How To Change Your Outlook On Life: 7 No Bullsh*t Tips!

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When you’re experiencing something good, do you find yourself constantly bracing and waiting for things to go wrong?

Do you expect the worst in every situation, only to feel a strange sense of satisfaction when it actually comes to pass?

Are you tired of feeling cynicism and bleakness on a daily basis? Would you prefer to see the good things around you instead?

The fact that you’re looking up information on this topic means that you’ve already taken a huge step toward changing your outlook on life.

If you want to rewire your mind to a more positive outlook, here are some tips that may help you. Some are more mental and spiritual, others are physical. Depending on your personality and individual leanings, you should be able to mix and match a few of them to find an effective mechanism for change.

1. Trace the negativity back.

Whenever you feel yourself having a negative outlook on something, try to trace it back to its origins.

For example, do you find that you react negatively to a particular situation with a self-doubting narrative? Perhaps something like “nothing I do is ever good enough”?

The next time that happens, pause and try to determine where that’s coming from.

Whose voice instilled those thoughts in your mind initially? Oftentimes, people whose parents were very critical or harsh toward them in their youth will repeat the negative script to themselves throughout their lives.

Spite can be a powerful tool to prompt a change in your outlook. If the root of your negativity is a person from your past, you can set out to prove them wrong by choosing to be positive in situations where you’d currently be negative.

Your outlook is very dependent on your goals, life purpose, personal history, and personality. These all shape who you are. You cannot change your history, but you can look at it differently. Your personality is more flexible than you think. And your goals and life purpose are things you can determine.

2. Learn to see the silver lining.

The saying that “every cloud has a silver lining” might make your eyes roll, but it’s true in many circumstances. Sometimes the lessons are only noticeable in retrospect, after we’ve processed the initial event. But we might be able to see something beneficial in a bad experience straightaway if we look hard enough.

The key is to draw back from the sensory overload to glean greater perspective.

Let’s say that work is stressful and you have to manage a bunch of things that aren’t normally your responsibility. Yes, that sucks, but you’re also learning new skills that might prove beneficial to your career later down the line. And you’re developing coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.

Are you going through a bad breakup? Okay, this offers you the chance to meet someone with whom you connect better. Why not take it as an opportunity to start anew on many levels? Change your look, your wardrobe, even the area you live in. Clean slate and all.

3. Keep a gratitude journal.

A lot of people cringe at the thought of a gratitude journal, but you’d be amazed at how helpful these can be to process your thoughts and emotions.

Most people find it easiest to do their journaling shortly before bed to get the day’s events and your responses to those events out of your mind.

Turn off your phone, the TV, and any other distractions. Try to relax as much as possible. If it helps, you might consider dimming the lights, listening to some relaxing music or guided meditations, or even reading a chapter of a book.

When you’re ready, write down three things in your journal that you were grateful for today. These could range from achievements or “wins” of the day (like your boss recognizing a job well done), to a tiny thing that made you smile.

Even on a day that seemed awful, there will still be a few things to be grateful for. Let’s say you had a craptacular day in which everything got you down. You could still choose three things that brought you some measure of comfort, or didn’t let you down. These could include:

  • A comfortable bed to curl up in
  • Hot cups of tea
  • Time spent with pets
  • Managed to eat solid food
  • No strangers showed up at the door
  • The toilet is still working

See? There’s always something positive to appreciate. By journaling every single night, you’ll train your mind to focus more on positive things than negative ones.

4. Try visualization techniques.

If there’s something you’re striving for but you feel like you’re sabotaging your own efforts, try using some positive visualization techniques to shift your mindset.

One of these techniques is to visualize (or daydream) about what it would be like once you’ve achieved this goal. For example, if you’re dreaming of taking a vacation somewhere, envision yourself walking around the place where you want to go. Be really detailed about it: what you’re wearing, the foods you’re trying, the ground beneath your feet, and various sounds and scents that you’re immersed in.

If you’re not great at that kind of envisioning, then create a vision board to help you out. Cut out photos of your goal, and glue them onto a huge piece of cardboard that you’ve hung on the wall. Write down a list of steps that you will take as an action plan to achieve this goal.

Then, every time you complete one of those steps, reward yourself with a gold star or other sticker. These will mark your progress and keep you moving forward. Seeing tangible evidence of your progress can only help to encourage you.

Every time you feel discouraged, take a look at how far you’ve come. It’ll help you keep going.

5. Choose your company wisely.

Most people share (or even mimic) the behaviors of others around them. You may have noticed that close groups of friends often share the same mannerisms and phrases.

The same goes for their outlook on life. Negative people surround themselves with other negative people and vice versa for positive people.

Take an honest look at the people you associate with on a daily basis. Make a list of your family members, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. Next, make notes beside each name as to whether those people tend to have positive, pleasant things to say, or if they’re constantly complaining and critical.

It may not surprise you to discover that your social circle is largely comprised of people who always have something mean or unpleasant to say. We tend not to realize the extent of other people’s influence on us until we withdraw from their company, or immerse ourselves in different groups.

Then, all of a sudden we’re hit with the epiphany: “everyone around me is so down all the time!”

As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to be positive and enthusiastic when you’re surrounded by people who complain all the time. These folks often like to squash other people’s positivity by countering anything good they have to say with something awful.

Miserable people are often annoyed and unnerved when others around them are happy, so they try to bring them down.

Choose your company wisely. If you’re being consistently brought down and depressed by your peers, and they’re poisoning your own outlook on life, then it’s better to keep your distance.

Find a new social circle, and engage in activities and pursuits that bring you joy and a sense of achievement.

6. Pay attention to your body’s alerts.

Just like physical pain, a negative emotional mindset is a symptom and a pointer toward something that needs to be dealt with.

Feeling negatively about something can be seen as a positive: it’s a sign of your mind and body telling you where the issue is, and how to rectify it.

For example, if you start each day with a knot in your stomach because you just know that your work day is going to be complete crap, ask yourself why. Is it because you aren’t being challenged at work? Is your boss awful to you? Do you find that the work you’re doing is pointless?

Physical, emotional, and mental reactions happen for a reason. Determine what your reactions are trying to tell you so you can take change toward healing them.

7. Make the changes needed to bring you happiness.

Quite often, a negative outlook in life is caused by either an excess of something, or a lack thereof. When the most basic aspects of our daily lives bring us down, it’s difficult to see the good things going on around you.

In a situation where you may be working too much, see what you can do to reduce your workload. Take regular time away from screens, and take time to relax in nature. If you’re feeling antsy because you’re stationary a lot and not getting enough exercise, start a new routine.

Be very honest about all the aspects of your daily life and whether they’re bringing you joy, or bringing you down.

For example, many people stay in unfulfilling relationships for years. Sometimes it’s because they feel obliged to stay with their partner (or don’t want to hurt them), or because they’re afraid of being alone. But if you have to deal with someone who drives you crazy every single day, that’s going to take an immense toll on your overall well-being.

The same goes for if you can’t stand the decor in your living space, the area you live in, or your workplace.

You are not a tree. Sure, you may have roots here and there, but you can pick up and move elsewhere if your current situation is bringing you down. Quite often, a change of scenery can do absolute wonders for shifting your focus to the positive.

The key is to move into a new space with an open heart and mind, rather than bringing your expectations of negativity with you. A person who expects unkindness, despair, and failure will undoubtedly find it. In contrast, a person who moves into new spaces with the attitude that all kinds of good things may unfold is very likely to be delighted by the blessings they’ll receive.

Remember that forming a new outlook on life will take time. Up until today, you’ve been treading a path that’s very familiar to you. This has gotten you into a rut that you’re now trying to get out of, but it’ll be tempting to lean back into the familiar grooves again.

You’re taking steps into unknown territory, and things are going to progress slowly at first. Just know that before long, you’ll realize that you spent a full day without thinking negatively. Or you walked into a situation with neutrality and a willingness to respond to whatever ensued, rather than with trepidation, expecting the worst.

You can change your outlook, and by doing so, change your entire experience of the world around you.

Still not sure how to get a new outlook on life? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.

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About Author

Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.