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What Is a Positive Attitude?

A positive attitude is a quality we all wish we had. So, what is a positive attitude and how can you get one? Find out at HealthyPlace.

A positive attitude is something we’d all like to have, so why do so many of us struggle to be positive? While some people are naturally more optimistic than others, a positive attitude isn’t necessarily something you’re born with. On the contrary, being positive requires ongoing work and self-maintenance; it is a skill to be learned over time. So, what is a positive attitude and how can you get one?

Positive Attitude Definition: Positivity Explained

According to Dictionary.com, positivity means “the state or character of being positive: a positivity that accepts the world as it is.” Therefore, a positive attitude is not so much a personality trait as an effort to pay more attention to the positive things in life rather than the negative.

The Merriam-Wester Dictionary has a broader definition of positivity, citing it as “a mental position with regard to a fact or state; a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state.” Either way, when you demonstrate a positive attitude, you welcome positive energy and expect favorable outcomes from life.

Why Is Having a Positive Attitude So Important?

There are many reasons why it’s important to have a positive attitude. For one thing, people are naturally drawn to those with cheerful dispositions, so you are more open to making connections with others when you maintain a positive outlook. However, the benefits of a positive attitude extend far beyond friendships. Positive thinking can actually change the structure of your brain when practicing regularly, causing new pathways to grow and encouraging long-term positive thinking ("Benefits of Positive Thinking: How It Helps Your Mental Health").

According to the Mayo Clinic, a positive attitude also has physical health benefits.

  • A positive attitude makes you more resilient to the common cold.
  • It lowers stress and reduces anxiety symptoms.
  • It lowers your risk factor for cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
  • It eases symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions

As you can see, the effects of a positive attitude are real, so how can you get one?

Tips for Developing a Positive Attitude

It’s not easy to maintain a positive attitude, especially when times get tough. Here are some tips to help you adjust your outlook.

Make an active choice to see the good: Each time a negative thought enters your head, try to challenge it with a positive replacement. This involves monitoring your thoughts but not getting too caught up on labelling them “good” or “bad.” Positive thinking may not come naturally at first, but over time you can retrain your brain to overwrite negative thought cycles.

Keep a positivity journal: Keeping a positivity journal has numerous mental health benefits including reduced stress, better sleep and fewer anxious thoughts. It is also a helpful way to keep track of your progress toward becoming more positive. Try using a resource like Pinterest or Google to look for positive journal prompts, or simply list the positive elements of your life.

Practice gratitude: Each night before you go to sleep, list three things you’re grateful for, even if you think it’s been a “bad” day. You can do this in your head or by writing a list. Doing this will help train your mind to remain optimistic, even when life feels difficult. 

Seek professional support: Sometimes negative thinking can be symptomatic of a mental health condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If constant negative thoughts are impacting your daily life, it’s important to talk to your doctor or seek help from a licensed therapist. You can find information about mental health treatment on HealthyPlace.

See Also:

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2018, November 22). What Is a Positive Attitude?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/positivity/what-is-a-positive-attitude

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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