Keep a Positive Mindset and You May Live Longer
Happy people aren’t richer, more popular, or have perpetually good luck. Instead, they have a positive mindset. They focus on the good things—in situations, in other people, and in themselves—and embrace challenges as an opportunity to grow and be grateful.
So if you want to be happy every day, you have to choose and create happiness. This helps you deal with adversity and be more in control of your life. No person or situation can take your joy away! P.S. Science shows you’ll live a longer life too!
In this article, we talk about techniques for developing a positive mindset, starting from the key traits that help build a more positive perspective and approach to life, to practical tips you can start using today.
5 characteristics of a positive mindset
What does a positive mindset actually look like? Positive Psychology identifies these specific traits or characteristics.
Think of these as your “emotional muscles” that help in developing a positive mindset and sustaining it even in troubled times. As you go through the list, give yourself a score for each trait:
5 – Always
4 – Frequently
3 – Sometimes
2 – Rarely
1 – Never
Then, consciously cultivate the areas where you feel you have a low score. This is one way to concretely build a positive mindset, and—using the earlier muscle analogy—make you emotionally, mentally and spiritually strong.
- What it is: Is the glass half empty, or half full? Real optimists actually see it in a different way: the water is always flowing. Even if a situation seems “empty” now, they believe that things can improve.
- How to develop it: When a crisis strikes, focus on what you can do, and what can help you. Make a list of opportunities, personal strengths, sources of support, helpful information.
- What it is: Let go of things you cannot change or control, such as other people’s opinions. Acknowledge mistakes you have made, forgive yourself, and learn from the experience.
- How to develop it: Inability to let go often causes feelings of regret, guilt, disappointment, resentment, or anger. Ask yourself: “Is this harmful, and why? How can I reframe this feeling so it is more helpful?” For example, turn regret into motivation to change, or anger at an ex into a choice to set better boundaries in relationships.
- What it is: Stress is part of life, so resilience—or the ability to bounce back from adversity—is critical to developing a positive mindset.
- How to develop it: According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is rooted in self-care, nurturing relationships with other people, and having a purpose in life. In short: love yourself, receive love, and do something you love. This can give you strength and hope even when you feel down.
- What it is: The most powerful words in life are “Thank you”. Acknowledging blessings not only makes you feel happier and content, but it affirms the believe that people are kind, and the universe is abundant.
- How to develop it: Keep a gratitude journal, and write down 5 things you’re thankful for every day. Celebrate and savor life’s simple pleasures—a warm cup of tea, a hug. And share the positivity with others: say thank you, give compliments, and do small and random acts of kindness.
- What it is: The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness as being more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and mental images in each moment. It can help you briefly withdraw from the everyday stress (planning, problem solving), and over time, can reveal negative patterns or self-critical beliefs.
- How to develop it: A mindfulness practice can include meditation (whether it’s a sitting meditation or a walking meditation), journal writing, prayer, or light exercises with repetitive movements and deep breathing such as yoga or tai chi.
Benefits of developing a positive mindset
A positive mindset can have a positive impact on all areas of your life. Nurture it every day, and you’ll soon see a real difference in the way you feel, what you can accomplish, and how you deal with different situations.
- Better stress management. The positive coping mechanisms can help you deal with problems in a healthy, productive way. You’re not emotionally triggered or easily swayed by setbacks, and your mindfulness techniques and ability to enjoy simple joys can help fight burnout.
- Better health. Stress has been linked to numerous chronic conditions, ranging from diabetes to depression. It can also lower the immune system, cause insomnia, and affect appetite and energy levels. By developing a positive mindset, you actually feel physically stronger and healthier too. This can lead to a longer, fuller life.
- Stronger, healthier relationships. Instead of relying on others to “fill the void” inside you, your positivity helps you feel whole and complete. This helps you give more to others, and also receive their love and affection without unrealistic expectations.
- Reach personal goals. Developing a positive mindset can help you succeed in anything you put your mind to—whether it’s weightloss, academic or professional success, or financial stability. You know what you want, and you have the passion and perseverance to get it.
- Unshakeable contentment. Even if you’re driven and have a strong desire to achieve, you’re also grateful for what you have right now. Your happiness doesn’t depend on what you can get, but is an intrinsic part of who you are.
- Positive impact on others. Happiness is contagious. Your positive mindset can inspire, encourage and motivate others.
Simple tricks for developing and keeping a positive mindset, starting today
Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight. It requires reflection and identifying negative patterns, and a commitment to change your perspective and how you react to situations.
But don’t be overwhelmed—you can do this, one step at a time. Here are some things you can already start doing right now to slowly shift towards a more positive, more productive, and more peaceful life.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Look for friends or family who share these attitudes and values. Conversely, distance yourself from the naysayers and energy vampires who can lower your mood or even make you doubt yourself.
- Make a list of affirmations. This is one of the easiest ways to train your brain to think positively. Whenever your inner voice starts complaining or criticizing, recite the affirmations. You can put these in a notebook, turn them into a laptop or phone screen saver. You can also find podcasts or videos that recite affirmations, which you can play whenever you feel down.
- Make a vision board. If you can see it, you can believe it…and you can achieve it! Place images that represent the life you want on a cardboard or bulletin board, and place somewhere you can see regularly.
More Tricks to Try
- Have a daily “positivity” ritual. For example, write in your gratitude journal and then listen to a meditation before going to bed every night. Or, follow several positive thinking podcasts and listen to them during your morning walk.
- Do one act of kindness a day. When you make others feel good, you feel good too. Go out of your way to “share the love” to at least one person a day. For example, write a thank you note to a co-worker, or buy a homeless person a hot meal.
Choosing a positive mindset is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself. You deserve to be happy, and that starts from choosing to be happy.