positive attitude

4 Simple Ways to Focus on the Positive

If you read any personal development advice, you’ll rather quickly come across the idea that it’s important to focus on positive aspects of life. Rather than dwelling on what could be better or what you feel you should be doing, you’re encouraged to pay attention to the areas which are already going well.

The concept makes sense: by concentrating on what’s good, we’re likely to be encouraged and motivated, and we’ll automatically start looking for ways to get more of the same. The problem, though, is how to focus on what’s positive in our lives – when it’s easy to dwell on mistakes and regrets.

These are four simple techniques to try:

Regular Gratitude Journal

I’ve got to confess, there’s something about constant “be grateful” advice that gets on my nerves a bit. Sometimes I’m just not feeling in a very grateful mood, or the whole idea can seem a bit hokey. But when I read in Richard Wiseman’s 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot that scientific studies have shown that gratitude really does make you happier, I decided I needed to take it a bit more seriously.

Ideally, you’ll spend a couple of minutes each evening jotting down a short list of things which you’re grateful for. It could be anything from a really good cup of coffee that morning to hearing your child say “I love you.”

But don’t ditch this one if a daily effort is too much – once or twice a week will still be a huge help.

Monthly Achievement Log

Over the past three years, I’ve been spending just five – ten minutes each month writing down the things which I’ve achieved. They don’t have to be a big deal: anything new, like “went ski-ing for the first time” or any particular milestones, like “finished draft one of my novel” go into the book.

This has been a great habit because it encourages you to try new things, and it also helps you look back and see what you’ve achieved. Give it a go, especially in months where you feel you haven’t accomplished much – there’ll always be more than you think!

Focus on Effort

From childhood, we’re used to being graded on our work, and praised (or not!) for the results we get. Although celebrating your achievements is definitely part of being positive, it’s also important to acknowledge effort.

If you tried hard at something, regardless of whether you fully succeeded or not, that’s important. Rather than focusing entirely on the results which you get, look at the effort you put in. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight: the scales didn’t budge this week, but you went out jogging three times. In the long run, building that consistent habit is more important than minor fluctuations in your weight.

Say “Thank You”

It costs nothing at all to say “thank you” – but it can really brighten up someone’s day. It makes you feel good, too, to focus on being pleased with someone (rather than criticizing or nagging them). Next time your partner cooks dinner, or your children tidy up their toys, say a simple “thank you”.

This is really powerful in the workplace, too; it helps you appreciate your colleagues or employees more, and it can be very motivating to them too – making the office a much more positive place to be.

What tips do you have on focusing on the positive aspects of life, rather than getting bogged down worrying about the negative ones?

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32 Responses to 4 Simple Ways to Focus on the Positive

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  2. Hi Ali,

    I agree with what you said, Ali. Focusing on what’s good brings much brighter life into us. All tips you listed sound good. They are simple and easy to start by anyone. I start my day with affirmations that keep me feeling positive and energized throughout the day.
    Thanks for the good post.

  3. Farouk says:

    like the monthly achievement log advice, very good one :)

  4. Mathieu says:


    This is great advice. I like how you focus on just adding small daily routines that will make your life more positive. And yes, as far as effort, it really is more important than the outcome, because with great effort you can go beyond failure. Failure isn’t even really failure, its a big open door for achievement.

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  5. Melvin says:

    Hi Ali,
    Thanks for your post, it gave me some ideas to contemplate. Me too didn’t pay much attention to the “Be Grateful” advice. And now that you present it and let us know about there is scientific evidence it worth take note on that and research it further. But definitively that help us focus on the positives.

    And talking about saying “Thank you” remind of me long time ago when I just started in a church group how I enjoyed to know people was getting what they was looking for spiritually and emotionally. Also I remember when I tried to help someone just offering a ride and the person declined I get a little bit sad because I felt rejected and that was help was not required. So saying thank you let people know you are please because of the good you are doing.

    Regarding my tip for focusing on the positive I suggest every time you have something that it is not how you want it think that there is a way to get want and think how to get it until you find a way…

    Melvin Ramos

  6. Melvin says:


    Just to correct the web address it is: http://www.selfhelp360.com


  7. Katie Brandt says:

    I loved your idea of a monthly achievement log. It would be great to go back and review that when I am not feeling on top of my game.

  8. Karen says:

    Great advice, Ali

    I think having a gratitude journal is really important because it changes your focus on the negative things in your life to what is positive about your life. When you think positive thoughts you are sending those out into the universe and that positive energy will come back to you. It’s very easy to feel down so when you make the effort to feel positive and grateful, it can really make a difference in your life.

    Similar to the monthly achievement log, I would suggest a daily goals book to help you concentrate on your most important goals in your life. It helps you focus on what you want to do with your life, and not the negative stuff.


  9. Thanks for sharing this! The achievement log is a great way to gauge your accomplishments! I find for myself a lot of negativity comes from being overwhelmed and not being able to take things one step at a time. Breaking things down into pieces helps me stay focused and hopeful of completing tasks whether they be long or short term. We wrote a post similar to this about how to overcome negativity/procrastination here http://bit.ly/a42qWG


  10. I really liked your first two tips about being grateful and about writing a monthly achievement list.

    I haven’t done them myself but I will definitely add it to my morning routine.

    What I usually do is write down 10 goals each morning, it really gets me focused on where I am going and lets me let go of some of the things of today.
    I also spend about 10 minutes planning my day and just getting on track.

    One thing I have found that really helps is spending some time alone in thought, for me taking a walk works best.

    I love taking my notebook a pen and just walking for a while, all kinds of great ideas pop up in my head and when I come back I feel excited, motivated and get a surge of energy.

    Thanks for the post and I look forward to reading more :)

  11. Jason Dick says:

    Focusing on effort and saying Thank you, simple yet effective advice. Excellent summary of how to stay grateful, as most of us have so many things to be grateful and positive about. Keeping this kind of focus makes it that much easier to move forward and create even more positive experiences. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Ben Tien says:

    Negative thoughts are blocking us from achieving our goals and desires. Usually, the undesirable things that happen in our lives may lead us to feel bad, angry and may cause us to hate but even though we have no control over it, we can actually choose how to respond to it.

    For the first time, it may hard for us to learn how to be more positive but we can, if we focus on the positive. Thanks for the good post!

  14. positive outlook in life turns the impossible to possible one. instead of saying “i can’t, why not say “i can”… start to think positive and everything will fall into places.

    thank you for that great post. :)

  15. GOD says:

    The opposite of light is dark , the coin has two sides , there’s both positive and negative , we need a balance of the two to achieve real enlightenment !!

    as the old saying goes , plan for the worst , hope for the best and expect something in between

    learn as i have to balance between both the plus and negatives and derive energy from both to develop real power and understanding

    we must learn not to fear the dark it gives the light a place to shine just as death is a means to an end

    without sadness and pain there would be nothing for us to compare the good things in life to

    i get the shits at people who are so blind they have to focus on only positive things living in the optimistic realm , as to with someone who thoughts are only for the negative always pessimistic outlook

    how many of us go around talking only of neutrality or common ground ? lets learn to face reality and deal with what is real

    Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody. Benjamin Franklin

  16. The only trick which works for me is that I sit down and focus on the things that I have rather than thinking about the things which I lack.

    Also, I’ve learned that be grateful for the things I have makes me feel better while thinking about the things I lack leaves me bitter.

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  20. T.v Serials says:

    You couldn’t be more correct. Focusing on the negative aspects only make them seem worse. Understanding that there will always be good and bad parts in any career is required to maintain a good overall attitude.

  21. Mat says:

    Nice post. There one thing I would like to emphasize  – it is wise to try visualization on the way of achieving your dreams. If you feel you have run out of energy to follow your dreams, it is the last moment to try as hard as possible to visualize the outcome you desire. It does not cost a penny and you can do it almost everywhere. The best thing is that people who have tried it have experienced the positive outcome. Internet is full of visualization techniques – find one and try it, you will be surprised how well it works.
    Best Regards

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  24. Sometimes you have to go to a very dark place to see the light.

  25. Some people are in the most darkest place that sorrow and sadness wash you away, and you want to help them. Nevertheless, they dismiss your help because even though they think they see, they literally blind. Hence, do not matter if they are in dark or light place because when you are literally blind you can see anything.

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