There is a huge imbalance in the world between positivity and negativity, with negativity winning by a long shot.

On one hand, you are not allowed to be too happy and show everyone — Got a promotion? Do not tell everyone or you will seem selfish and proud and it will come off as bragging.

You can be happy, just not show it. When you achieved something great and you tell people about it you usually sell yourself short for those exact reasons, you try to be humble.

On the other hand, it seems to be totally normal to tell others about our problems. You will usually be met with understanding and support if you muster up the courage to share them with others. Talking down on others and talking behind people’s backs are normal for most and are a habit.

You can and should break out of this cycle of negativity. It is possible to do so with some effort and willpower. To do so, it helps to realize the following:

We have no control over most things, they just happen. What we can control is our reaction to these events. Whether we react positively or negatively to something is a trained habit, learned by watching other people since we were little over the years.

Breaking this year-long influence and adapting a positive mentality in a negative surrounding is hard and takes conscious consistent effort.

That being said, the following are some of the best practical methods to train a positive mentality.

The Rubber Band Method

A method from the book “Develop the Winners Mentality” by Bob Reese consists of snapping a rubber band on your wrist every time you think a negative thought or doubt yourself.

Doing this long enough programs your brain to associate negative thinking and doubt with pain. The brain always tries to avoid pain and will therefore avoid negative thinking and self-doubt.

This method might seem drastic, but it has the potential to kill negativity on a very primal level by using our natural instincts. The Rubber Band Method can therefore be very effective. This also works with other forms of light pain like flicking your finger.

If you are not as into hurting yourself, you can try other forms of “punishment”, such as not eating any candy, having to run or donating some money to a charity of your choice.

Stop comparing yourself to others

Comparing yourself to others only ever has negative effects on yourself.

You only compare yourself to people that are “worse” than you to feel better about yourself and your shortcoming as well as justify not doing your best.

Comparing yourself to people better than you, it makes you feel weak and can even lead to depression and self-doubting.

Instead, only compare yourself to your past self. How good was I a year ago? Comparing yourself this way reveals your own personal development, your progress and how much better you are today.

Seeing that you hard work pays off and seeing your progress motivates you and helps you with working even harder towards your goals.

Practice Gratitude

You can be thankful for the things you have in life in several different ways. Gratitude show us all positive things in our life, things we can be proud of and reveals how good our life is.

Reminding yourself of this is important. To stop and take a step back, being happy for what you already have. Otherwise you quickly get on a track of always chasing the next goal and never being happy.

Realize what you already have, be proud of that and learn to be happy with what you already have. The next goal will not make you happy if you are not happy with what you already have.

What you can do right now

Create a list with 30 things you can be thankful for. Start with big things that we usually take for granted, such as health, family, friends, education and having a roof above your head. Also consider personal skills, talents and successes. Take your time to really find 30 things, however small they may seem. Then read and extend the list regularly.

Smiling and Posture

Everyone knows our brain controls and influences the body. But only lately we discover to what extend it also works the other way around: Our body influences our brain. The connection works in both directions. A study conducted by the University of Cardiff in Wales suggests people that cannot frown due to Botox are all around happier. There are several other studies that all suggest that your posture, facial expression and laughing can influence your mood and brain.

This means simply smiling will make you happier and bring you in a better mood. Walking upright with your head up high makes you more confident. Doing those things also changes how people perceive you in a good way.

Fitness

There are a dozen of studies and reasons that show you should work out to become happier and more positive. You will also simply feel a lot better. You improve yourself, work on your body and look better. Fitness takes discipline, optimism and tenacity to get better at like few other activities. All this leads to a more positive outlook on life.

Related: How Fitness improves your Brain

What you can do right now

Join a local gym, go jogging every day for a week or join a sports club. There is a huge variety of possibilities, just choose something that is fun to you and you can stick with for a long period.

Surround yourself with positive things

We are constantly surrounded by media, newspapers, the news and books. Oftentimes, they are very negative. The latest scandals and catastrophes on the news, magazines gossip about the latest divorce of some movie-star couple.

This negativity influences us subconsciously daily. You just have to throw a look at the newspaper headline in the morning to be in a bad mood. They do this to get the consumer’s attention and earn more money. Stopping this influence is not easy. You cannot just stop reading the newspaper or stop watching the news, right? Yes, you can. In fact quite a few people suggest stopping reading the newspaper and watching the news altogether, such as Timothy Ferris. This change has a huge impact on all areas of life.

What you can do right now

Stop consuming any news and media for 5 days. No news on TV, no newspapers, no online news.

Surround yourself with positive people

The single one thing that has the biggest impact on our life are the people that directly surround as. We imitate them subconsciously and adapt their habits, which is why the saying: “You are the sum of the 5 people that are closest to you” is very true. You adapt their mentality and outlook on life, which is why you must eliminate negative people from your life. It is never easy, often times these people are friends or even family members pulling you down with their negativity.

Think about what good things people bring into your life. Cherish these relationships, make an effort to maintain and improve those relationships and found new ones.

Create a selected social circle of people that enrich your life and motivate and inspire you.

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