Photo by Fernando Brasil
Your whole life is shaped by your attitudes, particularly toward trying situations or failure. The happiest people do not have positive attitudes all the time. Instead, they focus on framing negative situations in ways to help them cope. If you struggle with negative thinking, consider analyzing your attitudes and cultivating healthy ones to help you stay happy and positive.
Do you focus on what you have, or what you don’t have? Happy people tend to practice gratitude, focusing on all the things they have going for them. You can develop a grateful mindset through regular practice; the more you think about or write down all the things you are grateful for, the more you will focus on them. When you next feel jealous of what somebody else has, write 10 things you are grateful for, and see how your thinking shifts.
In the age of entitlement, in which people feel they are owed whatever they want, the happiest people are humble and know they have to work hard to get what they want. Whether in your career, your relationships or any other life goal, examine what you feel you are entitled to, and weigh it against reality. Adopting humility will prompt you to work harder for what you want rather than wait for things to happen.
Happy people tend to have healthy loci of control, meaning they know they are responsible for their own lives and choices. Negative people tend to look outside themselves for solutions to their problems and blame other people or external situations. Taking responsibility doesn’t mean accepting blame where it’s not due. Being responsible simply means that in any situation, you identify everything within your control, including your reaction to the situation, and work on changing what you can. An attitude of responsibility helps you feel empowered to change and improve your own life, rather than hope somebody else will do it for you.
Having a resilient attitude means viewing problems as opportunities rather than setbacks. A good way to develop more resilience is to listen to success coaches such as Tony Robbins or read self-improvement books that focus on overcoming difficulties. Resilient people tend to be happy, not because they have easier lives, but because they face challenging situations head-on and deal with problems in effective ways rather than avoid or run away from difficulties.
A flexible attitude is not the same thing as being weak or letting others walk all over you. Being flexible means that you can address and adjust your thoughts and mindset, reframe things in a more positive light, and compromise with others rather than become stuck in one way of thinking. Developing a flexible attitude can lead to improved relationships. It can also help you to overcome negative thinking faster than if you have a rigid, unbending approach. A flexible mindset stems from mindfulness; practice mindfully noticing your thoughts in a situation and considering as many alternative thoughts as you can, even if you don’t agree with all of them. The more you practice doing this, the easier you will find it to be flexible when it counts.
Happiness is never guaranteed, and even people with healthy attitudes will go through times of grief and upset. However, cultivating positive, helpful attitudes in place of unhelpful, negative ones can help you bounce back from setbacks quickly.
New attitudes take time to develop and are largely a result of repetition and practice. The more you consciously think in positive, healthy ways, the more your thinking will naturally adapt and change.