Positive thinking

11 Proven Strategies For A Positive Mental Attitude

good vibes only neon sign

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. This is at no extra cost to you. I only ever recommend products and services that I love and that I think you will love too.

Sharing is caring!

Do you want to develop a positive mental attitude?  I know this can be hard to do and can be even harder to maintain.

I like to think of myself as an optimistic, seeing the glass-half-full sort of person the majority of the time.

I’ll admit that a positive mental attitude hasn’t always come naturally to me and I do still have moments of “I can’t do it” thinking.

Every day we encounter negativity – in the news, from other people.

Our pre-historic ancestors living out in the wilds were exposed and relatively defenceless.  As a result, they stood a pretty good chance of being eaten by bigger, badder, species.  Those who survived were sharply attuned to this possibility.

We no longer have a regular need to run from predators but the evolutionary imprint known as the ‘negativity bias’ remains.

This negativity bias leaves us with a greater sensitivity to negative than to positive events.  Whilst this bias may be useful in an encounter with a sabre-toothed tiger,  it is less useful in the day to day situations of the 21st century.

Many studies have shown that optimism can lead to better health.

The Guardian reported an 8-year study of more than 70,000 women. The study concluded that optimists were less likely than pessimists to die from cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung conditions or infections.

So a positive mental attitude is good for our health.  With that in mind, here are my 11 proven tips to bring more positivity to your day.

1.  Start your day on a positive note

You know the feeling – you really do feel like you ‘go out of the wrong side of the bed’ and the day is going from bad to worse.

What you do first thing in the morning can often set the tone for your whole day.

If you get off to a negative start, feelings of pessimism can linger.

So, have a positive start to the day and it becomes a lot easier to breeze along with optimism.

Here are a few ideas to get your day off to a positive start:

  • Drink some water and eat a healthy breakfast.  Or take breakfast with you if you don’t feel hungry first thing.  You’re probably a bit dehydrated after a night’s sleep so a glass of water can help set you up for the day
  • Listen to something positive.  I love to listen to inspirational podcasts or audiobooks on the commute into work.  Listening to uplifting music (and singing along in the car) is also an excellent way to feel upbeat
  • Decide on your most important ‘must do’ for the day.  And then do it!  Ideally as early in the day as possible, before distractions get in the way

geo notebook pinkThis cute notebook from Paperchase is perfect for writing your to-do list in!

2.  Picture your success

Picture Your Success

As a born worrier I’ve always found it very easy to picture all manner of catastrophes!  Seeing me achieving my goals in my mind’s eye is more difficult.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods use the visualisation technique to great effect.

Arnie says “When I was very young I visualised myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it.”

The trick is to visualise yourself in the PRESENT MOMENT, i.e. not at some point in the future.

For example, you really want a sports car.

Visualise yourself getting into the sports car, how the seats feel, what it smells like.  Then imagine starting the engine, imagine how it sounds. Feel the joy in owning that car.

You can apply this technique to any situation.

Say you have a big scary presentation coming up.  Try the following:

  • Sit quietly for 5 minutes and visualise setting up for the presentation
  • Visualise how confident and well-rehearsed you feel as the audience arrives
  • Imagine the room and the chatter of the audience before you begin
  • Visualise yourself delivering the presentation with confidence
  • Imagine you can hear the applause at the end

3.  Record your actual success

Record Your Success

Start recording your achievements.

Do this in whatever way suits you best; photographs, journal, make a video, whatever!

For example, I make a habit of reviewing all my work achievements on a Friday afternoon and writing them down in a word document.

I note:

  • The specifics of what I achieved
  • Anyone I need to thank for helping me with my achievement
  • Who I need to tell about my achievement

Looking back over everything I have achieved so far gives a huge boost to my mood.

4.  Meditate


Meditation might sound a bit scary and conjure up images of shaven-headed monks sitting cross-legged.

It needn’t be this way as meditation is simply about enjoying the moment.  Use your 5 senses to pay attention to what surrounds you and the people you are with.

Just a few minutes is all you need to quiet your mind and refocus.

Check out my beginners’ guide to meditation.

I also recommend an app called Insight Timer

The app has guided meditations of all durations and types. It also has lots of resources to help beginners take those first steps into meditation.

The excellent free Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course at palousemindfulness is also worth a look.

If you have limited time, try the following:

  • Spend 1-2 minutes taking in the world around you. Take a breath and focus 100% on what is around you right now. What can you see?  what can you hear?  Focus on how your skin feels –  are you hot or cold?  Is there a breeze?  Feel your clothes.  Can you smell or taste anything?
  • Spend 1-2 minutes focusing on your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, breathing into your belly through your nose.  Focus on the air as you inhale and exhale.  If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breathing.

11 proven strategies for a positive mental attitude

5.  Say thank you.

Spend a few moments each day noting what you are grateful for. This might include your health, a roof over your head, your friends or having food on the table.

I also make a point each evening of noting in my journal 3 good things that have happened that day.

Recent highlights include:

  • Eating ice cream on a hot day
  • Stumbling across a classic car rally on holiday
  • Watching a great film
  • A night out with friends
  • Buds on my clematis

Even on a bad day, I have never failed yet to come up with 3 good things. They can be as simple as I had something delicious for tea or the sun shone.

6.  Help someone else

Help Someone Else


[tweetshare tweet=”We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love – Mother Teresa” username=”alisonw30″]

Research supports the idea that performing acts of kindness will make you happier.

College students were asked to perform 5 random acts of kindness each week for 6 weeks. During this time they experienced a significant boost in happiness.

So, get out of your own head and help someone else.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and tell them you’re thinking of them
  • Do some voluntary work
  • Let someone else go first in the queue
  • Give someone a compliment
  • Make a donation
  • Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger

 7.  Know this too will pass

I was going through a stressful time recently and someone gave me the sage advice that ‘this too will pass’.

Accept that nothing is permanent. Not this intense emotion, not this thing which is happening, not life.

You will (as I have) feel happy again.

Related post:  12 lessons I learned in 12 months

8.  Write a to-do list and plan that positive mental attitude!

To Do List

This may not be for everyone I realise as people plan and organise in different ways.

I find that keeping a list of what I need to do and when I need to do helps, particularly if I’m feeling overwhelmed.  (The ‘when’ part is  important otherwise it can feel like a very long list!)

I also log ideas in my phone throughout the day or jot them down in a notebook at night to get what I’m thinking out of my head.

Doing something that helps you feel organised, cleaning out a drawer, sorting the washing out or putting the pots away, can also be therapeutic.

9.  Surround yourself with positive people

A colleague of mine came up with the perfect name to describe those with a negative outlook on life – ‘mood hoovers’!

Yes, it’s sometimes difficult as you don’t always have a choice, but try to surround yourself with positive as opposed to toxic people as much as you can.

The more you can do this, the more likely you are to pick up on their energy and start developing a positive mental attitude yourself.

10.  Smile though your heart is aching

Smile Though Your Heart Is Aching

Or even when it isn’t!

It’s hard to be negative when you are smiling from ear to ear.

There are many studies out there to make you smile, or at least to remind you why you should!

Researchers at the University of Kansas published findings that smiling can help to reduce the body’s response to stress and lower heart rate in tense situations.

Another study suggests that smiling leads to longevity.

Smiling can have a massive impact on wellbeing.  So, smile in your car, at work, at strangers, at the gym, in the supermarket, even when you are alone!

I’ve tried this and can guarantee it works, it is impossible to feel grumpy and negative with a big grin on your face!

11.  Exercise

If I can feel the negative thoughts building I often find a short burst of exercise is enough to change my mindset.

Even better, go for a walk in nature.  A recent study found the benefits of a single exposure to nature can last for 7 hours!  Definitely, a reason to get the walking boots out!


It’s proven that any time spent exercising is time well spent. Exercise releases tension and worry.  It helps focus the mind and puts you in a much better place to handle what is going on in your life.

So there we have it, 11 practical tips you can put into action to develop a positive mental attitude today!

I’m sure you can think of many more.  Let me know anything I’ve missed and tell me about how you stay positive in the comments section!

Sharing is caring!

  1. Charmain Lee

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I have found staying positive very difficult whenever things go wrong in my life. I try to take things one step at a time to keep myself from being overwhelmed, and also counting my blessings as you’ve advised, but it doesn’t come easy. I sometimes try to meditate too, but often find myself getting distracted (suddenly parts of my body that were fine before suddenly begin to itch?!).

    Insight Timer is not bad, but you might be interested in a few others that I think work quite well. They are Relax Melodies – http://www.ipnos.com/apps/relax-melodies/ – which helps me sleep at night; Headspace – http://www.headspace.com – which has some free guides; and Breathe In https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/breathe-in/id1242508538?mt=8 – which is quite calming. I also watch ASMR videos to de-stress, though I appreciate that’s not for everyone! 😀

    1. Alison

      Hi Charmain

      Thanks for the reply. I will definitely check out the Ipnos website as I do have problems sleeping at times. Not heard of ASMR videos before, will look into those also!

      I think taking one thing at a time is very good advice. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you start thinking too far ahead. I don’t find all of this easy either, but when I’m not finding it easy I do try and tell myself that I will feel better again and that how I am feeling is temporary. I am definitely a work in progress though 😀

  2. Cris

    These are some great tips! I wasn’t feeling very well today, but for surely my mood boosted after reading your article!

    1. Alison

      Hi Cris

      I’m pleased that my post has helped to boost your mood and make you feel a bit better 🙂

  3. Scott Gombar

    Great tips. I surround myself with my kids. Is that positive? Just kidding. They’re the most positive people I know.

    I need to get back to exercising in the morning

    1. Alison

      I think I need to write a post about how to behave more like a kid 😀

  4. Frank

    I love this so absolutely much! Staying positive in even the worst of times will be a light that can carry you through any tough time. I like especially your tip that nothing is permanent. Life goes up and down, so remember during the down times they are only temporary!

    Helping others is another really great tip. Yes, it takes some of our time and effort, but there is no better feeling than being able to help someone else. 🙂

    1. Alison

      Glad you enjoyed my article. I agree helping others is a really good thing to do, a definite mood booster and well worth the effort 🙂

  5. Christa

    These are great tips. I always feel so much better when I wake up early to exercise. (The Starbucks I get myself on the way home helps, too.)

  6. Preet

    Oh wow, definitely needed this today. thank you for posting this and allow our day start right and positive.

    1. Alison

      Glad you enjoyed the post and that it helped your day to start off on the right foot 🙂

  7. Puja

    Some good reminders! It is always helpful to read more of such positive posts.

  8. Elizabeth O

    This is such a motivating post! I really feel like you provided some great positive tips and I got a lot from this post indeed.

    1. Alison

      Thanks for reading Elizabeth, I am glad that you enjoyed the post 🙂

  9. Emily Leary

    There are some great tips here including some that I use every day. Recording small successes really works for me. I find it very motivating as it shows me that I am always making strides forward, even on the hardest or least positive feeling days.

    1. Alison

      Hi Emily. That’s something I have found really useful too. It might not feel like you have got very far on one particular day, but when you look back over your notes, you realise how far you have come!

  10. Geraldine

    A little late but I love all of these tips, it’s so important to read these texts as a reminder for yourself! I always try to think of the reward that I will get in the end, because it keeps me going!

  11. Abby

    I am grateful to you for making this fabulous list of positive things! There are so many times when I get in a rut, and I don’t think anything will get me out. But once I make myself do SOMETHING, it always gets better. I think this is such a good post for today, Mental Health Awareness Day. I hope everyone reads and benefits from it like I did!💗

    1. Alison

      Hi Abby, I know what you mean, some days it is hard to get out of a rut! I’ve found having a bit of a ‘toolkit’ of different things is helpful. If I try one thing and it doesn’t help, then I try the others!

  12. Loniesha

    These tips are so important to our daily lives & while I try to do them, sometimes it’s really hard. This was the perfect reminder that I needed.

    1. Alison

      If it’s any consolation, I find it really hard sometimes too. I have to remind myself often! It’s easy to slip back into bad habits when we are busy. Glad you found the post useful 🙂

  13. Latisha

    Such a great blog post! Thanks for sharing with us again. Positivity rules the world with one smile at a time!

  14. Michelle

    These are all great tips. I’m usually very unmotivated to exercise unless I take a quick walk in the morning. Then I have energy all day. Helping others always makes me feel great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.