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Positive Attitude – 5 Steps to a Happy Life

Photo by Aeschleah DeMartino

We all want a happy life, and we all know that having a positive attitude feels better than a negative one. But for some reason, we are all attracted to and can be easily drawn to the negative side. How do we go about to establish a more positive attitude as a daily habit?

Even for someone like me, who thinks about and writes about positivity on an almost daily basis, having a positive attitude is not always easy.

I still sometimes see the world through a negative perspective, focusing on the bad and ignoring the good — especially when things aren’t going the way I had hoped. As I’ve been struggling with this lately, I’ve been reminding myself that it really is possible to change my perspective.

About a year and a half ago, I decided I was going to make a change in my life. I was going to start looking for the good, seeking the positive, and striving to make every day a joyful experience.

This was something I would have never imagined myself doing, but it’s something that has impacted my life every single day since then. I’ve had to do a lot to get to where I am right now, and I still believe I have a long way to go.

I’m not searching for any particular end point, however. All I want is to be happy, to live a life that focuses more on the good than the bad (though I do believe you need both to have a happy life).

On this road — this twisting, turning road to happiness — there have been many ups and downs. There have been challenges. There have been inspirations. There have been many amazing experiences that I never would have had if I had not made the choice to live a positive and happy life.

Recently, as I struggle to be positive about certain challenging situations in my life, I’ve been giving some serious thought to how I transformed my outlook from negative-focused to a more positive-focused one. (Note: I don’t always see the good. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, but, for the most part, there has been a BIG shift in my attitude over the past year or so).

Though I have to admit that there are many, many factors involved in my personal development — such as my therapist, the countless books and blogs I read, creating my blog, and surrounding myself with happy, supportive people — I can say that, at the most basic level, choosing to be positive has helped me the most in terms of becoming the person I want to be.

When I think back on my transformation now, I recognize that the following five steps are the best ways to begin stumbling down that path to happiness by establishing a habit of positive attitude.

5 Steps to a Happy Life with Positive Attitude

Step 1: Believe Happiness is a Choice

For me, this was a hard one at first. I thought that people were either unhappy or happy (and I was one of the unhappy ones). I used to blame this on all kinds of outside forces –- fate, experiences, parents, relationships –- but never really stopped to think that I could choose to be happy.

Sure, this isn’t always easy, but it is always, always an option. Teaching myself to see that happiness is a choice has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself.

Now when I find myself in a bad situation, I know that it’s up to me to find the good, to be happy regardless of what’s happening around me. I am no longer pointing fingers, placing blame. I realize that everything happens how it happens and it’s up to me to choose how I want to feel about it. I am in control of my happiness level and no one can take that away from me.

Step 2: Rid Your Life of Negativity

If you want to live a positive, joyful and happy life, you cannot –- absolutely CANNOT -– be surrounded by negative people who are not encouraging your happiness. When I was a pretty negative person, I tended to attract other negative people.

When I decided to make the change to live a more positive life, I had to rid my life of all of the negative people in it. This, as you can imagine, wasn’t easy. Getting rid of people hurts -– even when you know they aren’t good for you or your current lifestyle.

Not only did I have to get rid of the negative people, but I also had to get rid of the negative things too. I had to stop doing certain things that were causing negativity in my life. I had to take a step back and examine which behaviors were good for me and which were not.

I learned to focus on the positive things I was doing and let go of the negative ones. This process was not easy and to be honest, is still ongoing, but I know this: having negativity in your life prevents you from living a truly positive existence.

Step 3: Look For the Positive in Life

There is the positive aspect in everything. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time it’s not all that obvious. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard.

The old me just sat back and allowed things to happen by default. If I saw negative, I went with that feeling. I didn’t want to look harder or think too much about the good. I found it much, much easier to sit back and just accept what I saw (which was usually the bad).

Now, when I’m faced with a difficult or challenging situation, I think to myself, “What is good about this?” No matter how terrible the situation might seem, I always can find something good if I take the time to think about it.

Everything –- good and bad -– is a learning experience. So, at the very least, you can learn from bad experiences. However, there’s usually even more to it than that. If you really take the time to look, you will usually find something good, something really positive, about every person or situation.

Step 4: Reinforce Positivity in Yourself

Once I started thinking more positively and adapted to a more positive attitude, I realized I had to reinforce these thoughts and behaviors in myself so they would stick. As with any sort of training, practice makes perfect, and, yes, you can practice being positive.

The best and easiest way to do this is to be positive when it comes to who you are. Tell yourself you’re awesome. Tell yourself you look good. Tell yourself that you love and accept yourself completely. Tell yourself you did an awesome job at work or raising your kids or whatever it is you do.

Be honest with yourself, but do your best to look for the good. And, whatever you do, don’t focus on the negative. Nothing good can come of telling yourself that your butt’s too big or your latest career goal wasn’t met.

It’s okay to not like everything about yourself (yet), but don’t spend energy dwelling on the negative. Remind yourself of the good in you. We all have positive attributes and it’s up to you to remind yourself of them every day.

Step 5: Share Happiness with Others

Not only do you need to be positive with yourself for this new positive attitude to really take effect, you also need to be positive with others. You have to share your wealth of positivity with the world.

The best way I’ve found to do this is quite simple and basic: be nice. Be nice to other people, no matter what. Tell someone he or she looks nice today. Tell someone they did a great job on that presentation. Tell your parents or children (or both!) how much you love them and how great they are.

When someone is feeling down, do what you can to cheer him or her up. Send flowers. Write notes. Don’t gossip. Be kind to all living things. All of these things sound basic enough, but, for someone like me, they didn’t used to come easily.

In the past, I didn’t wanted to see the good in myself and, therefore, didn’t want to see it in others either. I used to be critical and condescending. Now I strive to be encouraging and supportive. I try not only to treat others, as I would like to be treated, but also to consider how they would like to be treated.

People appreciate positivity and the more you are sharing it with others, the more you are practicing it and reinforcing it in your own life.

Parting Words on the Positive Attitude Habit

When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is daunting, tell yourself this: “If someone who really used to struggle with a negative attitude, turned her life around with these five steps, then I can too!”

If anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be writing an article about developing a positive attitude and living a happy life, I would have laughed right in their face. I would have said, “Why in the world would someone want me to write about positivity?”

But here I am, writing this post, believing in these words, and knowing that every single day I am getting closer and closer to living the happy life I’ve secretly dreamed of living. If I can do it, you can do it. Believe in yourself and remember the most important lesson of all… a positive outlook is a choice. Choose to be positive. Choose to be happy. Life is short.

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About the author

This post was written by Dani, a twenty-something striving to live positively in the present moment. Dani’s blog, Positively Present, embraces the idea of “living happily ever after now” by focusing on all things positive. Dani is also the creator and author of Hope Springs Internal, a blog focusing on the positive representations of women in the media. You also find Dani on Twitter @positivepresent.

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50 thoughts on Positive Attitude – 5 Steps to a Happy Life

  1. Abhi

    I feel you still have a lil bit of negativity in you..thts because though you know the fact that you are addressing ppl with negative attitude..you still say in the very beginning itself that being positive is very difficult and its very hard to achieve. This makes a person with negative mentality sway away from this article. If you r really a positive thinker you would’nt say anything in this world is too hard to achieve.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. It helps to hear others and what they have done to grow.

  3. think more positive things, control feeling. Sometimes need to learn how to feel happiness.

  4. DOROTHY KANGETHE

    SURE,LIVING POSITIVE IS THE BEST THING EVER, IT MAKES YOUR LIFE MUCH BETTER AND ENJOYABLE

  5. Congratulations Dani on shifting your perspective. As you said, fundamentally having a positive attitude is a choice. Happiness is not a destination but a perspective.

    My teenage daughter just shared some of her tactics for shifting perspective and reclaiming the positive. You can see them right here:

    http://fitfamilytogether.com/positive-attitude

    They are some very tangible tactics that work like gangbusters!

  6. I can really relate to step #1- believing that happiness is a choice. I’ve lived my whole life with Muscular Dystrophy and have been in a wheelchair. I had to make a decision early on in my life to focus more on my abilities than my disability and basically choose my happiness. Nice article and very encouraging steps!

    -Kevin Barton-

  7. I think i can do those 5..
    and i like the last attitude..
    sharing..
    sharing is caring.. :)

  8. Ali

    Undoubtedly, your text is very useful and can be a guild line or plane for living. In my opinion, this issue is a important issue. when you can control your thoughts, that is, you can be more successful. However, it is very hard to have good thoughts in a bad situation, but, trying for this purpose can be help us. when this action is repeated, we can be more stronger versus hard situation.

  9. Cool.. Got to remember these outlook frequently..

  10. Tanu

    Hello Dani,
    Thanks & Nice article, real enjoyed reading this hope i can do the same.my problem is that i m very short-tempered while earlier my friends used to give compliments fr being patient.
    Anyways will follow your talks so thanks again.

    :)cheers!!!!!

  11. Sumit

    Hi Dani,

    Thanks for writing an excellent post. I think the most important aspect of developing a positive attitude is to break down the process of attitude building into steps which you have done.

    Also, you have listed the steps in the right order, with the most important step: having belief that happiness is a choice, being the first. Since any human action: positive or negative starts with first having a belief in the mind, believing that happiness is a choice is a right first step for following the next 4 steps towards positive attitude building.

  12. Serena Howard

    Thank you. Many interesting points and comments too. I was battling a strong negative feeling all week, and now feel I can handle it in a more positive way.
    –I noticed the comment on ‘jealousy’ and a sort of negative obsession with another person. This seems to be very common in human nature, but maybe even more so today with facebook and online ‘friends’… Do you have any writings on this?
    And more details on how to deal with the negative family members ? Is there some kind of ‘training manual’ or therapy to learn how to deal with people who for years have competed with you and made you feel bad, and who seem impossible to get out of your life? thank you again

  13. Dani, Thanks for the article – I enjoyed reading the article – a simple 5 step plan to transforming ones life …it is so true that the number one step is believing that being positive is a choice. With all the challenges in life, we can easily be discouraged by these events if we saw the glass half empty – however, this is a choice. By getting rid of negativity around us (people, situations), we can clear the way to a happy path..and of course you end with sharing happiness with others..it’s really a snowball effect..

  14. Diana

    I find this to be helpful advice with plenty of real life examples and ways to implement these tips in my life.

    Thanks I will try this out :)

  15. Your site has some really nice thoughts.. thanks for sharing!!

  16. Sara’s comment prompted me to write this. From my experience I can tell that jealousy doesn’t do any good to us.Some may say that jealousy may prompt us to do better.May be. But you won’t be enjoying what you do. When you are in the grip of jealousy you lose your personal power,your power to attract people,your charm etc. Because you cannot be totally in the present.Jealousy is a very powerful negative feeling that it completely absorbs you,mind and boy.Most importantly,don’t seek approval of others always. Self-approval is the thing.That’s all.

  17. Nice article. I liked the points you have mentioned in live life with positive attitude and the flow you have used to mention these points.

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