Without even recognizing it, negativity can become a part of our everyday lives. It’s easy to find yourself in a cycle of dreading work, being unhappy with relationships, and negative self-talk.
Not only does negativity make life less fun, it also has a significant impact on your overall well-being. Stress takes a toll on your body, often leading to high blood pressure or a weakened immune system. Similarly, having a pessimistic or negative outlook may cause you to have a lower quality of life and decreased overall health.
On the other hand, positivity has any number of wonderful influences on day-to-day life. One study found that it reduces your risk of catching the common cold. In addition, it may also increase your lifespan and help you to cope when you experience hardship.
Thankfully, defeating negativity isn’t the overwhelming process that it might seem at first. All it takes are small conscious decisions each day — each of which only takes a few minutes or less.
These 20 strategies seem simple, but putting them into place can make a world of difference in your life! Be patient with yourself as you make these changes. Negativity can be a difficult habit to break, but the results are definitely worth it!
20 Mind Hacks to Defeat Negativity
1. Listen to Your Self-Talk
The things you tell yourself have a world of impact for your outlook on life. This strategy forms the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, a common psychology treatment for mental health. Pay attention to your self-talk, and notice when you are telling yourself negative things. Only after you recognize your areas of need are you able to start making changes in your life.
2. Challenge Negative Self-Talk With Positive Truths
Once you notice your thought patterns, it’s time to change the ones that are negative or untrue. Write down the lies you tell yourself on paper or on your phone. Then, write out at least three responses to these negative beliefs that challenge their message. Next time you notice a negative thought process, use a pre-written response to change it to something truthful and positive.
3. Avoid the Words “Should” and “Can’t”
The way we phrase our thoughts has a huge impact on our mental state. Using the word “should” is often guilt-laden and then it’s difficult to find excitement for a task. Instead of saying, “I should go for a run,” consider saying, “I want to go for a run”. Similarly, the word “can’t” sets your mind up for failure. So, instead of “I can’t clean the house,” use “It will be difficult to clean the house, but I’ll try.”
4. Have a Mantra
Choosing a mantra is a very personal choice. A mantra is any phrase that reminds you of what’s important, that you turn to when times are hard. This may be a piece of poetry, a religious excerpt, or a quotation from someone you admire. No matter what you choose, have the mantra somewhere visible until you have it memorized. You could even set the mantra as your phone’s background until you have it memorized!
5. Assume the Best
It’s very easy to assume the worst about a situation, another person, or yourself. Unfortunately, when you go into a situation and expect the worst, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go into every situation assuming the best about what will happen, it’s surprising how often everything works out!
Meditation sounds intimidating, but it’s actually a very simple (and useful) cognitive strategy for improving positivity! Even if you’re very busy, a meditation session can be as short as a minute. Take a moment to breathe deeply and consciously release stress. Once you take a moment to meditate, you will be able to go back to your work with a renewed frame of mind.
7. Break Big Problems Into Small Pieces
When you are facing a problem that seems impossible, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. Take the time to break the problem down into tiny, accomplishable tasks. Then, focus on one task at a time. Before you know it, you will have solved your problem with very little stress or negativity.
8. Set Goals
Goal setting is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you maintain a positive outlook on life. Goals give you something to work towards, which can keep you moving forwards even when you don’t feel motivated. In addition, meeting a goal (no matter how small) gives you a feeling of accomplishment, encouraging you to set another goal in the future.
However, only set goals that are achievable and measurable — impossible goals are discouraging, and it’s important to track your progress!
9. Look at the Big Picture
When you’re in the middle of a difficult situation it can feel like the end of the world. Some problems are definitely life changing, and I don’t want to make light of them. However, for other problems, think about the impact that they will have on your life in a month or year. Will you even remember the problem a year for now? When you think about the big picture, often you realize that no matter how the situation turns out you will be okay.
10. Listen to Music
Science has found over and over again that music has incredible influences on the brain and emotions. For this reason, consider making a relaxing music playlist for hard days. Listening to songs that you find soothing or positive can be a great way to unconsciously help your mind move away from negativity.
11. Limit Your To-Do List
In today’s crazy world, it’s easy to end up with a to-do list that seems never-ending. While this approach is helpful for making sure that nothing gets forgotten, it can also be daunting. Try to prioritize 3-5 key to-do tasks for each day. Instead of looking at a never-ending list, you can feel a sense of accomplishment when you have completed them. After getting these key tasks out of the way, if you accomplish anything else on your to-do list, it’s a bonus — not a requirement!
12. Look for the Beautiful
Even in the darkest of times, there are positive moments. But, noticing these moments when everything around you seems dark requires some effort. Train your brain to notice positive things by keeping a gratitude or positivity journal.
Your journal doesn’t have to be a physical book — maybe it’s a note on your phone, or an addition to your calendar. Challenge yourself to notice one good thing in each day, and to be grateful for one thing each day. These small changes can make your perspective a little more positive, even when times are hard.
Using your time and energy to create something beautiful is very rewarding. Be creative in a way that is true to yourself, whether that is playing an instrument, coding, coloring, or taking photographs. Spending time in a productive but enjoyable way is rewarding for your ability to think positively.
14. Evaluate the Information You Consume
Unfortunately, our culture can be incredibly negative. From stories in the news to annoying acquaintances on Facebook, many times the information that we surround ourselves with has an unconscious influence on our perspective.
This isn’t to suggest that you should give up the news or social media entirely. Instead, try to follow news and discussions that bring you joy while unfollowing as many negative influences as possible.
15. Make a Change
While routines can be helpful for positivity, boredom can easily lead to sadness. While big life changes can definitely help you if you’re stuck in a rut, sometimes they’re a little drastic. Instead, try switching up your daily routine with small changes — maybe ordering something new for lunch, or taking a different route home after work. You never know what good things you will discover when trying something new in your life!
As silly as it sounds, laughter really is the best medicine. It has been associated with reducing the release of stress hormones and limiting the experience of pain. Take a few minutes and scroll through the funniest parts of the internet or call a friend who always has a wild story to tell. Your mind, and body, will thank you for it.
17. Just Take One More Step
When you find yourself at your breaking point, frustrated and convinced that it is time to give up, try taking just one more step. This “one more step” might look like writing one more sentence in a paper, sending one more e-mail, or washing one last dish.
This strategy isn’t about being a superhuman — it’s about proving to yourself that you are capable of more than you believe, even in your lowest moments. And who knows, sometimes accomplishing that one more step leads to another step, which then leads to another, and before you know it you’ve actually accomplished the entire goal!
18. Notice Your Body
The wellness of your mind and your body are completely linked — there’s no influencing one without influencing the other. Check in with how you are doing physically.
Have you eaten recently? Are you drinking enough water? Have you exercised today? Are you getting enough sleep? What does your posture look like? Without taking care of your physical health, it is very difficult to improve your mental health.
19. Learn From Your Mistakes
Unfortunately, life isn’t always going to go the way that you want. No one is perfect, and you aren’t the exception to that rule. When something does go wrong, what’s most important is taking some time to evaluate the situation. Analyze what happened, figure out why it went wrong, and come up with some strategies that will prevent it from happening again in the future. Even though it’s hard, at least you know that you won’t make that mistake again.
20. Always Have Something to Look Forward To
One of the best ways to make your outlook more positive is to always have something that you are looking forward to. This could be something small like a desert or a visit with a friend, or something larger like a vacation or a special event.
Looking forward to small celebrations helps you to appreciate each day for what it is, and can get you through hard or boring parts of your day.
Don’t Wait, Start Now
This list of changes that you can make in your life may seem overwhelming at first. Don’t try to change everything at once! Instead, pick one or two suggestions at a time and try to implement them in your daily life. Then, once you feel like you’ve mastered a strategy, try to add another one.
It’s okay if you aren’t successful at first, or if it takes a little while to get the hang of a strategy. What’s most important is that you are actively trying to make a positive change in your life — and that means that you’re already on the right path!
Do you have any tips or tricks that help you to maintain a positive outlook on life? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!