The Secret to Feeling Positive About Life: Three Top Tips

By Mary Jaksch

Do you want to feel more positive about your life? The key to feeling more positive is – gratitude. So often we take the good things in our life for granted. Until they are taken away.

There’s some interesting research on how couples feel about their relationship: If people experience as many good moments together as they have bad ones, they think that their relationship is in trouble. In fact, we only experience their relationship as happy if they have five good experiences to every bad encounter.

That’s interesting, isn’t it? It means that bad moments have much more impact on us than good ones–especially if we take them for granted.

Let’s take some liberty with these findings. It could mean that in order to feel content, we would need to find five things to be grateful for, for every one thing we dislike about our life.

It’s easy to focus on negative aspects, especially when our thoughts are fueled by irritation or resentment. If we keep on thinking the same negative thoughts, we carve a groove into our brain. That negative groove leads to bitterness and unhappiness.

Here’s how to get out of the negative groove:

  • Exercise your ‘gratitude muscle’At night, just before you go to sleep, go back through the day and make a list in your mind of all the things you can be grateful for.
  • Focus on the ONE GOOD THING.If you haven’t reached sainthood yet, you’ll know that we all have moments when we tend to think unkind thoughts about our loved ones. At those times, it’s useful to pinpoint one good thing that we can say about that person.Of course, when we’re mad at those we love, it can be difficult to find that one good thing. The trick is to then tack this thought onto every negative one. Like this:
    “It really bugs me that he/she is so …[negative thought]. But he/she is … [positive thought]
  • Use a magic wristband
    This sophisticated feel-good tool will cost you about $2.50. The way to use
    the wristband is to change the wristband to the other arm the moment you
    notice an unkind or negative thoughts. When you are angry, it may fly from
    wrist to wrist. But it will ultimately help you notice and change your negativ
    thoughts.

The most important things is to get into a habit to using skillful thoughts. And to learn to let go of unskillful ones. Unskillful thoughts are those that harm yourself or others.

These three tips are easy to practice. Having a cheerful disposition is a skill that we can practice.

Please let me know in the comments how you go with these three strategies.

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September 18, 2010 at 7:59 am

{ 15 comments }

1 Melissa Gorzelanczyk February 9, 2010 at 2:26 am

Thanks for the great tips on a snowy Monday morning…

2 David - Zen Choices February 9, 2010 at 2:36 am

Exercising your gratitude muscle is great advice. It’s easy at times throughout the day to feel like your too busy or what good is it going to do. But ask yourself right when you wake up and at any time, “Is there anything I am grateful for right now?” It gets the ball rolling. Also, using things like a post-it or a rock that says gratitude on it can remind you to be grateful.

Wonderful upaya!
.-= David – Zen Choices´s last blog ..What Can Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Perspectivism” Teach About Interconnectedness and Judging Others =-.

3 tobias tinker February 9, 2010 at 2:43 am

Nice article, very true. Just a quick note – I suspect that you meant to say ‘unskillful’ in the following sentence at the end:

“Skillful thoughts are those that harm yourself or others.”

… especially after advising that we get in the habit of using skillful thoughts. I’m pretty sure I know what you mean and it’s the opposite of what’s written. Easy mistake to make.

4 King Sidharth February 9, 2010 at 5:14 am

Wow! What a great example of gratitude at it’s best. Sleeping while full of gratitude is best way really for that very vibration is continued in morning and whole day becomes awesome. Loved it :D
.-= King Sidharth´s last blog ..Secret Meditation Lives: Confession of an Angry Teen =-.

5 veenaanand February 9, 2010 at 5:24 am

The very fact that we are alive and kicking is a matter of gratitude .We come but once to this world and we have every reason to be positive even at the time of crises.Be with skillful thoughts and constructive.
.-= veenaanand´s last blog ..The Secret to Feeling Positive About Life: Three Top Tips =-.

6 Sami - Life, Laughs & Lemmings February 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

I’ve just started using a gratitude journal again recently. It amazes me how powerful focusing on what you’re grateful for can be. I’ve used it to get through some really tough times in the past and found that even on the worst days, I could find at least a couple of things I was grateful for.
.-= Sami – Life, Laughs & Lemmings´s last blog ..Random Acts of Kick Arse – Gratitude =-.

7 Carla Hurst February 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

I am attending this virtual retreat while taking care of my husband post bone-marrow transplant for leukemia…I can’t even begin to express how helpful it has been already.
Reminding me to focus on the positive…and how to deal effectively with the negative thoughts that creep in…

Namaste
Carla

8 joe guitar February 9, 2010 at 10:10 pm

…great article mary! …tips very simple…but very usefuls…
.-= joe guitar´s last blog ..Jazz Italiano: BRUNO MARINUCCI TRIO with BILL EVANS & RANDY BRECKER – NAL TARAHARA =-.

9 Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice February 10, 2010 at 3:32 am

I’ve never heard about the magic wristband idea before, i’m going to give that a try!
.-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..The Best Kind Of Product Is One You Don’t Need To Sell =-.

10 Manal February 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Five good things for every one negative thing. Wow! Wonder if this is an instinctive survival trait or a result of conditioning.

Love working on the gratitude muscle. One way also is to write down every day 5 things or more that you’re grateful for.

Thanks for the article Mary. I’m very grateful :)

11 Barrie Davenport, coach February 12, 2010 at 7:16 am

Hi Mary,

This is a great post! I have heard the statistic of 5 positive interractions to counterbalance 1 negative one. It’s like wondering if you should eat that one doughnut when you know you’ll have to run 5 miles to work off the calories. Is it worth it? We should try our best to avoid those negative words with each other, but we should try even harder to offer 5 acts of kindess.

I am very grateful for your blog and your bootcamp and your wonderful advice. I took some of it and included your blog on a list of my favorites in my blog! Can’t wait to start bootcamping.
.-= Barrie Davenport, coach´s last blog ..20 Amazing Personal Growth Blogs =-.

12 Rocky | R O C K O N O V A .COM March 1, 2010 at 8:17 am

Focusing on the one good thing about other people when they’re being challenging is definitely a great way to start feeling better. Great points, Mary !
.-= Rocky | R O C K O N O V A .COM´s last blog ..I Am Trying To Be One Of The Greatest Of All Time. If You Ain’t Doing That, Your Just Wasting Your Time =-.

13 LadyGem July 16, 2010 at 1:14 am

A bit hard to feel positive if your husband has an affair and there isn’t even a loaf of bread in the breadbin. Tired of it all.

14 LadyGem July 16, 2010 at 1:21 am

Sorry, what I meant to say or ask was: how do you think positive if everything around you looks negative?

15 Ock October 29, 2011 at 2:19 am

I like that “Use a magic wristband”. You’re smart. It’s making someone redirect the moment from that negative aura to the ‘moving of the wristband to the other arm’. =)) Good review! I mean not. A great one! NICE JOB! :D

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