6 Ways to Be a More Positive Person

There’s magic in your thoughts.

Not in the ability to manifest things per say, but the power of positive thinking has been studied for decades (and longer, depending on the source material) and consistently proven to correlate with success.

On one hand, it seems impossible that simply by *thinking* we’re going to excel, it happens.  Studies have shown, however, that positive thinking and practices engage the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing the body and slowing the heart rate. There’s also strong evidence that it stokes compassion and creativity. In turn, people who are “happy” (subjective as the term is) tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, perform better at their jobs, and receive more support from coworkers.  They tend to be more resilient and engaged; it’s essentially a cycle of positivity.

So how does a person become one of these so-called happy folk? Psychology Today makes these six recommendations:

1. Practice Gratitude

It might sound a little too Pollyanna-glad-game for some, but listing things for which you are grateful is step one to moving into a positive frame of mind. It might be a list that you can run through in your head—soft bed, gainful employment, family, favorite barista, whatever you value—or a literal written journaling exercise. Some people find it helpful to have a gratitude partner, someone with whom you communicate daily a few things for which you are grateful via text message, tweet, phone call, any medium that works for both parties.

2. Stop the Cycle of Negativity

At the beginning, it might feel like a Sisyphean task to let go of negativity. It’s a shift that doesn’t happen overnight, and there will be some backsliding, but catch yourself. If there’s a moment you realize that you’re judging others, complaining about work, criticizing yourself, recognize that everyone needs to vent at some level, but don’t dwell. Follow up by practicing gratitude for something (or two things, in a one-step-back-two-step forward mentality).

3. Sit up straight

The connections between our mind and body are pretty profound, to say the least. When it feels difficult to move into a positive place, try literally moving your body there first. Stand or sit up straight, and roll your shoulders up to your ears, then back down, so they feel directly aligned with your hips. Hold your chin high (if in front of a mirror, make sure you can see your neck). If you REALLY want to take it up a notch, extend your arms out to the side or straight up, and feel the stretch through your shoulders and down your spine. Inhale and exhale a few times. Positive posture = positive mind.

4. Smile

One of the final positions of some yoga practices is called ‘happy baby pose’ which calms the brain and combats stress and fatigue. Yogis lay on their back with shins perpendicular to the floor, then raise their ankles over their knees and grasp the balls of their feet with their hands. However, as many yoga instructor note, the position can resemble a dead bug as much as a happy baby. The difference is smiling. Our minds really do engage differently when we smile. Added bonus: smile at someone walking down the hall. Receiving a smile can be almost as beneficial as smiling yourself.

5. Surround Yourself with Positive People

There’s a parable regarding crabs in a bucket: one crab in a bucket can easily crawl out, but two crabs will keep pulling each other down and not allow the other to escape. The moral of the story is that negative people bring you down (sometimes literally), and positive people will raise you up.

6. Be Excellent to Each Other

Abe Lincoln (Bill and Ted’s Abe Lincoln, to be exact) had it right: be kind to people, and it provides a new perspective. While it’s easy to wallow in our own mired existence, reaching out and connecting with other people is one way to pull ourselves into positivity. Instead of pulling your phone out while walking down the street, greet people with ‘Good morning.’ It could be that easy to pass on your happy factor.

Nobody is one hundred percent positive all of the time, and it’s still important to recognize those negative feelings, and work through them as necessary. The point is to be more positive in general—in your thoughts, your actions, and your words—and how it translates to a better environment.