how to see change as a glass half full
6 ideas for bringing more laughter into your life

choose happiness: 5 steps to train yourself to be positive

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems,
but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."

Herm Albright

Even for someone like me, who thinks about and writes about positivity on an almost daily basis, being positive is not easy. When I think of the world, I still sometimes  see it through a negative perspective, focusing on the bad and ignoring the good -- especially when things aren't going the way I'd hoped they would. As I've been struggling with this lately, I've been reminding myself that it really is possible to change my perspective. About a year ago, I decided I was going to make a change in my life. I was going to start looking for the good, seeking the positive, and striving to make every day a joyful experience. This was something I would have never imagined myself doing, but it's something that has impacted my life every single day since then. 

I’ve had to do a lot to get to where I am right now, and I still believe I have a long way to go. I’m not searching for any particular end point, however. All I want is to be happy, to live a life that focuses more on the good than the bad (though I do believe you need both to have a happy life). On this road -- this twisting, turning road to happiness -- there have been many ups and downs. There have been challenges. There have been inspirations. There have been many amazing experiences that I never would have had if I had not made this first choice -- the choice to live a positive life. 

Recently, as I struggle to be positive about certain situations in my life, I’ve been giving some serious thought to how I transformed my outlook from negative-focused to positive-focused. (Note: I don’t always see the good. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, but, for the most part, there has been a BIG shift in my attitude over the past year). Though I have to admit that there are many, many factors involved in my personal development -- such as my therapist, the countless books and blogs I read, creating my blog, and surrounding myself with happy, supportive people -- I can say that, at the most basic level, choosing to be positive has helped me the most in terms of becoming the person I want to be. When I think back on my transformation now, I recognize that the following five steps are the best ways to begin stumbling down that path to positivity.

Train Yourself to be Positive in 5 Steps

Step One:
Believe Happiness is a Choice

For me, this was a hard one at first. I thought that people were either unhappy or happy (and I was one of the unhappy ones). I used to blame this on all kinds of outside forces –- fate, experiences, parents, relationships –- but never really stopped to think that I could choose to be happy. Sure, this isn’t always easy (in fact, for me, it can be very, very hard sometimes), but it is always, always an option. Teaching myself to believe that happiness is a choice has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself. Now when I find myself in a bad situation, I know that it’s up to me to find the good, to be happy regardless of what’s happening around me. I am no longer pointing fingers, placing blame. I realize that everything happens how it happens and it’s up to me to choose how I want to feel about it. I am in control of my happiness level and no one can take that away from me.


Step Two:
Rid Your Life of Negativity

If you want to live a positive, joyful life, you cannot –- absolutely CANNOT -– be surrounded by negative people who are not encouraging your happiness. As a negative person, I tended to attract negative people. When I decided to make the change to live a more positive life, I had to rid my life of all of the negative people in it. This, as you can imagine, wasn’t easy. Getting rid of people hurts -– even when you know they aren’t good for you or your current lifestyle. Not only did I have to get rid of the negative people, but I also had to get rid of the negative things too. I had to stop doing certain things that were causing negativity in my life. I had to take a step back and examine which behaviors were good for me and which were not. I learned to focus on the positive things I was doing and let go of the negative ones. This process was not easy and, to be honest, is still on-going, but I know this: having negativity in your life prevents you from living a truly positive existence.


Step Three:
Look For the Positive in Life

There is positive in everything. In every person, in every situation, there is something good. Most of the time it’s not all that obvious. We have to look. And sometimes we have to look hard. The old me was content to sit back and just glance around. If I saw negative, I went with that feeling. I didn’t want to look harder or think too much about the good. I found it much, much easier to sit back and just accept what I saw (which was usually the bad). Now, when I’m faced with a difficult or challenging situation, I think to myself, “What is good about this?” No matter how terrible the situation might seem, I always can find something good if I take the time to think about it. Everything –- good and bad -– is a learning experience so, at the very least, you can learn from bad experiences. However, there’s usually even more to it than that. If you really take the time to look, you will usually find something good, something really positive, about every person or situation.


Step Four:
Reinforce Positivity in Yourself

Once I started thinking more positively, I realized I had to reinforce these thoughts and behaviors in myself so they would stick. As with any sort of training, practice makes perfect, and, yes, you can practice being positive. The best and easiest way to do this is to be positive when it comes to who you are. Tell yourself you’re awesome. Tell yourself you look good. Tell yourself you did an awesome job at work or raising your kids or whatever it is you do. Be honest with yourself, but do your best to look for the good. And, whatever you do, don’t focus on the negative. Nothing good can come of telling yourself that your butt’s too big or your latest career goal wasn’t met. It’s okay to not like everything about yourself, but don’t focus on the negative. Remind yourself of the good in you. We all have positive attributes and it’s up to you to remind yourself of them every day.


Step Five:
Share Positivity with Others

Not only do you need to be positive with yourself for this training to really take effect, but you need to be positive with others. You have to share your wealth of positivity with the world. The best way I’ve found to do this is quite simple and basic: be nice. Be nice to other people, no matter what. Tell someone s/he looks nice today. Tell someone they did a great job on that presentation. Tell your parents or children (or both!) how much you love them and how great they are. When someone is feeling down, do what you can to cheer him or her up. Send flowers. Write notes. Don’t gossip. Be kind to all living things. All of these things sound basic enough, but, for someone like me, they didn’t used to come easily. I never wanted to see the good in myself and, therefore, didn’t want to see it in others either. I used to be critical and condescending. Now I strive to be encouraging and supportive. I try not only to treat others as I would like to be treated, but also to consider how they would like to be treated. People appreciate positivity and the more you are sharing it with others, the more you are practicing it and reinforcing it in your own life.


When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is daunting, tell yourself this: "Dani, someone who really used to struggle with a negative attitude, turned her life around with these five steps and I can too!" If anyone had told me a few  years ago that I would be writing an article about being positive, I would have laughed right in their face. I would have said, “Why in the world would someone want me to write about positivity?” But here I am, writing this post, believing in these words, and knowing that every single day I am getting closer and closer to living the positive life I’ve secretly dreamed of living. If I can do it, you can do it. Believe in yourself and remember the most important lesson of all… a positive outlook is a choice. Choose to be positive. 

How do you strive to be positive in your life?
What could I add to this post about training for a positive life?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

amazing post as usual. One of the big problems i learned from positive thinking is that many people in the world choose to live the life how they want. Whenever they are negative they have chosen that. One thing that has helped me maintain a positive attitude is sharing what i've learned with others. Doing that has made a big difference. Before i felt like personal development was a big secret, so therefore i hardly shared anything. Now its the total opposite.

Great article Herm.

You know others think that people who think positively are depriving themselves of the truth. They think that us positive thinkers expect everything to go perfectly positive. When in actuality it's not that we expect everything to go positive but we make a choice (keyword choice) to see the positive in every situation, good or bad.

By choosing happiness and enforcing a positive focus on life situations, we become more optimistic about life. I love you 5 steps! Thanks for sharing!

Hi Dani,

Thanks for the post.

One of the things I have noticed looking back is that the people in my life showed me how negative or positive I was at the time. Like you said in step two, if you are negative, you are going to attract negative people.

I also had a hard time letting go of some negative people. It's not that they are bad people, it's just that they aren't good for us. And some of these people can even be positive at times and this part is definitely missed. But if somebody is negative too often, you often have to let them go. You have to accept the entire person and not just the good parts.

You inspire me, Dani!

One of the things that always keeps me going is imagining the future, creating a better way, and reminding myself that I'm the creator of my experiences.

I agree that there is a certain amount of control over one's level of happiness but I wonder what can you do to eliminate negativity when the actual source of that negativity is within your family? It's easier to avoid negative people if they are among your friends, colleagues, or co-workers, but family is a whole other thing. You certainly can't get rid of family. How would you deal with it then?

Number 1 and 5 are things that I always strive to do. When things are not sunny, I tell myself that being positive is 100% my choice and I should be mature enough to know to choose it. Great post, Danni. :)

Josten - Thank you! :) I'm so glad you thought this post was amazing. Like you, I also feel that sharing what I learn really helps me to reinforce my positive attitude while also (hopefully) opening up others' eyes to seeing the world positively.

Jarrod - Herm was actually the one who wrote the quote, but it's a great quote! I really agree with this point you brought up: "When in actuality it's not that we expect everything to go positive but we make a choice (keyword choice) to see the positive in every situation, good or bad." Being positive doesn't mean thinking that everything is great; it means looking for the good and making the most of whatever situation we're given.

Greg - You really do attract what you put out. If you choose positivity, you'll be surrounded by positive people, which is something I've discovered over the past year or so. It's really true that, in life, we get what we give.

Tara - Yay! :) I'm so happy you feel inspired by this post!

J.D. - I love the idea that we are creators of our experiences. It's so true and so many people don't realize that they have the power to create the lives they want to live -- positive or negative!

Marwah - Family is a tricky subject when it comes to eliminating negativity. It's not so easy to rid yourself of your family members simply because they are negative. But remember this: you can't change other people, but you can change how you view them and how you react to them. If you have a family that really brings you down, it's best to limit the amount of time you spend with them. If that's not possible, do your best to see the good in them and to focus on the positive things they do.

Meream - Great point about maturity. I feel sometimes as if negativity is a sign of immaturity, of always thinking things should go your way and being disappointed when they don't. I really like thinking about positivity as a mature attitude. Glad you brought that point up!

Great post! Very relevant to me right now because I am that negative person by habit and I really need to change that.

Jacinta - I'm glad you liked this one! It's been very hard for me to break negative habits, but I'm working on it every day. Practice makes perfect!

Another great post! I read your words and it is like exactly what I strive for day in and day out.If I could add anything from my own experiences it would be recognizing attachment to things or ideas that cause us unnecessary suffering.This could go with #2 ridding yourself of negativity,but sometimes when we are attached for all the wrong reasons we don't see it as negative,rather we strive relentlessly and hopelessly to make it better.Thanks.


Derrick - Thank you! You've brought up a really great point in your comment about recognizing attachment to unnecessary things/ideas/people. Some things are very negative for us (even if we don't want to admit it) and it's important to consider why we're attached to certain things and whether or not we need to be. Thanks for bringing up this point!

Thanks Dani. I always find some great writing here. I ask myself "what's my motive" when I get embroiled in things that may hurt me. If I inventory, I come up with the answer.

Syd - Thank you! :) That's a great question to ask yourself: "What's my motive?" It really does work for a number of situations and can, as you said, really help you take inventory.

Amazing post- this brightened my day... thanks.

Shannon - I'm so happy to hear that this post brightened your day! I hope your day keeps getting better. :)

I am so glad to have run across your website! It is wonderful & much appreciation!

Corenna - I'm so glad you found the site too! Thanks for reading and commenting!

very grateful to you for your blog and the words of encouragement, very Biblical and wise.
One of my goals is to keep my timeline upbeat, encouraging, inspirational and funny, so when ever someone needs a pick-me-up, or a chuckle, they can look there to find one......

Wow..Fabulous words of encouragement. I will try your words to be more positive in my life..Thank you your an inspiration

Julie - Thank you! I hope Positively Present will help you with your goal of having an upbeat attitude!

Linda - Thanks! I'm so glad to hear that these words could inspire you.

The comments to this entry are closed.