How to be positive may be easier than you think.
You likely know all the great natural healing benefits of adopting a positive attitude. People who are more positive (optimistic) feel better, have better relationships, tend to be more creative and resilient, have more success, better health, and live longer too.
The science of the new positive psychology proves that anyone can learn how to be positive and provides the guidance to help you do it.
How To Be Positive By Increasing The Positivity Ratio
Scientist, Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD, discovered a “tipping point” where the amount of positive emotions compared to negative emotions you feel “Tips” you over to being a happier, more positive person. She calls this tipping point the positivity ratio (3:1)—experiencing 3 positive to 1 negative emotions over time.
“Tipping point” is a term scientists use to indicate the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new development or state. An example of a tipping point is the temperature at which water turns to ice—zero degrees Celsius.
“The difference between languishing and flourishing shows similar properties. If we ‘warm up’ the emotional climate of our life by increasing your positivity ratio above the critical point, you’ll begin to flourish,” says Fredrickson.
You can use the positivity ratio for how to be positive by finding out where your ratio is now by completing the on-line Positivity Self Test (it only takes 2 minutes).
Your score provides a snapshot of how your emotions of the past day combine to create your ratio. You can also use this self test to track your progress as you use the how to be positive tips that follow.
Tips for How to Be More Positive
1. Be Heartfelt
Being heartfelt means slowing down so you can connect with your true nature (symbolized by your heart).
Too often the pressures of modern life keep you focused outside of yourself. You end up focused on someone else’s expectations, your to-do list, or the clock instead of how you feel and what you truly want and need.
Over time you become numb to your heartfelt feelings. How to be positive involves un-numbing your heart.
Slow down and make time to reconnect with your heart. Take time to breathe, reconnect with yourself and all the beauty and goodness around you.
How to become positive is not about denying negative feelings. When hard things happen it’s healthy to feel bad about it for a while. Negativity can spur you to make needed improvements in your life.
That being said, gratuitous negativity, negativity that you get stuck in and don’t use to improve is harmful for you.
2. Replace negative thinking habits with positive thinking habits.
Much stress and emotional suffering comes from the way you perceive things which may not be accurate.
Use the techniques of cognitive therapy to become aware of these perceptions and “automatic” thoughts that accompany them.
Once aware you can challenge them and change them to serve you in how to be positive.
3. Grow Gratitude
A Cherokee Indian once told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people’s head:
“My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a while and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.” ~Anonymous
One of the most powerful tips on how to be positive is to focus on what is going well in your life—to feed the “good wolf.” Look for the good things that happen to you or are around you. Try keeping a journal. Write down a few things every day that you feel thankful for.
It doesn’t have to be a big event. In fact, experts say it’s usually the more mundane moments that are the most meaningful in our lives, says Deborah Norville in Thank You Power.
Of the 24 attributes that typify happy people—the most vibrant ones being love, hope, and gratitude—gratitude is the easiest to cultivate.
4. Apply Your Strengths
Applying your strengths takes you to what you do best—where your passion lies. Identify those things that make you feel good about yourself, that you enjoy doing and make more room for them in your life. Match them with your work, play, and leisure.
If you are unsure of your strengths, ask those around you what they perceive as your strengths, or take the free “VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire” offered by the University of Pennsylvania.
5. Connect with Others
Enjoying good social relations is so important to your flourishing that scientists call it a necessary condition. People become more positive by being with others versus being alone. Make room for good social relations every day, be it with your spouse, family, and/or friends.
If you are not naturally outgoing, begin by acting engaged and interested in others. Scientists find that by simply acting in this way you will extract more positivity from the relationship. Cultivating loving concern for others works too.
6. Connect with Nature
Being in nature changes your perspective, you can see further, you can appreciate nature’s beauty and the natural rhythms of life. You naturally know how to be positive in appreciating that you, too, are a part of the miracle of life.
Studies found that people who walk in nature do better on tests involving memory or attention, have more physical and mental energy, and a greater sense of well-being. Patients in hospitals even tend to recover faster when they can see trees from their windows.
All it takes is 5 to 20 minutes, though longer forays in nature may produce greater benefits.
7. Develop a Meditation Habit
Meditation is a disciplined process that guides you away from habitual, restless thoughts, afflictive emotions, worry and stress; and toward peace, happiness, and your “true self.” Visit the ”Meditation Techniques” article and choose a practice to begin today.
The science of the new positive psychology proves that anyone can become more positive and provides the guidance to help you do it. Try just one of these 7 tips for how to become more positive to get started today.
Sources and Resources
Fredrickson, Barbara L.,Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life (New York:Three Rivers Press, 2009).
Norville, Deborah, Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You(Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007).
University of Pennsylvania, Authentic Happiness, “Questionnaires Center,”at http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/questionnaires.aspx.
University of Pennsylvania, Authentic Happiness, “Resource Center,” at http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/resources.aspx.