It’s no coincidence that a positive mental attitude is a common characteristic amongst successful people.
Think about it, do you know of any successful people who have a negative mental attitude? Probably not many.
Most successful people have worked very hard to achieve their goals. They have overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges to get to where they are in life. Some have faced bigger problems than we’ll ever know. But they kept pursuing their goals and eventually accomplished them.
How did they manage to do that despite their challenges? If you look into it, you’ll find out their mental attitude was extremely positive.
If you’ve been struggling with making progress in a specific area of your life, fulfilling your dreams, or sticking with basic self-improvement habits, keep reading to see how improving your mental attitude may be the solution you need to succeed.
A positive mental attitude: what it is and is not.
A positive mental attitude means approaching life and all the situations and challenges you’ll face with optimism. When you have a positive mindset, you look at the bright side of things, you look for solutions.
You expect positive results or look for the silver lining, no matter the situation or problem. Having a positive mental attitude is believing you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.
One should note, however, that having a positive mental attitude does not mean ignoring glaring problems and pretending everything is okay. A positive mental attitude is not toxic positivity. When you have a positive mental attitude, you acknowledge the situation while focusing on what you can do to change it.
You don’t dwell on how bad things are or focus on what’s wrong with you, others, or the situation. That’s what happens when you have a negative mental attitude. A negative mindset puts you in a frame of mind where you’re always angry and overwhelmed because of life’s ups and downs. This mindset makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be happy.
Rather, when you have a positive mental attitude, you look for solutions. You take ownership of the problem, learn from it, and look for ways to resolve it. Then you move on to your next task.
Benefits of a positive mental attitude.
A positive mental attitude can help you achieve your goals and be more successful, confident, and engaged at work. You are better able to overcome challenges because you maintain an optimistic outlook on life even when things get tough or difficult.
At work, a positive mental attitude makes you more productive and efficient. It can even help increase your performance and confidence. Because positivity is contagious, others gravitate toward you, which helps improve your relationships, both professional and personal.
In general, with a positive mental attitude, you are happier overall. You see the good in life and focus on what you can do instead of obsessing over what you can’t do.
A positive mental attitude can even impact your health. A study from 2004 to 2012, on 70,000 women, found that those who were optimistic had a lower risk of dying from major illnesses like heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, infection, respiratory diseases, and more.
Your mental attitude affects almost every aspect of your life. The benefits of having a positive one are countless.
The impact of having a negative mental attitude.
It’s important we know how our minds work and the impact our thoughts can have on our overall health. The effect of having a negative attitude is more than just you being in a bad mood.
A negative mental attitude can lead to much more serious mental and physical health challenges, such as depression. It can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Aside from the negative impact on your health, it also severely impedes your success in life. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can‘t—you‘re right.”
If you think you can’t, nothing and no one will be able to overcome that mindset. With your mindset, you determine your success or failure, even before you start.
Can you change your attitude?
Your attitude is a choice.
While you cannot control everything that happens to you in life, you can certainly control the way you react. You get to decide whether your attitude will be positive or negative.
The people who will struggle with this are the people who struggle to take ownership of their lives. They see themselves as a victim of their circumstances. Life is happening to them.
When you take ownership of your life, you realize that you are not as powerless as you once believed. You have a lot more control than you previously thought.
Do not let external factors decide how you are going to feel or react. Take back the power over your emotions and your attitude.
If your attitude was negative yesterday or five minutes ago, right now choose to change it.
20 tips for having a positive mental attitude:
Changing your attitude isn’t going to be easy. Your negative mental attitude has probably been with you for a long time or you’ve recently been through some challenging times.
If you’re ready to put in the hard work, you can change your attitude.
No matter your circumstances, you can start working on changing your attitude right now.
Below are some tips to help you change your mental attitude:
1. Accept yourself.
Be yourself. Don’t change who you are just to satisfy other people.
It’s okay if your thoughts and feelings are different than others—that doesn’t mean they’re wrong or bad. You just have different perspectives.
Be true to who you are. Don’t behave in ways that are not authentic to your true self just to make other people happy.
Instead of trying so hard to be who you aren’t, make peace with yourself.
Stop wondering how others see you. If they change how they feel about you or look at you differently because you are choosing to be your authentic self, then they are not the people for you. And you should know that now instead of later.
At least now, you can look for people who accept you for who you are.
2. Listen to music.
Music can improve your mood and put you in a better frame of mind. When you’re feeling upset or just in a negative headspace, turn on your favorite tunes.
Everyone has that one album or song that just makes them happy. Once you hear that familiar beat, your toes start tapping, your hips start shaking, with your head nodding along to the song. Before you know it, you’re dancing (or trying to) and rocking out without a care in the world.
Don’t underestimate the power of listening to your favorite music when you’re in a funk. Some songs just put you in a better mood from the first few chords.
Studies suggest that even listening to sad songs can make you feel better. Sad songs can trigger memories that help distract you from what’s currently stressing you out, therefore acting as a mood enhancer.
The next time you’re feeling negative, turn on some music. Your brain will absorb the lyrics and pick up on the beat, which in turn will help put you in a better frame of mind.
3. Try deep breathing exercises.
When you’re stressed and anxious, your breathing is shallow and erratic. Deep breathing exercises can help you relax, focus, and generally feel calmer in tense situations. It has even been shown to help improve your quality of sleep and your body’s production of melatonin.
When you’re in a high-stress situation or struggling to settle down to sleep, try a deep belly breathing exercise like the one below:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position with one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, about an inch above your belly button.
- Take a deep breath through your nose, using only your diaphragm. To do this, make sure the hand on your chest stays still while the one on your belly rises and falls with your breath.
- Once you’re breathing with your diaphragm, start counting your breaths. Count each time you breathe in, then think the word “out” as you breathe out (think “1, out, 2, out, 3, out…”).
- Do this for a total of 10 breaths counting from 1 to 10. Then do another 10 breaths counting from 10 to 1.
- Then breathe at your own pace as you usually would. But concentrate on using only your diaphragm. Let your hands rest in your lap or at your side for a minute before you move on to your next activity.
Try deep breathing exercises when you’re having a hard time falling asleep or throughout the day when you’re feeling under pressure.
4. Check your diet.
Your physical health affects your mental health and vice versa. If you’re not getting what your body needs to work optimally, you can’t expect to have a positive mental attitude. Your brain isn’t getting what it needs to function properly.
A poor diet can aggravate stress and even lead to depression. While a balanced diet gives you the nutrients you need so you can focus on being happier and more positive.
If you’re struggling with your mental attitude, check your diet and your general fitness. Are you getting enough exercise? Enough sleep?
These factors also affect your overall health.
So, talk to your doctor. See a nutritionist. Make sure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
5. Don’t resist change.
Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same for long.
Learn to embrace change. Because the truth is, change will always happen, regardless of your attitude toward it. Things will continue to evolve.
Change can be positive or negative. If you resist all change, you’re also saying no to all the positive change that could come your way. You’re saying no to the change that initially looks bad but is actually for your own good.
Change can be scary. Not knowing how everything will turn out can be terrifying. But that’s also part of the beauty of life. Today your life could be a dumpster fire. Tomorrow, everything could change and you’re living your best life.
Just know that whatever challenge change may bring, you have the skills, knowledge, and strength to deal with it.
6. Use positive language.
Change the way you talk about yourself. You are not a failure, you’re learning a lesson.
Change the way you talk about challenges. When presented with a situation that you feel is beyond your capabilities, don’t say “I can’t…” Instead, say “I’ll figure it out.”
The way we frame unpleasant situations matters a lot. For example, on Monday morning, you wake up early for work but wish you could sleep in. Instead of saying “Ugh…I have to go to work,” say “I get to go to work and make a living.”
Initially, it won’t feel like much has changed. But, over time, you’ll find yourself feeling more positive about yourself and your ability to handle challenges.
Words can be used to build up or tear down. Sadly, we often use our words to tear ourselves down.
By using positive language, you help yourself be more positive.
7. Change your views on failure.
The fact that you have failed is not a cause for despair. Everyone fails at one time or another. Even the most successful people have fallen flat on their faces a few times.
Failure is a part of life.
As children, we stumble, tumble, and hurt ourselves as we learn how to walk. But we keep at it. Why? Because failure—that is, not walking—isn’t an option. At that young age, we know we have to learn how to walk. So, we wipe our tears, get up, and do it all over again.
Until one day, we stumble a little less. We don’t fall as much. And eventually, we start walking as if we’ve been doing it for years.
We could learn a lot from children about failure. They don’t let one tumble or mistake derail them from learning how to walk, read, or do any of the many things they’re learning.
Instead of giving up, they learn from their mistakes.
Embrace failure like a child would. Learn from your mistakes and make better decisions in the future.
8. Use the “mirror technique.”
The “mirror technique” is a simple way to boost your mood. Every time you pass a mirror, say something positive about yourself.
If the only time you pass a mirror is when you get ready in the morning or when you’re going to bed at night, change it up to whenever you pass a shiny or reflective surface.
Every time you pass, pause, smile, and say something nice.
This technique will help you boost your self-esteem, making you feel good about yourself and what you see in the mirror.
9. Start journaling.
Journaling is a great way to get in touch with your emotions so you can identify what you want out of life. The act of writing down how you feel can help you understand why you’re feeling the way you do. This allows you to have better self-awareness. Then you can make more positive decisions for your life.
As journaling improves your ability to recognize your feelings, it also increases your ability to manage stress. This ultimately helps you focus more on the positive aspects of your life.
Journaling can even be an outlet for you to express yourself creatively.
If you’re not sure what to journal about, below are options you can use daily to improve your mental attitude:
- Gratitude journal – Think of people, moments, or things that you are grateful for. Write them down in your journal and express your gratitude for those experiences. “I’m grateful for…”
- Pleasure journal – A pleasure journal is similar to a gratitude journal in that you’re focusing on the positive aspects of your day. But with a pleasure journal, you’re writing about the things that gave you pleasure during the day. This prompt is solely focused on things that made you happy.
Journaling consistently has many benefits. But it also works when you’re not as consistent as you’d like to be. So if you miss a day (or two) here and there, don’t give up. Keep at it.
10. Be present.
Being in the moment and focusing on what you are doing is a great way to have a positive mental attitude. Usually, when we are caught up in our feelings, obsessing over a stressful situation, or ruminating over negative thoughts, we’re thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
We completely fail to enjoy our present situation. While this can sometimes be helpful in that it helps us prepare for an upcoming event or helps us learn from our past mistakes, it also distracts us from the present.
It’s important we stay focused on what’s happening right now because it ensures we don’t miss out on the good that’s happening in our lives. Being present also helps us to be better decision-makers because we’re not thinking about a future event that may or may not happen. Our minds are fully focused on what’s happening now and not distracted by regret or anxiety.
11. Avoid toxic positivity.
One of the problems with the positivity movement is that it puts a positive spin on everything. Every situation or behavior, positive or negative, is lumped together and praised.
Everything is wonderful.
You’re great just the way you are, and there’s no need to change a thing. There is no acknowledgment of problematic behavior.
Being positive does not mean ignoring a problem. It doesn’t mean pretending a problem doesn’t exist or putting a positive spin on a bad situation. It doesn’t mean celebrating everything.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do in a bad situation is acknowledge there’s a problem, find a solution, and work toward fixing it.
Toxic positivity will just keep you stuck celebrating the dumpster fire in front of you while pretending everything is fine.
Laugh more. Not only is it a great stress reliever, but it also has many short- and long-term benefits you probably weren’t aware of.
According to the Mayo Clinic, in the short-term, laughter can:
- Enhance your intake of oxygen-rich air and stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles. It also increases the endorphins released by your brain.
- Fire up and then cool down your stress response. This increases and decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, making you feel relaxed.
- Stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation. This helps to reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Some of the long-term effects of laughter include:
- Improving your immune system.
- Easing pain by causing your body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Making it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Lessening stress, depression, and anxiety. Generally, making you feel happier.
Laughter is a great tool for helping you cope with difficult times. Check out a funny sitcom, hang out with your funny friend, or watch a comedy skit. You could even try out laughter yoga.
Increase the laughter in your life. You can’t go wrong with this tip!
13. Surround yourself with positive people.
A positive mental attitude is infectious.
Have you noticed that when you spend time with people who are happy and positive you tend to become more so yourself? You leave feeling happy. Perhaps even laughing at something they said or an antic they pulled.
It’s no wonder these people easily make friends. When someone improves our mood just by being near them, we naturally gravitate to them. We want to be around them more.
The more time we spend with them, the more our mood improves. Until we eventually become one of those positive people that others like being around.
Surround yourself with optimistic people. Hang out with people who always manage to see the silver lining in the darkest times. Their positive mindset will eventually rub off on you, making it easier for you to be happy as well.
Meditation is a great way to relax and clear your mind. It can help you to stop ruminating and focus on the present. Not only does it help you clear your mind, it also helps you let go of the negativity and stress of the day.
Meditation also helps with sleep quality. If you struggle with insomnia, meditation might be the solution you need for good sleep.
When you practice meditation daily, even if it’s only for five minutes, you’ll be better able to let go of negative emotions that affect your mental attitude. Because meditation trains your mind to be more present, you’ll be less fixated on the regrets of the past and worries or fears for the future.
15. Celebrate your achievements.
Failing at keeping your New Year’s resolutions may be a regular occurrence for you. Truth be told, it’s a regular occurrence for almost everyone.
Instead of beating yourself up about it, remember the past goals you set and achieved.
Celebrate your past wins. Especially the small ones. Small wins keep you moving forward to your big wins. The effort you put into achieving them deserves your acknowledgment.
Acknowledge the progress you’ve made toward current success by focusing on what you’ve done well. Don’t minimize the effort it took you to get to where you are in life. It took a lot of time and effort to get to where you are.
Celebrate your achievements.
16. Set achievable goals.
Go over your goals…are they realistic? Are they achievable?
Or have you set yourself up for failure by setting a goal far outside your current skillset?
Choosing achievable goals is an important part of having a positive mental attitude. Set realistic and attainable goals that are consistent with your strengths and resources.
For example, suppose you have trouble with time management or organization. In that case, it’s probably unrealistic for you to expect to be able to be completely organized and on time for all your appointments from now on. It’s going to take time and effort to build up to that.
Instead, set a goal to put aside time every Monday to go over your schedule for the week or find a system that helps you track your appointments conveniently. This will make sure you have a better chance of achieving your goal.
Take it one step at a time. And don’t forget to give yourself room to drop the ball. You’re changing behavior you’ve had for a long time. The change you seek will not happen overnight.
17. Use positive affirmations.
Our inner critics are relentless in their criticism. We not only need to stop the endless cycle of negative inner talk, but we also have to respond with positivity.
Positive affirmations are a powerful tool to help us overcome the negative thoughts and feelings we are trapped by. Use them to help shift your perspective and create more positive memories.
It doesn’t have to be a difficult exercise. Keep it simple by saying to yourself, “I am capable, I have the ability to make things happen.” or “Today, I’m one step closer toward making my dreams come true” every time you feel discouraged or inadequate.
It can be a challenge to silence your inner critic because they have been with us for so long. We often don’t realize when they are at work. So set aside time each morning to say your positive affirmations. Then you can repeat them throughout the day, anytime you’re feeling down.
18. Focus on the positive.
The world is in chaos. Everything is a mess everywhere. But that’s not going to change anytime soon.
Stop focusing on the negative. Focus on the positive instead. Look out for what’s going well.
For example, let’s say you hate your job. Your boss is difficult and always criticizes you. Look at the bright side of being employed. You get to make a living, pay your bills on time, take care of your family, and so on.
Think of the benefits of working with your boss. Maybe your skills have actually improved as a result of their micromanagement and nagging. Or think about all the times when your boss was supportive or helpful or when they weren’t entirely bad.
This also applies to how you think about yourself. Focus on your strengths. Think about the things in your life that bring you joy, the things you like doing, and the things you’re good at.
When something is stressing you out or getting you down, go to your happy place. Think about the positive.
This will reduce negative emotions and put you in a more positive state of mind.
19. Visualize a positive future.
Things might look bad now. Your life may even be a hot mess. But because the only constant in life is change, you can be certain your situation is not permanent.
Work toward improving your present situation. Until the inevitable change comes, visualize your positive future.
If you’re working two jobs to pay off your credit card debt, visualize how good it will feel when you finally pay it all off. You can resign from one of your jobs. Or maybe keep both jobs so you can build up your savings.
Think about how much free time you’ll have or how much more money you’ll have to spend.
That electronic device that you wished you could buy but didn’t have the money for? Now, you can.
Visualization is a powerful tool that keeps us motivated to work toward our goals.
20. Help others.
Helping the less fortunate reminds us of the many things we take for granted. When you’re volunteering at a children’s hospital, you realize there are a lot of families going through unimaginable difficulty.
If you volunteer to feed the homeless, you’ll understand that working for a living and having a roof over your head are actually privileges. Not everyone has that.
Volunteering your time and money helps not only your community but you as well by putting you in a more positive mindset. When you see what others are going through, you realize your problems aren’t so bad after all.
Your mental attitude is your choice. You can choose to be happy. On the flip side, you can also choose to be unhappy. It’s really up to you to embrace each day or to focus on what’s wrong.
Your attitude is not determined by what someone says (or doesn’t say) or does (or fails to do). Blaming other people for how you feel and react gives them too much power.
Take your power back. Control how you react and interact with the world around you.
It’s important to remember that you can’t change your mental attitude overnight. It takes time to build and maintain a positive outlook on life. That being said, there are many things you can do today to start changing your mental attitude.
Initially, being positive will be a struggle. But keep at it. Keep looking at the bright side of things until it becomes a habit.
You’ve got this.