Self

23 Life Coaches & Experts Share Small, Daily Habits That Help You Keep A Positive Outlook

Photo: Cookie Studio / shutterstock.com 
Black woman in headphones, smiling at camera

If only it was as simple as the empty idioms suggest to maintain a positive attitude every day.

Keep your chin up. Snap out of it.

Things could be worse.

Don't worry.

Be happy.

OK, then. Guess we can just ... wish positive feelings into existence. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

We all know it's not that easy. The world has a way of reminding us that life can be hard and that Pollyanna was a fictional (and, frankly, a bit annoying) archetype.

Yet, positivity really is good for the soul — also, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it's a balm for the mind and body

This is not to discount the scourge of toxic positivity, which is a real issue and can harm your mental health. 

Still, it's no fun to spend the day stewing in our own bitter and jaundiced juices. 

What we wanted to know was how we could cultivate a sense of calm, personal well-being and inner peace by leaning into the daily pursuit of healthy, positive thinking.

To find out, we asked a panel of YourTango Experts to share small habits that can help us maintain a positive outlook.

RELATED: 7 Vital Habits Of Optimistic People That Tend To Be The Happiest

23 experts share small, daily habits to help you keep a positive outlook

1. Establish a regular morning routine

Create and stick with a morning practice. It's important you create your own.

Here's mine as an example:

  • Feed the cat (boy, do they know how to get their needs met...that's why they're so happy.).
  • Drink some water.
  • Meditate.
  • Exercise.
  • Watch an inspirational video.
  • Review the day's schedule.

That daily routine makes for a less stressful, more optimistic mindset, and day. One hour, first thing, makes the whole day brighter!

- Kathryn Brown Ramsperger, author and coach

RELATED: 8 Morning Routine Habits To Kick Off Your Day With Positivity

2. Guide your mind to where you want to go each day

Start your day by telling yourself: "I am setting my mind to peace today. I am setting my mind to happiness today. I am setting my mind to abundance today."

And as you tell your mind, instruct your mind, it does what you want it to do.

- Michelle Molitor, CPCC, PCC, RTT, CHt

3. Make your bed every morning

Making the bed each day! May seem silly but this one item can change your whole outlook.

I used to not take it seriously and then I chose to explore the ripple effect of taking this action that says, "I am ready for the day. I am being proactive and taking care of all the little things that are in my control."

Often in life, we feel out of control and unmotivated. By taking small actions that speak to these ideas and feelings of being proactive, we shift our entire mindset and claim our lives.

- Rene Schooler, sex and relationship coach

RELATED: The Only Thing You Need To Keep By Your Bed To Absorb Negative Energy

4. Create a personal meditation

I meditate every morning. It's a short, unique type of meditation.

That is, I get my first cup of coffee and take it to my meditation corner, where I have a cushion to sit on and many candles on a small table. I light the candles and play my six-minute music meditation (same one each morning as I feel I've wired my brain to it).

I then meditate, focusing on the feeling of the warmth of the cup in my hands, the taste of the coffee, the sound of the music, and the flickering of the candles.

This small practice sets my day off right with a present-moment focus.

Laurie Mintz, sexuality psychologist

5. Surround yourself with favorite photos and objects

Keep favorite photos and objects around the house. Take time to appreciate them when you first wake up.

It will give you a lift for the day.

- Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, positive psychologist 

RELATED: How To Raise Your Vibration Emotionally, Physically & Spiritually

6. Hum a favorite tune

Each day as you are waking up, bring to mind a song with positive lyrics or a jingle that makes you chuckle.

I use "It's gonna be a great day!" from an old commercial jingle. Sing the tune of your choice to yourself (in your head is fine) with positive words 1-3 times.

You'll start the day with a positive attitude and the intention that things are going to work in your favor.

By the way, you can do this while you're still half asleep. It will help you get out of bed and have a positive outlook naturally.

- Laura Rubinstein, hypnotherapist

RELATED: 5 Ways Expressive Arts Therapy Heals You

7. Use trial and error to find your groove

The habit that helps you maintain a positive outlook is not a one-size-fits-all.

Find what that is for you. For me, I need my morning workout. Others might want a 10-minute meditation, an hour of time without a cell phone, or affirmations.

Try trial and error until you find what works for you.

- Erika Jordan, love coach

8. Commune with your body 

To build better awareness and relationship with your body and yourself, tune into your body each morning and evening and notice any spots that jump out to you.

Ask that part what it wants you to know, then treat the answer like expert advice.

- Tabatha Bird Weaver, LMFT, LPC

RELATED: 3 Things People Who Love & Accept Their Bodies Know About Fitness (That The Rest Of Us Don't)

9. Set the tone mentally early in the day

Intend as you wake what tone the day will take. Enjoy embodying that intended tone throughout your day.

- Angela Bixby, founder, Energy Intuit

10. Still your mind

So, how to still your mind? When you learn to meditate and notice everything as a passing phase, the good and not the good, you become part of the greater universe and what’s going on around you does not bother you negatively.

You have more compassion within you so you stay positive and can help others around you who are affected by negativity.

- Keya Murthy, clinical hypnotherapist

RELATED: I Tried Hypnotherapy For The First Time & Ended By Thanking Julie Andrews

11. Embrace your spirituality

I am deeply spiritual, and in the last couple of years, when I have a meal, I say a prayer of thanks for the food and nurturance to my body.

Then I send blessings to those who helped bring it to my table.

Then I thank my Enlightened Beings for their protection, their guidance, and most of all, their enduring love.

It is a quiet prayer, just me and the universe, not for show, and it quiets my mind and puts me into a gratitude mindset. This habit makes a profound difference in keeping me centered and positive daily.

- Merle Yost, LMFT

12. 'Charge' your daily intentions

Set a mindful and emotionally-charged intention daily.

Pamela Aloia, energy guide

RELATED: Why You Need To Walk Away From Anyone Who Gives You Bad Vibes 

13. Intentionally shift your perspective

 First, block out a few minutes at the start of your day by listing whatever you are looking forward to.

Maybe it’s your morning cup of coffee or that true crime podcast you listen to on your commute.

Later, as you are winding down, budget some time to reflect on what you enjoyed about the day, no matter how small. Maybe you heard a funny joke. Maybe you found some unexpected wisdom driving past a fast-food sign.

The point: As you make room at the start and end of your days, you will find yourself becoming more aware of all the little things that can shape your outlook. And as you become more aware of these things, you will be more likely to appreciate them.

I know it can’t fix everything, but sometimes shifting our perspectives can go a long way.

- Miki Anderson, mental health counselor

RELATED: A Simple Way To Get Rid Of (Almost) All Of Your Problems

14. Savor flavors — and experiences

One enjoyable habit to cultivate that will help you maintain a positive outlook is savoring. This applies to food of course, but also to experiences.

You can anchor a positive experience in your memory by focusing your full attention on the present as it’s happening.

With food, you do this by bringing awareness to all of your sensations — the sight, smell, mouth-feel, sounds, and of course the taste.

And it’s the same process for other experiences. Try to notice not only what is going on around you but also what is going on inside — that is, the physical sensations and emotions that are present.

This helps you slow down and fully enjoy positive experiences. And it helps you create and save a complete memory of your experience.

There are two other ways to enhance your experience of savoring. These are through anticipation and reminiscing.

Think of it as the fun of planning your vacation and the joy of looking back on your photos afterward. You can apply this idea to any experience, even small ones like your morning cup of coffee or the loving gaze of your child.

In this way, you are enhancing what is enjoyable and positive in your life and creating ready access to memories of these experiences which you can call up whenever times get tough.

How a mindset of gratitude contributes to positivity

Eight of our 23 respondents mentioned gratitude as a key to maintaining a positive outlook — it was the most popular answer to our query.

Below, we've collected their insight into thankfulness and appreciation.

15. Count your blessings each day

If you want to start off being happy any day of the week — be grateful.

There are unlimited things to be grateful for — your home, family, fresh air, trees, nature, freedom, love, kindness, compassion, and on and on. Pick four of five each day (not the same ones) and feel gratitude.

- Jean Walters, spiritual counselor

16. Practice spiritual, physical, and mental gratitude

During my morning daily meditation, I feel gratitude for all that I have and for the day that lies ahead.

Positivity in thought and in behaviors starts with our daily morning routines. I love the 45 minutes I spend in quiet meditation.

It feels like by doing this practice I make the spiritual, physical and mental aspects of my being feel supported and a priority.

If someone has never meditated, starting with five or 10 minutes, in the morning can change their attitude for the whole day.

- Janet Whitney, LMFT

17. Spark thoughts of appreciation

Practicing a small daily habit can play an important role in maintaining a positive outlook. One simple way to achieve this is by taking five minutes each morning or evening to pause, reflect and express gratitude.

This daily “gratitude ritual” has the potential to shift your mindset into gratitude, sparking thoughts of appreciation for yourself and those around you.

In addition to bridging the gap between stress and optimism, taking time out of each day for self-reflection can prove beneficial to your mental well-being in other ways, too. 

When you become more aware of your thoughts throughout the day and learn how to manage them, you are more equipped to cope with difficult emotions that may arise.

- Clare Waismann, registered addiction specialist and founder of the Waismann Method

18. Give your 'gratitude muscle' a workout

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to maintain a positive outlook is to give thanks.

Create a daily gratitude ritual that sticks either first thing when you wake up, during your morning coffee, before a meal, or as you lay your head on the pillow.

Start small to build your 'gratitude muscle.'

Say, “I’m grateful for my breath” or soak up your surroundings, noting the wonder of kids playing in the park, the grounding feeling of the earth under your feet, or the beauty of a sunset.

From there, you can notice and appreciate other things in your life — even the difficult things that have taught you important life lessons. Increasingly, you'll remember the good that's happening for you, and that attitude will permeate your every day.

- Lisa Petsinis, career and life coach

19. Pick three things every day to appreciate

Finding three things each day you are grateful for is a small habit that will change your life.

- Kimberly LaFollette, clinical psychologist

RELATED: 3 Ways To Be More Positive By Highlighting The Good In Life

20. End your day with feelings of gratitude

Go to bed every night by taking a few minutes to express gratitude for the day's experiences. It's important that this is not just a statement, but that the gratitude is fully embodied.

See it, feel it, hear it, and allow your heart to absorb it.

- Larry Michel, love shepherd and founder of Genetic Energetics

21. Stay focused on what you're grateful for

I believe it is very important that we stay focused on all that we have to be grateful for.

Focusing on our blessings allows us to stay positive. This also allows us to stay in line with the "Laws of Attraction."

What we feed is what we get more of.

Kathy Lynn Thielen, spiritual intuitive, life and relationship coach

22. Breathe and say 'thank you' to the universe

At the start of every day, before you crawl out from under the covers, remember one thing you are thankful for and send out a message of gratitude to the universe.

Take the time to breathe, focus on an event or a person for whom you are grateful, and allow yourself to remember that event or person with gratitude and appreciation.

You can't help but have a positive outlook when you're feeling grateful. 

Judith Pinto, focus coach

23. Appreciate who you are

I begin each day thanking God for things I am grateful for and I remember that God is not a part of me, I am a part of God and the potential of good is unlimited.

Lastly, I ask to be helpful each day and give gratitude that I am who I am.

- Rev. Ellyn Kravette, psychospiritual counselor

RELATED: How To Keep A Positive Attitude In A Negative World

Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for experts & wellness for YourTango.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!