12 ways to stay positive (even when life is tough)

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Life can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster, with its ups and downs, twists and turns.

The secret to enjoying the ride is all about maintaining positivity – reminding yourself that you’ll be alright in the end.

There are many ways to cultivate a “glass half-full” mindset that can help you navigate all of life’s hurdles, gain higher energy levels, and achieve enhanced well–being.

Remember: Positive thinking isn’t magic. It’s a skill that makes problems seem more manageable and less disheartening.

1) Allow yourself to have bad days

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to always be “on,” to be constantly happy, productive, and successful.

But that’s just not realistic. We’re only human. As the saying goes, “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”

You have to give yourself permission to have those not-so-great days as these are only natural.

Look at the bright side: These lows can make the highs feel even more rewarding.

We get a deeper appreciation for the good days and even develop a more critical eye for moments that make us feel good about ourselves.

These bad days help us build resilience. They teach us how to cope, adapt, and better handle whatever is thrown our way.

2) Practice gratitude

Gratitude is transformative.

When you focus on the things you’re grateful for, it helps you maintain a positive outlook on life and inevitably boosts your overall happiness.

You deviate from the negative thoughts. You take time to genuinely appreciate the people around you and even the little things they do.

I recommend starting a gratitude journal and answering the prompt “3 things you’re grateful for” every day.

I know it’s hard to feel grateful when nothing’s going your way.

That was me a while back. I just got laid off – freshly heartbroken – no money to pay next month’s rent.

So I decided to give the gratitude journal a try.

I would write down seemingly mundane things: a good meal, a beautiful sunset, a conversation with a friend.

I found myself feeling more hopeful and content, even in the midst of a quarter-life crisis.

3) Take a digital detox

In a hyper-connected virtual world, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the constant barrage of notifications, news, and viral videos.

It also doesn’t help when you’re constantly comparing yourself to Instagram models or to your friends who seem to always be on vacation.

A digital detox can work wonders for your mental health. It makes you step back and see the real world for what it actually is – one that is full of adventure, memories, and possibilities.

Reconnect with the people and activities that truly matter to you (admit it – mindlessly scrolling through social media isn’t one of them).

4) Treat yourself

Treating yourself can oftentimes feel a bit indulgent – especially when you always think that you deserve to splurge – but it actually plays a big role in your overall well-being.

You just need to find a balance.

For starters, list down your small pleasures (e.g., bag of chips, TV series, going out with friends, books) then make sure to sprinkle these throughout your weekly agenda.

Believe it or not, treating yourself builds self-esteem.

You’re sending a message to yourself that you’re worth it, and that you know how to prioritize your needs and wants.

This can be especially important during times when you’re drowning in self-doubt.

5) Try to keep some semblance of a self-care routine

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, which is why self-care is crucial for cultivating a positive mindset.

When you take time for yourself, both physically and mentally, you’re recharging your batteries and giving yourself a moment to your own thoughts.

Self-care activities include exercise, meditation, making coffee, indulging in a spa day, and taking a jog, among others.

One great benefit of a self-care routine is its positive impact on your relationships.

When you take care of yourself, you become better equipped to show up for others.

As they say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

6) Rekindle your hobbies and passions

Hobbies give your mind a break from daily worries, frustrations, and challenges.

These give you a healthy outlet that not only allows you to unwind but also fosters a sense of accomplishment.

One year into my corporate job, I started feeling burned out. All I knew was my morning commute. Grind. Deadlines. Meetings. Sign out. Rinse and repeat. I felt like a robot looping through the same code day in, day out.

I realized that I hadn’t made time for my hobbies in ages. So I decided to turn on my digital piano which had been collecting dust in the corner of my room.

I kid you not – as soon as I started playing, it was like a heavy weight was lifted.

7) Listen to music

Music has a profound effect on our emotions.

Whether it’s an upbeat tune that gets us dancing or a romance song that makes us believe in love, music can be an incredible mood booster.

There’s also nothing like the feeling of discovering a new artist that you can binge-listen to.

Music also has a way of connecting people. If your favorite artist is in town, go to their concert. If your partner loves music, make them a Spotify playlist.

If your friend is heartbroken, listen to breakup songs together, then remind each other why you don’t need a relationship to be happy.

8) Surround yourself with positive people

The company you keep can have a significant effect on your overall happiness. Energy is contagious.

When you’re always surrounded by positive, uplifting people, you end up imbibing those same traits.

Plus, it’s always nice to be surrounded by friends and family that offer encouragement and motivation during tough times.

Positive people also tend to be ultra-supportive.

They make you believe that you can conquer the world.

Their words of affirmation can help you look at the silver lining of every situation, as well as develop a proactive and solution-oriented approach.

9) Envision a worthwhile future

Having a clear vision of what your life will be like in the future can be incredibly motivating.

When you set goals and think about all your life possibilities, you get inspired to get moving; you get a sense of purpose and direction that guides you whenever you’re faced with setbacks.

Circling back to my story about burnout, I felt stuck in my career. I knew that I wasn’t living up to my full potential.

One night, after playing a few songs on the piano, I sat down with a pen and paper and started envisioning my dream daily routine.

I imagined a future where I was pursuing a meaningful career, engaging in my passions, and interacting with people that inspired me. I had clarity and finally, a renewed sense of motivation.

10) Be solution-oriented

Adopting a solution-oriented mindset helps you focus on answers and not dwell on the problem per se.

Put another way, you’re focusing on the present and future, not the past that you can no longer control.

Keep in mind that being solution-oriented is a skill.

You need to train yourself to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than obstacles to overcome.

Identify the root cause, brainstorm possible solutions (without judging feasibility yet), and develop an action plan.

Once you set the plan into motion, charge it to experience and see how it contributed to your well-being.

11) Ask for help when you need it

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

There’s a lot of value in recognizing that no man is an island. There will be times when you need to ask for help.

One example would be stress. You can ask for advice from other people who have been through your situation.

This way, you’re opening yourself up to new knowledge and perspectives that you may not have considered beforehand.

When you ask for help, you’re also demonstrating humility, trust, and vulnerability. You’re strengthening relationships by allowing others to feel valued and appreciated for what they have to say.

12) Take things one breath at a time

Life can get hectic. No doubt about that. With so many tasks, responsibilities, and chores, it’s not easy to become mindful and present.

So take things one breath at a time – remind yourself that even the most daunting goals can be tackled one step at a time.

This approach can have a calming effect on your mind, body, and of course, your overall happiness levels.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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