There is no denying it has been a difficult year. Between a global pandemic, an economic recession, and numerous climate crises, the year 2020 is one most of us will be glad to leave behind.
The clock striking midnight doesn’t necessarily guarantee a new start to anything but the calendar, however. If you’re serious about making 2021 a better year, it all starts with your attitude. There are certainly things you can’t control in life, but you can always control how you respond to both the good and the bad. You can choose to cultivate a positive outlook.
Here are 7 tips for staying positive in the coming New Year:
1. Change your frame of mind
You’re not going to get everything you want in life – that’s simply not how it works. When faced with a challenge, you have a choice to make between giving up or moving forward. Instead of receiving the unexpected with fear, embrace it as an opportunity to try something new. At the very least, you’ll learn something from the experience, and you may grow more than you expect. Every experience in life is an opportunity, even the things that seem difficult at the time.
2. Start keeping a gratitude journal
When times are tough, it’s easy to focus on the things going wrong. If something doesn’t go your way, it has the potential to ruin your day unless you choose to let it go. Learning to accept the difficult things in life can be challenging but you don’t have to ignore them to move forward. It’s all about balance.
To help you see the good things in the midst of the bad, consider starting a gratitude journal. Keeping a journal can help you process things and work through mental and emotional challenges. By keeping a journal specifically for writing down the things you’re grateful for, you can balance out the bad. A gratitude journal may help you cultivate a stronger appreciation for the things you have and the people in your life. Start by writing down 3 to 5 things you’re grateful for each day and see where it takes you.
3. Embrace the power of positive thinking
We all have a stream of thought constantly running through our minds. You may not be conscious of it most of the time, but the language you use even in your own thoughts makes a big difference. If you use negative words in your mind, it could affect your perceptions and your feelings. You have a stronger ability to shape your own experience than you may realize.
Instead of thinking of an experience as boring or mundane, think of it as simple or familiar. Rather than viewing an unexpected change of plans as unwelcome or stressful, think of it as new or exciting. Practice reframing negative thoughts in your mind to break the cycle of self-imposed negativity.
4. Start setting goals for yourself
Life can be exhausting when you feel like you’re dealing with one problem after another. If you struggle to find purpose and feel like you’re getting dragged down by negativity, consider setting some goals for yourself. Setting short-term and long-term goals will help you discover direction, to feel like you’re moving forward rather than just spinning your wheels. With each small goal you achieve, you’ll feel renewed motivation to keep going. As you work toward the next goal, you’ll start to notice the little things you accomplish on a day-to-day basis.
5. Look for opportunities to make others smile
When you’re feeling down in the dumps, sometimes the best thing you can do is make someone else smile. Now more than ever, we’re left alone to our own thoughts and it can be difficult to break out from time to time. It’s easy to dwell on the negatives and get caught up in the struggles of our own lives but making an effort to do something good for someone else can foster positivity in your own life. If nothing else, doing something nice for another will distract you for a time and get you thinking about someone other than yourself and something other than your struggles.
6. Start every day on a positive note
You’ve probably heard the saying “fake it until you make it.” Trite as it may sound, sometimes it really works. If you make a commitment to start each day on a positive note, you may find that eventually it becomes a habit and you no longer have to try. It could be something as simple as playing upbeat music while you get dressed for work or putting a post-it note on your mirror with a positive affirmation. You could even make it a goal to compliment someone or do something nice every morning.
Starting each day on a positive note is important, but if you want to change your outlook long-term, you’ll need to keep making the choice to be positive throughout the day. Keep an eye on your self-talk and rephrase negative thoughts and attitudes when they occur. For example, if you’ve made a mistake at work and think, “I really messed that up,” try reframing it as “I’ll try it a different way next time.”
7. Seek help to keep moving forward
The most difficult part of changing your outlook is often identifying the thoughts and patterns that contribute to negativity. We all fall into habits that can perpetuate negative thinking, but it isn’t until we speak them out loud that we are able to recognize them. Talking to a therapist or even a trusted friend could help you identify the areas of negativity in your life, including triggers for negative thinking. Telepsychiatry consultations are available to ensure you get the help you need from home.
Life can be difficult but there is a second side to every coin. Having a negative attitude can prevent you from fully enjoying all that life has to offer, even if some of it is less than perfect. By following the tips above, you can cultivate a positive outlook that will help you make the next year one to remember.
Author bio: Amelia Ma is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience from Burlingame, California. She enjoys writing articles for professionals that are interested in self-improvement, health, and wellness.