Mind | Written by: Yiqing Zhao

8 Tips For a Positive Mental Attitude

Positivity is flooding over the internet--motivational quotes, posts, videos, and articles are everywhere. It seems like pretty much everyone wants a positive mindset, right? Maybe. However, before I start giving tips, It's helpful to identify what that is, and why you want it. And most importantly, how would you know if/when you have it?

If you think a positive mindset is all about "Go for it!" "You can do it!", you are wrong.

While the pep talk can help to some extent, too much of it can easily become "toxic positivity". Toxic positivity either pushes you when you can't go any further or creates a hunky-dory illusion. If you investigate it, you will find that this kind of positivity is based on fear and lack. Why would you want that?

Let's start from a neutral place. True positivity comes from acceptance, gratitude, determination, courage. True positivity is rooted in vulnerability. And the ultimate vulnerability lies in the fact that we are mortals. We are all going to die, but we just don't know when. 

So why waste time and energy stressing, regretting, fearing, or worrying?

Here are my 6 tips for a positive mindset:

1. Accept and Embrace Negative Emotions

Acceptance is the first step towards change. If you find yourself running away from negative emotions, or trying to buffer them with work, food, alcohol, sex, etc, give yourself some space to sit with them. Tell yourself it's OK not to feel OK. 

For those who cannot accept negative emotions, it's very likely that they grew up believing that feeling negative emotions makes them weak or inferior, so they learned to push them away. In reality, feeling those emotions make you human. It makes you get in touch with your vulnerability, which, actually requires a lot of strength. 

Yes,  you need to have the courage to be vulnerable. When you have the courage to face your discomfort, fear, and frustration, you are already having a positive mindset. 

2. Practice Gratitude

This might sound like a cliche, but it's not. Gratitude is something people keep talking about, but not practicing enough. Our culture likes to look at what's next and push us to achieve that. 

When you are always looking for more--achieve more, make more, have more, you can easily take things for granted. Every time you reach a goal, you are looking for the next bigger and higher goal. 

If you feel exhausted or miserable, that's probably why. You forget what you already have, which is plenty. Be grateful, because a lot of people don't have what you have. You are still living and breathing, and enjoying the benefits of technology, and reading this article. 

A little gratitude a day will carry you a long way.

3. Practice Self-Love

You must know someone who is judgmental. Or maybe you think you are judgmental. Well, that's fine. Because guess what? I was a very judgmental person myself.

Judgment comes from not accepting and loving yourself--it really has nothing to do with the people or things you are judging. It's that part of you that hates yourself projecting onto the outside world.

Accept and love yourself, before anything else. You are a unique, wonderful human spreading light onto this planet. You are enough. You are exactly where you need to be, and you have exactly what you need to achieve what you want to achieve.

So don't beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself. Accept your mistakes and flaws because they are just a part of being human. 

4. Let Go of Expectations

Do you have high expectations for yourself? For others? Do you have certain standards of how things should go? 

If you do, pause your reading now and ask yourself: How are those expectations serving me? Are they bringing me happiness or disappointment?

I'd say, 9 out of 10 they bring you disappointment, right? Expectations are nothing but thoughts in your head. 

If you treat your expectations as the absolute truth, you are going to have a very hard time--every time something goes slightly off track, you'll see that as the end of the world. You will either get into "fight or flight", or sink into depression. 

But if you think about it, those expectations are really just a "thought prison" that you put up for yourself. 

So do yourself a favor--let go of expectations. Accept everything, and expect nothing. 

If you start practicing this, you will notice an immediate shift in your mindset. What could end up as disappointment can now turn into miracles and blessings. The universe has a plan for you. Trust that everything will be alright, and then they will.

5. Build a Strong Belief System

This is based on the last point. When you let go of expectations and choose to believe, you are already embracing a positive mindset. Simply put--have faith. Believe. Believe. Believe some more. The best is yet to come.

Negative people often share a common trait: they have to see it before they can believe it. Unfortunately, that's simply not how the universe works. 

Let's think about this: Most parents would choose to believe that their children will grow into strong, healthy, and capable adults---way before they see the results. But when it comes to other aspects, such as job interviews, exams, careers, etc, why can't we have the same faith? 

You get the idea. You have to believe it before you see it. You can CHOOSE to believe. The stronger your beliefs are, the better you'll feel--regardless of your circumstances.

6. Don't Take Things Personally

Do you find yourself getting reactive with people's questions or feedback? Do you feel hurt, wronged, or unworthy after rejections?

If your answers are yes, chances are you are taking things personally. You are making whatever happens mean something about you. 

"Oh, she seemed so unhappy. I must have said something wrong." " He's asking so many questions--he doesn't trust me."

Do those sentences sound familiar? If you take a second look, can you notice those are the assumptions you're making, which are very likely untrue? 

That unhappy woman might just have had a bad day; the questioner might just be scared of making a big decision. You don't know unless you find out. Why would you think they are about you?

That's how you're creating negativity yourself. Can you see?

7. Don't Take Life Too Seriously

Well, as I said earlier, we are all gonna die. We just don't know when. Why would you take life too seriously, when you know it's all about having a human experience? 

If you think mistakes or failures are disasters, if you always act gingerly trying not to offend anyone, you are taking life too seriously.

Let me give you a gentle reminder--you only live once. You'd better just have fun, and be a little selfish--meaning, putting yourself first, and not caring too much about this or that. 

This tip goes hand in hand with No.4--letting go of expectation. When you don't take life too seriously, you will find it much easier to let go of expectations. 

You will also find people and things much more enjoyable. You will think the kid who just made a mess is actually very cute; you will find chores are fun because you are looking at them with different eyes. 

You will be more spontaneous and less uptight. You will exuberate different energy, that attracts good people and good things in your life.

When you don't take life too seriously, life will surprise you with miracles and rewards, which will make you appreciate life even more.

That's the positive mindset you want, isn't it?

Final Thoughts

Positivity comes from acceptance and love, instead of scarcity and fear. If you constantly live in negativity, don't just try to push yourself to be positive yet--false positivity can be even worse than negativity. Accept and embrace your emotions, love yourself, and make yourself feel safe. 

Start from there. Start from a neutral space where there is no shame or judgment, and start to practice those tips. You can do them one at a time, or do all of them together. 

You might have already noticed how closely related they are with each other. That's really good news because that tells you: everything is connected--once you start implementing one little thing, all the other pieces of the puzzle will show up. You will achieve true freedom--which is the ultimate end of having a positive mindset.

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