How to Be More Positive

Smiling African American woman attaching earring

Peter Griffith / Getty Images

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.

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.


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.

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.


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 people
    • Pursuing activities that bring you joy
    • Using positive self-talk 
    • Practicing gratitude
    • Looking 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. Watching how you talk to yourself, actively challenging your negative thoughts, and practicing gratitude are just a few techniques that may help.

9 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Monfort SS, Stroup HE, Waugh CE. The impact of anticipating positive events on responses to stress. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 2015;58:11-22. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2014.12.003

  2. van Agteren J, Iasiello M, Lo L et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of psychological interventions to improve mental wellbeing. Nat Hum Behav. 2021. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01093-w

  3. Marmolejo-ramos F, Murata A, Sasaki K, et al. Your face and moves seem happier when I smile. Exp Psychol. 2020;67(1):14-22. doi:10.1027/1618-3169/a000470

  4. Kross E, Bruehlman-Senecal E, Park J, Burson A, Dougherty A, Shablack H, Bremner R, Moser J, Ayduk O. Self-talk as a regulatory mechanism: how you do it matters. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2014;106(2):304-24. doi:10.1037/a0035173

  5. Cosentino AC, Castro Solano A. The high five: Associations of the five positive factors with the big five and well-being. Front Psychol. 2017;8:1250. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01250

  6. Park N, Peterson C, Szvarca D, Vander Molen RJ, Kim ES, Collon K. Positive psychology and physical health: Research and applications. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;10(3):200-206. doi:10.1177/1559827614550277

  7. Boyraz G, Lightsey OR Jr. Can positive thinking help? Positive automatic thoughts as moderators of the stress-meaning relationship. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2012;82(2):267-77. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01150.x

  8. De Neve JE, Diener E, Tay L, Xuereb C. The Objective Benefits of Subjective Well-Being. Social Science Research Network.

  9. 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, MSEd
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."