For many people, being negative is just a part of life. Maybe they’ve been negative their whole life or some recent event knocked them sideways, and now they’ve just come to accept that way of thinking, but this article will show you how to stop being negative.
Not only do you have news and social media working hard to flood you with sensationalized stories each day, but you also have your own mindset working against you. We each have our own inherent negativity bias((PsyCom: The Negativity Bias: Why The Bad Stuff Sticks)) where the bad stuff tends to stay around much longer in our mind than anything positive. This was a survival mechanism back in hunter-gatherer times, but no longer serves us.
Always being negative is something that you can train yourself out of with a little bit of practice and perseverance. You can attract more positivity into your life.
1. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can take many forms. You can simply take a look around you and make a mental note of everything you are grateful for. Soon, you will start to realize how good you’ve got it.
Generally speaking, the more creative and big-thinking you can get with your gratitude practice, the better. If you’re in your room, you can be grateful that you have a bed, a roof over your head, soft sheets and a nice pillow. If you’re in a coffee shop, you can be grateful for the pleasant atmosphere, the taste of coffee on your tongue, and so on.
Your gratitude and happiness are only limited by your imagination.
2. Realize What You Can and Can’t Control
A big reason for getting upset is you may not realize what you can and can’t control. Letting go of the things that you can’t control, and doing your best with what you can, are some of the keys to living a more positive life.
You may see an awful event happen on the news. It’s tragic, but is there anything you can do about it? No, but you are still left with a lingering sense of negativity when you turn the TV off.
Whether it be events in the past or in the future, the answer is always the same: if you can control it, why worry? If you can’t control it, why worry?
3. Cut Off the Negative Sources That Feed You
As briefly mentioned earlier, negative sources in your life are likely feeding you a large amount of negativity. The longer and more frequently you get your fixes from them, the longer you’re going to be negative about everything.
Some of the most common sources of negative energy are the news, social media, toxic friends and toxic relationships. As a general rule of thumb, if someone complains more often than they are enthusiastic, they are adding a net-negative influence on your life. You should re-evaluate what they are doing to your mental health.
4. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
It would be quite naive to think that negativity is something that can be permanently banished. Nobody can be 100% positive all the time, nor should they be expected to be. Negativity, while it can be reduced significantly, isn’t something that you should want to completely eliminate from your life.
That is where mindfulness meditation comes in. This form of practice is all about not engaging with or becoming identified with thoughts. Instead, you watch thoughts come and go, as if from someplace further back. It may sound a bit woo-woo at first, but mindfulness meditation has plenty of scientific evidence((Link Springer: Nurturing Positive Mental Health: Mindfulness For Well-being in Counseling)) to back up the benefits.
When you’re able to take a step back from your thoughts and feelings, you can watch them without judgement, and without getting caught up in a net of strong emotions. The same is true for negativity, which is just a series of thoughts like any other. With a little bit of practice, you will be able to feel a negative emotion come on. You can then say hello and watch it drift by, only to be replaced by another thought. How good does that sound?
Negativity and negative thoughts only stick around for as long as you hold onto them.
5. Try Journaling Your Thoughts
If you are negative about everything, your head may be a bit of a mess. You might even be skilled enough to watch your negative emotions arise, but then try to fight them or reason with them. Words, thoughts, and the like all swill around in your brain until you feel overwhelmed.
One of the secrets to becoming a less negative person is to journal your thoughts on a piece of paper. Rather than thinking through everything in your head, see if thinking through writing makes any difference. More often than not, people who are clouded by negativity have the biggest breakthroughs when journaling.
Maybe you write down one thing that is troubling you. You may find more clarity seeing problems and other negative influences written down in front of you.
More often than not, you realize that you were making a much bigger deal of them in your mind than they actually are.
6. Smile (Even if you Have to Force it)
It may sound simple, but forcing yourself to smile is one of the fastest ways to improve your mood and quash negativity within yourself.
According to an article in Forbes((Forbes: A Smile Can Change Your Brain. Can An Emoticon Do The Same?)) as well as many other scientific papers, simply smiling for a few seconds is enough to change your whole brain chemistry, which of course affects the rest of your body.
A smiling expression triggers the release of the “happiness chemicals” neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine into your brain. They then begin to improve your mood.
If you constantly feel like negative thoughts are weighing you down, give smiling a try.
7. Eat Healthy
It may not come as a surprise that what you put into your body as fuel impacts your mood. You rarely find an extremely healthy but negative person. If your diet isn’t up to scratch, you can fix that.
According to an article from Harvard Health,((Harvard Health: Gut feelings: How food affects your mood)) the vagus nerve connects the brain and the gut. Because of this, you want to eat more nourishing foods and cut out packaged, processed foods whenever possible.
One recent study((Mol Psychiatry: Healthy dietary indices and risk of depressive outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.)) suggests that eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding inflammation-producing foods may be protective against depression. Another study((World J Psychiatry: Antidepressant foods: An evidence-based nutrient profiling system for depression)) lists foods like oysters, watercress and spinach as foods containing the most antidepressant nutrients.
Just like eating the right foods, exercise is another cheap and reliable way to turn your negative self-image into a more positive one. You don’t even need access to fancy weights or a flashy indoor bike to get the benefits, all you need is your running shoes and a little bit of willingness to change.
There is no shortage of scientific articles linking exercise to a better mood and a more positive outlook on the world. According to Better Health,((Better Health: Exercise and mood)) exercise has a whole host of connections with mood including:
1. Exercise helps chronic depression by increasing serotonin (which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (which helps neurons to grow).
2. Exercise reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse.
3. Exercise increases your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters
4. Exercise helps by getting your sleep patterns back to normal. We know getting enough sleep can protect the brain from damage.
Whenever you feel yourself becoming more negative than you would like to be, get your sweat on and see how you feel once you resume normal life!
You Can Beat Negativity!
Of course, none of these pointers will do you much good if you don’t believe. You now know how to stop being negative, but in order to change, you must believe you can.
With these eight effective tools at your disposal, you now know how to stop being negative and start becoming the more positive person you want to be.