How To Remain Positive In Difficult Times [7 Ways]
During a tough time of my life I learned how to stay positive in difficult times.
My parents were fighting. Dad’s drinking was the problem.
At school, I was bullied, brutally. Beaten up many times. Humiliated.
I longed to escape. So I hid away from the world, secluded into my bedroom, playing Nintendo for hours every day.
Escape did not help.
The more I hid away, the more negative thoughts ate away at my mind. This was before I discovered the secret ways to handle negative thinking.
I felt worthless. I felt empty inside. I considered running away from home. I even packed my bags and prepared to leave one night. Until I thought of my mum and how much I would miss her.
Escape is never the right answer. Because, as Buddha said:
Running away from a situation rarely achieves anything.
It took me years to learn that.
When I was 20 and in university I started meditating. For the first time in my life I felt true inner peace.
Lying in my university room on campus staring at the ceiling, it occurred to me that even though my life had been hard, most of my demons were in my mind.
To find happiness I needed to remove demons from my mind.
The only way to rid myself of those demons was from within. It was by changing my mindset that I would truly escape.
It’s the same for us all.
According to the National Opinion Research Center, 92 of Americans face at least one major negative even in their lifetime.
The right mindset gives us the strength to survive tough times in life.
To stay positive, make use of these 7 tips.All human unhappiness comes from not facing reality squarely, exactly as it is Click To Tweet
How To Remain Positive In Difficult Times [7 Ways]
These excellent techniques help us to stay positive and to handle negative emotions positively.
1: To Stay Positive In Negative Times, Meditate daily
If you’re truly going to stay positive in negative situations, you’re going to need inner peace and calm.
For most people, it is too easy to become angry or upset when negative situations arise.
By meditating daily you ensure that you’re always starting out on the right foot. You can make sure that your baseline is calm and positive. That way you’re more equipped to deal with negative situations when they occur.
But what meditation technique should you do?
Take a look at my guide to the different types of meditation. I’ll help you find the right technique for you.
2: To Remain Positive During Tough Times, Tell Yourself It’ll Pass
So you’re going through a difficult time. And you’re struggling to stay positive. Take the heat off yourself. Remind yourself the moment will pass.
Life is like a journey on which we take many paths. Some paths are easy to walk, they’re joyous, they’re enjoyable. Others are harder. But the difficult paths you cross will lead you towards another positive path.
When something negative happens, tell yourself “It’s just a moment. It’ll pass”.
When my father past away last year I was deeply upset. I faced sadness and grief.
This was one time when I truly needed to know how to stay positive in difficult times. I got through by changing the way I was thinking. Every time I thought a sad thought, I would force myself to remember a happy time with my father.
This trains the mind not to be falsely positive (which is never helpful) but to balance the negative with the positive.
This is one of my favorite positive thinking strategies.
3: To Stay Positive, Take it as a challenge
Hands up who likes a good challenge? I know I do.
Negative situations are now one of my favourite challenges. Every time something negative happens, I tell myself, “This is a test of my positivity”. The challenge gives me the motivation to stay positive, similar to how we fight to keep going when we’re running a marathon or conquering some other difficult physical feat.
When we look at tough situations like a challenge, we change our mindset. We start to use the negative energy in positive ways.
Sometimes the key to happiness and success is to refuse to give in, and persevere.
4: To Remain Positive, get by with a little help from my friends
I count myself lucky to have some absolutely amazing friends.
In November 2013 I had an incident in which I passed out and was rushed to hospital.
It was terrifying.
I’d been totally fine, and I hadn’t had anything to drink or anything like that. So suddenly passing out and waking up in an ambulance was a major stress. But there was my very good friend Vince. Vince is an amazing guy, the type of guy who’s there for everyone. He rode in the ambulance with me, stayed in the hospital with me, and when I was let go, he took me out for a meal. Damn good friend. I am so grateful.
Turn to your friends at tough times. They will be there.
One of the things I’ve learnt with age is that when you ask people for help they are genuinely pleased to help you. You’re not being a burden. You’re not irritating anyone. People love to help. Being kind makes people happy. Heck, personally there are very few things in life that make me happier than helping a friend. When you’re facing a negative time, let your friends be there for you.
Another great way to stay positive is to focus on someone else’s problems. Help someone else instead. Take a look at my guides to helping someone with depression and helping someone with anxiety. And trust me, when you help someone else you will feel a million times better.
5: To remain positive, realise its not as bad as it feels
I bet you your situation is not as bad as you think it is.
I’ve been through a lot of rough times in my life (my father dying, going through depression, immigrating…). During those negative times, life seemed to tough to take. But now I look back it is obvious to me that not one negative situation in my life was actually as bad as I thought it was.
Sometimes the mind goes crazy and your imagination blows things out of proportion.
Evolution has trained the mind to think of the worst, because when we are prepared for the worst we are more able to survive it. Hence, negative thinking is essential to survival. But in the 21st Century we no longer need to think that every shadow on the wall is a T-Rex.
Rein-in your negativity.
Things probably are not as bad as they seem. You’re going to get through. Good times will come again. Let’s keep everything in perspective.
This is particularly true when you’re dealing with other people. The human mind tends to perceive other people as threats because, again, of evolution. People that were more prepared to defend themselves were less likely to be killed. This is not helpful today, however. It is time we stop thinking of everyone in negative terms.
Are you upset because of something someone else has done? Did you expect too much from them? If so, know this; they almost definitely did not do anywhere near as much harm as you think they did, and their motivations were probably not malicious.
6: Stay positive by living in the moment
Living in the moment is one of the main traits of positive people
Living in the moment helps us to not get stuck in the mind. Remember, the mind is often the real source of pain. By being mindful, we prevent ourselves from getting lost in negatives, such as painful memories.
One of the best ways how to stay positive in difficult times is by being mindful. Stay in the moment. And whatever you do, don’t sink into your own head.
Mindfulness is a powerful way of relieving stress and anxiety. When you focus your mind on the present moment you immediately nullify negative feelings and emotions.
7: To remain positive in hard times, do something fun
One of the best ways to stay positive in difficult times is by forcing yourself to have fun.
When you’re in a negative situation the last thing you feel like doing is singing, dancing, goofing around, or laughing. However, those are perhaps the very things you should do. Because the moment you act in positive ways, you escape the negative mindset.
Do something fun. The negativity will vanish.
I learned this in 2012 when a doctor told me I had had a heart attack. At 30 years of age I was not prepared to hear that I had sufffered a heart attack. But that was what the doctor told me. I suffered a stress reaction. For several days I felt like hell. Then, I started to live, love, sing and dance anyway. And one month later, after more results, it turned out that the doctor was wrong, and the heart-attack scare was actually nothing.
I hope this list helps you to stay positive through whatever you are going through.
I thought it might help if I made an infographic you can print out (or you can share it on your own blog and on social media).
Here’s how to stay positive when life sucks just too damn much
Sometimes nothing is wrong. Life is not hard. But we feel negative anyway. Basically, it feels like life sucks.
Here’s what I do in these situations.
1. When life sucks I breathe into my heart space.
I roll my shoulders and stretch myself out. Then, I force myself to inhale deeply. While inhaling deeply I focus my mind on the sensation of my breath entering my body. I allow the oxygen to stir inside of me, and while I’m breathing deep I imagine all that negativity, all that trash emptying out of me, and positivity, fresh life, coming in.
2: When life sucks I sing like I mean it
I sing. But I don’t just half assedly hum along, no no. I sing like I really really mean it. I’ll be driving through town. They’ll be some guy revving his engine and blaring out heavy metal while scowling at everyone. That’s when I love to turn my stereo on and sing my heart out. And I also like to wave at the metal head guy. Because I want to see if I can make him laugh or smile. And sometimes I do. Sometimes I do. And that moment, that moment of seeing the grunge-loving man smiling like a little kid; that’s a moment I’ll never forget.
3: When life sucks I Laugh
Do you know how hard it is to stay unhappy while you’re laughing. Laughter shines a bright light inside and tears through the shadows like a katana through paper. Lughter is an expression of pure positivity. It dissolves negativity like salt under boiling water.
4:When life sucks I express gratitude
Even at the darkest of times there are plenty of leaves in the trees and birds singing all around. There is always something to be thankful for. At dark time I like to seek out the light interwoven among the shade, the positive among the negative, and having found it, I express thanks for it. If you think life sucks right now, it can only be because life has been better previously right?
Dark reveals light, and for that at least I can be thankful for the bad times, because they make the line shine that much brighter. If you need some ideas of things to be thankful for, try this list of 101 things to be grateful for.
5: When life sucks I creatively express the pain
There’s a pain at the heart of all creativity. The great artists are usually the tortured ones. Pain is like oil in the engine of the creative brain. Pain yearns to come out through art, whether it’s the tortured voice of Silvia Plath, the melancholy of Van Gogh, or the agonised spirit of Mozart’s final works, pain has long been at the heart of the world’s greatest artworks. When you feel the pain, allow it to come seeping through your pores and onto the page or screen. And for the full cathartic experience, indulge in some true art therapy.
6: When life sucks I Eat
Food. Yum. I have to admit I don’t mind comfort eating from time to time. I’m reasonably healthy, so why not indulge in yummy food occasionally? And I do find that cooking offers powerful purgation. There’s just something about being in the kitchen with a ton of different ingredients around, and then creatively working those ingredients into something vaguely resembling food. I call it my Zen Cooking Time.
7: When life sucks I snuggle cats and other pets
Animal therapy really is amazing. Researchers have scientifically proven that pets cure stress. To be honest I don’t know why they had to scientifically prove that. Cuddling cats is proof in itself, surely. I’ll also snuggle family and friends. If I’m upset and you’re around I quite probably will snuggle you, so there, you’ve been warned. Snuggling is one of life’s best comforts. Find someone you love and snug away.
Thanks for reading.
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Paul Martin Harrison
Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.