bane of it is that you don’t know which is positive and otherwise. Especially if you’ve been raised by negative people or those that claim that they’re simply being “realistic.” What the hell does realistic even mean? Does being realistic mean treating this world as if it’s a rotten and hopeless world filled with people born without a purpose but to be your exclusive cause of misery? Am I being negative here or edgy or what? Hey, Ethan, this is supposed to be a positive post!

Sigh.

Okay. Truth be told, I claim to be a 78.13% negative person (or cynical, or edgy, or whatever you want to call it). And I don’t really know why that’s the case (for now, I hope). But another truth be told, I also want to be more positive in general, or at least bring that metric down to 50%. Because somehow I enjoy being negative, for some reason, like survival perhaps. And because somehow, positivity doesn’t always mean being that bubbly and annoying person you’re supposed to be like.

But enough edginess now.

Even though I’m at 78.13%, I am proud to say I’m still an optimist. One just got to do the work.

Being positive—as in a positive outlook in life no matter your personality or preferences—isn’t that bad, especially when it lowers the risk of heart attacks, thus making your life longer, and is correlated with success.

But how do you do that?

1. Give your self-esteem a high priority.

First off, regaining a positive outlook in life might not be easy. Just think low self-esteem. Yes it may mean a horrible event in your distant past, but see it as it is—you may be having low self-esteem.

Studies have shown that self-esteem is crucial to one’s happiness. You can basically do anything if you have a healthy dose of it.

Just think about it this way: you have to be okay with yourself first. Without having anyone telling you why you should. Without any accomplishments you could use to toot your horn. Just accepting who you are and that you’re here to figure out stuff for yourself.

It’s so hard to navigate in the wilderness without really knowing yourself first, and protecting your self-esteem from otherwise nonsensical threats.

A healthy self-esteem is needed for you to be able to embrace positivity, thus helping you create or do amazing things.

2. Everything going to suck, but that’s okay.

A nice way to be positive, right?

But this is just another way of saying you should expect the worst in about anything, really. This might be more hardcore than “no expectations” (of which I’m a fan) but it’s a great exercise for you to see things the way they are. Because life is just like that, but what are you going to do about it?

I’m slightly a fan of Stoicism too. I remember a method of practicing a kind of terrible scenario that might come into your life. It goes something like this: Imagine for a moment that the most important person in your life just died. Let’s say, your first child. What else could be worse than that? How could you possibly take your life back after such a catastrophic event?

As I said, it’s just practice. But this practice will make you realize the few but important things and people in your life that the rest will seem superficial. How could you chase things that are only supposed to make you look more pretty or more powerful? Does that make you happy, or bitter? Check your priorities.

And then, if you know how to appreciate each moment, no matter what life throws at you (like my horrible example above), you’ll see the little nuisances of life as nothing more but simply a part of it.

You’ll then appreciate that rejection is something to be celebrated for—because you’ve learned, and really, it’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. You’ll also find challenge with the fact that life isn’t supposed to be easy. No matter who you are or what you have, it’s not supposed to be easy. Thus you’ll give up your sense of entitlement as if the world owed you anything in the first place.

Shit happens, but I bet beauty and greatness also do as much as shit does. Why bother becoming part of the ugly side when it’s already a given?

3. When you feel that negative forces are starting to drown you, find inspiration.

This one’s easy, because we’re already living in a negative place. Makes you more alert, too.

The next time a toxic person calls you up again just to talk gossip and shit, or next time you’re stuck in a waiting room with the news on (which all the other people are excited to watch), or you see narcissists posing in their “right angle” for The Gram, take it as a sign that you probably need some mind-detoxing. One way to do that is by taking in information that rather inspires you.

That could mean success stories, whether with articles or videos or seminars. Choose your flavor. Information is so easy nowadays. You can identify the good and okay from the bad. It may take time with the identifying of course, but if you’re here reading this article, then I bet you can find anything!

It’s so easy to “empathize” with your relative or friend that complains a lot because apparently they have the worst problems in the solar system, but beware—you can always stop, disengage, and learn from people that would make you a better human instead.

space wow

4. Speaking of complaining, just find solutions instead, willya?

Or please, complain about it just once. Or once a week. And then once a month. Especially if you have only one person to complain to.

Complainers don’t realize three things: that something will most probably take time, that there is a solution, and that they have to find that solution.

Do you now understand why it’s so convenient to just complain? Of course it’s fun to complain! Especially if you do it with your complaining friends! And especially if nobody else hears it but yourselves. It’s the reason complaining is the go-to stress release.

But does it make you feel better? Or does it make your ill will even worse as if you’re just waiting for the right time? Right time for what?

On the other hand, how can solving problems not do good to the world? How can being the person that fixes stuff not spread positivity and inspiration? How can helping others, by way of solving common problems, not help bring out the best in others as well?

Even the most negative person (or at least more negative than me) might be caught off-guard if you show them you’re willing to be part of the solution instead.

5. You don’t have to quit (yet?)—but you must take a rest.

When you’re tired and have been trying to retain your focus for so long, just stop what you’re doing and go take a rest. Hell, get some long sleep.

Of course your mileage may vary, but you have to find a way to unplug yourself from the routine. This is for your sanity, and breaks are part of a healthy routine, anyway.

It brings us to the question that might sound sappy but is kind of philosophical: “What is the kind of work you’re willing to do?” This elicits other questions like, “What are you willing to compromise?” and, “What are your values?”

Because there’s always some sort of compromise, whether they’re values or possessions or people.

So why are rests important? Simply put: you’re not a robot. You can’t operate “forcedly,” like in a job, continuously and efficiently pretending that you’re always fine inside, aka you’re not dead inside. From a routine that requires a lot from you and exhausts you, you need to take rests, like a body shutdown, and keep in check your wellbeing.

Ever wonder why you always hear about “doing work you love”? Because it almost always does not happen! Too many people hate theirs, but at least you have to look for one that you least dislike, somehow, or that brings out the better problems you like solving, somehow.

There’s always one for you. One you could live with. Found your dream job? You’re lucky, then. Take care of it.

Just the same, however, a positive attitude entails taking care of yourself. Rests are underrated. And while we’re at it, as I always say, include some physical exercise, three to four times a week.

6. The world is a neutral place.

What the heck does that even mean?

Okay, hear me out.

Like I said earlier, there are always opposites wherever you go. Like Yin and Yang. There’s good, there’s bad. There’s beauty, there’s abomination. There are good memories, there are bad.

Perhaps we should talk about good and bad memories, eh? How about some traumas or ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)?

I won’t say it’s all simple like a switch. However, understand that just the same, bad events might have happened in your past, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be amazing ones to come. You must understand and accept that it isn’t your fault, it’s not (totally) others’ fault, and you can do something about your situation right now.

It’s just how it is. Something bad happened, but something good also will. And maybe a lot of good already did—you just didn’t notice them. Why? Because humans are likely to remember the negative more than the positive. But although they’re messing with your head, you must not neglect the reality that the world is a place of both good and bad…and that they cancel out.

Given that case, how would you rather live your life?

A Paradox

I’m always reminded of it, from my favorite book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

A positive attitude doesn’t mean you must be having a positive experience, as you expected, all the time. Perhaps this is the reason you can’t develop a continuous and intentional positive attitude.

There are no shortcuts indeed. But training yourself to be positive always requires some sort of challenge. If you think you’re not up for it, take it slowly. Challenge yourself slowly first. But you have to learn. Because in the far future you wouldn’t want to break simply because you think you can’t do it. A positive attitude could save you.

(Image Credits: Salomé Watel, NASA)

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