Happiness How to Be More Positive By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 01, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD Medically reviewed by Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD LinkedIn Twitter Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Peter Griffith / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents How to Be More Positive Characteristics Benefits Potential Pitfalls Can You Be Too Positive? Frequently Asked Questions Positivity Positivity involves maintaining an optimistic outlook on life. It means being cheerful and hopeful, even when you are facing challenges. Positive people look for the good in every situation and are grateful for what they have. They tend to see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. Being positive doesn't mean you never feel negative emotions or struggle with pessimistic thoughts. Everyone has days when they feel down or discouraged. The difference is that positive thinkers don't let their negative emotions control them. They don't dwell on their problems but instead focus on finding solutions. They don't get caught up in negative thoughts and always try to look on the bright side of life. How to Be More Positive Fortunately, there are strategies you can do to gently guide yourself toward becoming more positive in your daily life. If you want to be more positive, there are a few things you can do. Practice Gratitude Make a list of things you're grateful for. Write in a gratitude journal and jot down a few things that made you feel happy or grateful. These don’t have to be original or earth-shattering observations—it could be something as simple as a beautiful, sunny day or your cat nuzzling against your hand while trying to work. By focusing on the good things in your life, you’ll naturally start to shift into a more positive frame of mind. What Is Gratitude? Savor Anticipation Find something to look forward to each day. Research has found that having something positive to look forward to helps to improve mood and reduce stress. Whether visiting your favorite bookstore, enjoying a cup of coffee with your friends, taking an evening walk in the park, or reading your favorite book, make sure to find something to look forward to each day. This will help keep you positive even when things aren't going your way. Practice Mindfulness Mindfulness is the practice that involves fully focusing on the present moment, including your thoughts, sensations, and environment. It can have a variety of benefits, including improving your awareness of your thoughts and moods. When you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths and focus on the present moment. Notice how your body feels and what sounds you can hear. Once you learn to identify your thoughts, you can then work to actively replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. Smile Even if you're not feeling happy, forcing yourself to smile can actually make you feel better. Smiling helps release chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy and relaxed. Researchers have found that not only does smiling help induce positive feelings, it also helps people view the world from a more positive point of view. So next time you're feeling down, try smiling for a few minutes and see how it can help you feel more optimistic. Use Positive Self-Talk The things that you say to yourself influence how to think about yourself and the world, and self-criticism is bound to undermine your ability to look on the bright side. Researchers have found that switching from negative self-talk to positive self-talk can help improve emotions and reduce stress. Characteristics of Positive People Being positive doesn’t mean only thinking happy thoughts all of the time. Even the most optimistic of people experience sadness, discouragement, and anger. However, positive people generally have the following characteristics: Positive People Optimistic Grateful Finds solutions Helpful Compassionate Happy Upbeat Humorous Negative People Pessimistic Ungrateful Ruminates on the problems Unhelpful Apathetic Unhappy Cynical Serious Benefits of Being Positive There are many benefits to being positive, both mentally and physically. Some of the most notable benefits include: Better mental well-being: Positive people tend to have better overall mental health. They're less likely to experience anxiety or depression. They are also more resilient in the face of life’s challenges. During difficult times, being more positive can help create a buffer against the negative effects of stress. Increased happiness: Positivity is also linked to greater happiness and subjective well-being. Positive people can find joy in their daily lives and are not as easily affected by stress or negative emotions. Better physical health: Research suggests that being more positive is associated with better physical health. Positive people are less likely to die from cardiovascular problems and live longer than their pessimistic counterparts. Stronger relationships: Positive people are less likely to have conflicts with others and have healthier, more fulfilling interpersonal relationships. How to Know If You Are In a Healthy Relationship Potential Pitfalls of Being Less Positive While there are many benefits to being positive, there are also a few potential pitfalls to consider. Experiencing negative thoughts can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. It is also much more difficult to take care of yourself physically when you have a more pessimistic point of view. In addition to feeling more stressed in general, negativity often means neglecting health behaviors that play an important part in overall health, including eating nutritious foods and regular exercise. Because negative people are more difficult to spend time with, being less positive may also negatively impact relationships. This can lead to loneliness and isolation, contributing to even more negativity. Being less positive can also make it difficult to feel motivated to achieve your goals. Negativity, particularly when directed toward yourself, impairs your ability to set goals and find the drive to pursue them. It can undermine your sense of self-efficacy and leave you feeling as if nothing you do will make a difference. It is also important to note that, like positivity, negativity can also be contagious. Your thoughts and moods may follow suit when you're around someone negative. This can lead to a cycle of negativity that's difficult to break free from. Can You Be Too Positive? If the need to be positive all the time leads you to ignore or deny the existence of negative emotions, it might mean that you are being too positive. Known as toxic positivity, this tendency causes people to feel shamed and unsupported when they are struggling with darker emotions or difficult experiences. Summary Being positive has many benefits, such as increased happiness, stronger relationships, and greater success in life. However, there are also a few potential pitfalls, such as depression and anxiety, negative physical health effects, and difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. To be more positive, spend time with positive people, do things that make you happy, avoid negative thoughts and emotions, be grateful for what you have, and focus on the good in every situation. Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions How can I stay more positive? Some tactics that may help you stay positive include:Spending time with positive peoplePursuing activities that bring you joyUsing positive self-talk Practicing gratitudeLooking for the good in different situations Why is being positive so important? Having an optimistic outlook is connected to a number of physical and mental health benefits. Positive people are better able to deal with their stress, are more resistant to illness, and enjoy greater longevity. How can I stop being so negative? Shifting to a more positive mindset takes time, but learning how to identify negative thoughts is an important first step. When you notice these thoughts, take a moment to actively challenge them. What evidence contradicts them? Are there other explanations that might also be equally valid? How can you change your thoughts about the situation to feel more positive? As you practice, you will find it much easier to see things with a more optimistic perspective over time. A Word From Verywell Some people seem to have a natural knack for looking on the bright side, while for others it takes a bit more work. If you find that you tend to dwell on negative thoughts, there are strategies can you use to help be more positive. 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Buigues C, Queralt A, De Velasco JA, et al. Psycho-social factors in patients with cardiovascular disease attending a family-centred prevention and rehabilitation programme: Euroaction model in Spain. Life. 2021;11(2):89. doi:10.3390/life11020089 By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Happiness Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.