Positive thinking is easier said than done. When people offer advice like, “Look at the bright side!” or “Find the silver lining!” it’s usually trite and unhelpful. How are you supposed to be all smiles and sunshine when something terrible happens or you hit a rough patch? You’d need to be pretty disconnected from reality—insensitive, even—to see every situation through rose-colored glasses. That’s just not how life works.

Attaining a positive mindset does not mean never feeling bad about anything ever again. Sometimes bad things happen and it’s unhealthy to ignore them. A lot of the negativity in the world is out of your control, so positive thinking should be a daily practice to improve contentment with the things you do have agency over—not an unrealistic goal of 100% joy all the time.

These five practical tips are actions YOU can control. By nurturing positivity and quelling negative influences, you’ll start to see more good than bad in the world. Things that seem really hard now will likely start to fall into place, or start to seem a lot less important. Tap into your inner power and see how far these steps can take you!

1. Surround Yourself with Positive People

Ever heard the saying, “Misery loves company”? Angry, unhappy people want everyone to suffer with them. It’s next to impossible to build a positive mindset if you have friends, family members, or coworkers who are determined to tear you down. You know exactly who these people are. Distance yourself at all costs! It may be impossible to fully escape them, but minimize the time and energy you give to them as much as humanly possible.

Developing a positive support system will have the exact opposite effect—you’ll have people cheering you on and lifting your spirits through every challenge you face. Look for relationships built on genuine kindness and respect, and put your time and energy towards these people. They deserve you—the misanthropes don’t.

2. Pump the Brakes on Self-Criticism

We all have an inner critic. For some of us, she’s an obnoxious loudmouth. When the voice in your head starts tearing you down, it’s time to pump the breaks. Simply take a few deep breaths and try to reverse everything the voice is telling you. Instead of, “I’m a loser,” think “I’m a winner!” Remind yourself that it is NOT your job to decide your value. You don’t need to judge yourself—what does that accomplish? (Answer: NOTHING.)

All those negative thoughts are imaginary. They feel real because they’re in our heads, but they don’t define who we are, and are usually extremely, utterly wrong. Your inner critic is the only one thinking those bad things—nobody else. So tell her to zip it!

3. Do Something Nice for a Person You Love

At times, the best way to lift up yourself is to lift up someone else. Make a habit of showing the people you love that you appreciate them. Give a small gift, do them a favor, or compliment them. It’s so easy. More often than not, it will only take a few minutes to accomplish. And you’ll benefit from the happiness you give to others—just try it and see!

4. Write Daily Notes of Gratitude

Every day, write down at least one gratitude and put it in a box or a journal. It doesn’t have to be big—a sunrise, a hug from your child, a funny moment from your day. Anything that brought you joy qualifies. Then, whenever you need a pick-me-up, you can read back through everything you’re grateful for. It’s a great motivator during difficult moments.

5. Transform Failures into Lessons

If you’re not failing, then you’re not growing. The people who never fail usually end up with the most regrets in old age because they never tried new things. You won’t ever look back and wish you hadn’t attempted the hard thing, whatever it may be. When it doesn’t work out, you learn and you’re better off for it. Sure, failure sucks at the moment, but at least you won’t reach your golden years haunted by “what ifs.”

Think of these five tips as tools for overcoming challenges. What are the big goals that you want to take on? Is getting healthy one of them?

If so, we’re here to help. Alaska Premier Health is a full-service medical clinic that specializes in healthy, sustainable weight loss. Give us a call at 907-561-3488 to schedule a free consultation and we’ll be your positive partners in diet and exercise!