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How to Remain Positive In the Face of Difficulties

Sickness, legal troubles, loss – so many different things can weigh on your mind and keep you from being happy. But even in difficult times, there’s power in remaining positive.

5 Ways to Choose Positivity

You’re not always going to feel happy. In fact, there will be times when you feel sad, depressed, angry, and frustrated. But you don’t have to wait for positivity to overcome you. Sometimes you just have to choose it.

That’s right – sometimes being positive is about choosing to be positive. But if you’re looking for ways to make this an easier choice, here are some suggestions:

1. Control What You Can Control

In any difficult situation, there are certain aspects that you can control, and there are other aspects that you can’t. Recognizing the difference between the two is a skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

One of the keys to remaining positive in the face of difficulties is to proactively address the factors you can control and then forget the rest.

For example, let's say you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you’re facing legal charges. One thing you can control is hiring a criminal defense attorney and providing everything they need to defend you. One thing you cannot control is what other people say about you. Focus on the former and then let the latter go.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

It might sound hokey, but there’s a growing body of research to suggest that practicing gratitude actually has a positive impact on your physical and emotional health.

“Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships,” NPR reports. “Earlier this year, a study found that keeping a gratitude journal decreased materialism and bolstered generosity among adolescents.”

Keeping a gratitude journal is easy and relatively effortless (but the benefits are real). For best results, take five minutes each morning to write down a list of things you’re thankful for. This simple exercise primes your brain to be more gracious (and proactively eliminates negative thoughts).

3. Get Enough Sleep

When you’re stressed and overwhelmed, sleep might not come as naturally as you’d like. However, research shows that shut-eye is actually a catalyst in increasing positivity.

During sleep, your body processes emotions and recharges (physically and mentally). Getting adequate amounts of rest is directly linked to happiness, improved relationships, better workplace performance, and even an increased ability to control pain.

If you’re having trouble getting sleep, here are a few helpful hacks.

4. Spend Time With Positive People

There’s a common theory that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And while it’s pretty hard to prove this fact scientifically, there’s plenty of evidence to support it. We can all recall times when we’re around negative people, and we end up leaving and feeling negative ourselves. Likewise, we can all point to moments when we were surrounded by joyful people and recall how happy it made us.

If you want to be more positive, spend time with positive people. You’ll start to see the world through their eyes – which is a good thing!

5. Make Someone Else Happy

If you want to be happy, make someone else happy! Research shows that doing something kind for someone else actually makes the giver feel happier. 

“Making others happy is more meaningful for people than just socializing with them or doing something to improve our own happiness,” says Jill Suttie, Psy.D. “When we aim to make others happier, we feel connected to them—our relatedness needs are better met—which is important for us.”

You don’t have to do anything extravagant. Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness, like holding open a door or giving a stranger a compliment, are enough to elevate your own mood and put you in a more positive state.

There’s Always Something More

Things are never as bad as they seem. There’s always something better coming down the road. Sometimes you just have to trust that the bad days are just that – days. Life happens in seasons and there will be much happier times ahead. For now, the best thing you can do is choose positivity.


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