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How to Stay Positive When Life is Bad

Updated on October 20, 2012

Sometimes Life is Just Going to be Bad

I have to wonder why some people are surprised when life throws them a curve or when things get bad. I mean, do people really believe that life is always going to be a "bed of roses?"

Life can really take it out of you and it seems to take a double portion from those who are already negative about life. It's just not easy to stay positive when life is bad. So what are you going to do?

Sure, you may get a positive boost from that latest book or seminar, but remaining upbeat and positive every day, day-after-day is tough. Breaking the habit of negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive, upbeat thoughts and attitudes is one of the biggest challenges many people face in life.

Remaining upbeat and positive has tremendous benefits: being optimistic allows you to see things differently, to be happier and provides the energy necessary to overcome the daily challenges of this life. Positive people are also just more attractive to those around them.


How a Single Hot Dog Changed my Daughter's Perspective on Life

A few years back, my daughter was complaining about how small our house seemed. She had just come home from a weekend with one of her friends who lived in one of those huge mansion-like houses.

Her friend's parents also drove nice cars - a brand newCadillac Escalade and a brand new Hummer. When my daughter returned to our humble abode, everything seemed different, somehow less than what she now expected.


I thought this would pass but it went on for about a week and seemed to be getting more intense with each passing day.

I work with a children's home in Nigeria and one of the doctors who spends a good deal of time over there is a good friend of mine.

I decided to take my daughter to a business meeting with the good doctor. As we concluded our business for the evening, Fred began to tell a story of the last Christmas at the children's home.

The conditions over there are appallingly bad and these kids are living in what most people would consider extreme poverty. Anything they can get over there is a gift in the truest sense of the word. On this last Christmas, one of the young boys only wanted a single gift - a simple hot dog.

Apparently he had never had one before and wanted one so badly that he was willing to forego all other gifts to get the chance at eating a hot dog. Suffice it to say that my daughter was transformed immediately and I didn't hear any more complaints.

There is a good lesson here. The way she started to feel better about life was to find out about how difficult it was for these children in Nigeria. Suddenly, her house wasn't so small anymore and when she compared her life to those less fortunate, her life looked pretty good. If you want to stay positive, consider those who don't have what you have.


5 Good Ways to Stay Positive

This, too, shall pass

So says the old proverb. When it seems the weight of the world is bearing down on you, overwhelming you, maybe to the point of seeming unbearable, one thing is for sure - these negative feelings won't last forever. Eventually, you will start to feel better, Start looking for that light at the end of the tunnel (and NO, it's not a train!).

Gratitude Journal

This is similar to what I was talking about in the main article. For what are you grateful? Start by listing the obvious things like food, water, etc., and then move on from there. It is too easy to indulge in self-pity, anger and blame. Instead of doing that, make a list of the good things in life. Make an entry one or two time each week.

See Good in Bad

This is not easy at times but you can do it if you want to bad enough. If you wake up at 5:30 a.m., don't look at it as missing sleep, rather, look at it as an opportunity to see a sunrise. This takes work but it is possible because I have done it. Now don't think I have been completely successful in this but I see every new day as an opportunity to do better.

Worst Case Scenario

Sometimes the fear of something happening, the anticipation of doom, is actually worse than the anticipated event. Really, what is the worst that can happen? If you can look at life like that, you're going to be a whole lot better off - and most likely live a lot longer.

Help Someone

The act of reaching out to help someone less fortunate is a sure-fire way to stay positive about life. I'm not completely sure how it does what it does, but I think people are supposed to help one another. Helping others makes us feel good about ourselves, those folks around us and life in general. Pick up the phone and call your Mom (it will likely make her week), take food to a sick friend or volunteer at a soup kitchen or halfway house.

All of these will help you stay positive when life is bad.

Granny Told Me to Make Lemonade

OK, so we have all heard that tired old expression - if life hands you lemons, make lemonade. My granny always said that to us growing up and she was a woman who had been handed a raw deal in life.

She grew up a child of the Great Depression of the 1930's and had learned many life lessons during those years.

One story I remember in particular was how she and her siblings would make their own toys. One of her favorites was a piece of broken plate she found and adopted as her dolly. She fashioned a crude dress out of a scrap of burlap - and that was her favorite toy.

Every time I heard her talk about this it would always make me feel better about myself. I figured if she could accept a ceramic shard as a doll, I could accept some of the bad things in my life and make them my "dolly."

When Granny talked about making lemons out of lemonade, it wasn't just a meaningless saying to her. She had lived in a time when life was extremely difficult for many people.

She had truly struggled and made something better from the experience. Granny knew the recipe for making lemonade from lemons - she knew how to manage her perceptions no matter how bad things seemed.


Failure as a Teacher

After I graduated from college and worked a bit in the ad industry, I wanted to strike out on my own. I could see I was going to be happier if I started my own company - which I did. The whole process of building a business was difficult but very rewarding.

I was able to keep going even when things got extremely tough because I had a good friend and mentor who told me one important thing - success comes only after learning from many failures.

I followed his advice - even when I thought he was dead wrong - and discovered in the long run that he was right. I failed a lot in those early years but I carefully studied each failure and never made the same mistake twice.

Eventually, the business was successful. The lessons I had learned at the feet of my failures had prepared me for the success that came later. I saw failure as a positive thing from that day.


The lesson here is that failure should not be seen as negative, rather, failure is just one less obstacle between you and happiness.

Do you have failed relationships in your life? Who doesn't? Does it seem like your whole life has been a failure? Think how much you are learning!

Failure is gonna happen and it's gonna happen to some people more than others - so what? What will you do? How will you respond to a broken relationship? Will you let it pull you down or will you grieve it's passing and prepare yourself for the next relationship?

It's all about what happens after you fall on your face. Life is going to hit you with some bad stuff. You shouldn't be surprised when things go bad. When you're done being down there with your face in the dust and you finally poke your head up, which direction will you be looking?

There are only two ways to go here - back into the dust or get up, slap off the dust and get moving down the path.

In which direction will you be going today?



This Book Showed Me How to See Life in a Positive Way...

Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer

I don't normally recommend a specific book but this book had such a profound effect on my way of thinking that it literally changed who I was. After you read it, try the 24 hour challenge Ms. Littauer prescribes - I would love to know how you did...


Positive or Negative Outlook on Life...

Do you think the way you look at life has an effect on the decisions you make in life?

See results


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    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      CZCZCZ - Thanks for the kind words and reminder to remain focused on the good things! Best, M

    • CZCZCZ profile image


      5 years ago from Oregon

      Great story about your daughter and the hot dog. Staying positive is half the challenge in my opinion, always good to read articles like this to remember to stay focused on the good things.

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Thank you, kashmir56! Stay on the sunny side of the street!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub, i always look at the positive side of everything, it makes life better that way !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • MKayo profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks, bullybuc!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I am a huge believer in positive outlook on life, so I endorse this hub completely. Great suggestions my friend!


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