How To Keep A Positive Mind During Hard Times

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Back in the 90s, I studied Kokikai Aikido, and there are four basic principles underlying the entire art. The fourth is Positive Mind, which means, “always keep a positive mind”. This is because it’s lighter and easier than a negative mind, a rationale that I’ve largely found to be true.

These days, and the past few years really, have made keeping a positive mind quite the challenge. If you’re like me, with a place to live and means to pay the bills, it’s not so bad. Yet many others are struggling, and it seems that it’s only getting worse. So how do we maintain a positive mindset, and best of all, how do we do it on a budget? Read on! 

Healthline has some great tips, including why this benefits us and the negative effects of a negative mind. Their tips are as follows. The write-ups are my own. 

Open yourself up to humor.

Indeed, my own philosophy is that life is best faced with a sense of humor. That was before things went sideways. It REALLY helps me now.

Spend time with positive people.

I have a clipping on my bedroom mirror from Investor’s Business Daily outlining the ten habits of successful people. The very first habit is avoiding negative environments. Think success, not failure. In fact, all of the sites that I researched for this article mention hanging out with positive people.

Practice positive self-talk.

Tell yourself that you can rather than you can’t. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve noticed that all of the difference between winning and losing is that a winner identifies challenges and finds a way to deal with them, while a loser sees only why things cannot be done. Be the winner.

Identify your areas of negativity.

Our thoughts form a great deal of our reality. Negative thoughts will form a negative reality, while positive thoughts form a positive reality. Try this exercise called the 3Rs: when you notice your thoughts moving in a negative direction, Recognize this. Relax: don’t beat yourself up! Take a deep breath, then Return to the moment. Recognize, Relax, and Return.

Start every day on a positive note.

Whether it’s a positive affirmation, a happy song, or saying something nice to someone, start your day with a positive vibe. During gardening season, I started my day by going over to my community garden plot before work. The physical labor, including the walk and hauling buckets of water, really put a positive spin on my day. During the winter, I joined an online Qi Gong class. A morning Hello, plus the exercise really helps. There’s a great article on how to build a home gym on a budget here. And check out the wellness archives here.

The LifeHack site offers some great advice in addition to the above.

Practice gratitude.

Count your blessings, not your problems. If you’ve got a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear, you’ve got more than 75% of the humans on this planet. Be grateful, especially when you’re cleaning the house, washing dishes, and doing laundry. Daisy has written about it and so has Colette.

Turn on some music!

Music is an emotional thing. It releases dopamine, which is part of the brain’s reward system. It can be meditative, relaxing music, or if you’re cleaning the house, some old-time rock & roll! Just as long as it’s positive.

Make time to be alone and recharge your batteries.

Get away from the fuss and bother of the outside world. Turn off the news. In fact, if memory serves, Selco also mentions this. Take in enough to know what’s going on, then turn it off. I find our current 24-hour news cycle both depressing and exhausting. Read a book or play a DVD. Those can often be found free at the local library.

Accept where you are in the present.

Ignoring reality won’t make it go away. If money is your problem, there are several articles on this site to give you ideas on how to proceed. Everything from having a yard sale to several ways to make a living from home can be found here. Your life might well feel overwhelming, and that’s understandable. But ignoring it won’t make it go away.

Avoiding toxic positivity falls into this vein. You don’t want to repress “negative” emotions or fail to acknowledge failures. Those things can teach you valuable lessons. For example, Colonel Harland Sanders worked a lifetime to make Kentucky Fried Chicken famous and learned many lessons the hard way. He sold his company at the age of 73 for $2 million.

Find a way to measure your progress, and then measure it.

This one really comes home for me, as I’ve done this and been there. Back in the 90s, I hit financial bottom. I was living in the cash economy in Seattle, washing windows, cleaning businesses, and hoping I’d make enough for rent and dojo fees that month.

So I found a way to keep a positive attitude: I measured my progress. Once per year, on New Year’s Day, I’d write down everything that I’d accomplished the year before. I grew my business by X clients, and I advanced in aikido rank to Y belt. Then I’d write down everything I wanted to accomplish for the coming year.

I wanted to grow my business by X clients, make the rank of Y belt in aikido, and do anything else I wanted to accomplish. I included a few bucket list items, but most importantly, I included action plan steps under each and every item. I referred to that list often throughout the year and checked off the steps as I accomplished them. I left space on that list for other stuff, writing it down and checking it off as appropriate. It worked. It took time, but it worked. Forbes offers a few insights into the matter.

Get connected.

Humans are social creatures, and hanging out on social media isn’t going to cut it. Volunteer if you’ve got time. Go for walks in your neighborhood. In fact, this practice could be combined with urban foraging. Read about that here. Take the kids and the dog, if you have them. These things are free and can even help put food on the table.

Grow yourself!

Read, learn, and acquire new skills. The mind, once opened, never goes back to its old size. One never knows when those new skills will come into play. These days I’m cultivating mushrooms using the lab skills that I learned back in the 1980s in college biology. Some people cook food in their kitchens. I cook food and both PDA and malt agar for growing fungi.

Keeping a positive mind is so incredibly important!

Our minds create much of our reality, so a positive mind will create a much better reality than a negative mind. Do you have more tips for creating and maintaining a positive attitude? Share them in the comments below!

About Amy Allen

Amy Allen is a professional bookworm and student of Life, the Universe, and Everything. She’s also a Master Gardener with a BS in biology, and has been growing food on her small urban lot since 2010.

How To Keep A Positive Mind During Hard Times

11 thoughts on “How To Keep A Positive Mind During Hard Times”

  1. This article was well written and I really enjoyed it, thankyou. With everything going on these days, it’s often too much. I limit my media exposure. I’ve found that volunteering helps me. I don’t have much money but I can do something to help those who have less than I do. Prayer and meditation help me the most.

  2. In the interest of fairness, I wonder if TOP is going to have an article on the benefits of living by the Bible and following Jesus?

    1. I don’t feel we’re being “unfair.”

      This was not a religious article. Aikido principles are part of a philosophy. Philosophy and religion are not the same thing. There are loads of Christian websites you can visit to find that type of information. I did not set up this site to provide witness.

      I made a conscious decision when publishing not to focus on religion because so many other places do it so well. If it isn’t done well it can be incredibly divisive and my goal is to bring people from many different backgrounds together.

      Thank you for the suggestion. 🙂

      1. I’ve taken a couple of days to think about your reply, and re-read it. I didn’t want to jump right back with an “oh, yeah?” type of response.

        Wordnik defines religion as:
        ” 1. The belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers, regarded as creating and governing the universe.
        2. A particular variety of such belief, especially when organized into a system of doctrine and practice.
        3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

        According to wikipedia: “Aikido is now practiced in around 140 countries. It was originally developed by Morihei Ueshiba, as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy and religious beliefs.”

        For unknown reasons (to me, at least), many Westerners who choke at “religion” (specifically Christianity and/or Judaism), wholly accept Eastern religion or its practices but won’t name it as such. Yoga is a prime example. Yoga is Hindu and uses positions of worship of Hindu gods. Aikido is another.

        It’s your website, and you get to make the rules. If you want to allow only Eastern religious references, that’s your call.

  3. I loved this article! Good reminders and practical tips. The one other thing that has helped me in the past is to realize that being positive doesn’t have to mean I think everything is great all the time. It just means that I think that I can get through the challenges I face, that things have a possibility of getting better. I mention this because sometimes people can feel like failures if they aren’t sunny all the time, because isn’t that what being positive is? You still have ups and downs, that’s normal and right, but you know there will be good times ahead even when everything is going wrong.

    PS: Thank you for avoiding religious content and sticking with topics that unite us. 🙂

    1. That’s what’s meant by avoiding toxic positivity: believing that we can get through things even if it’s not particularly sunny at the moment. It’s a tense time right now, and it’s been tense for a long time. But humans have been through many tense times. We can get through this one. Thanks for the positive feedback!

    2. She didn’t avoid religious content. “Back in the 90s, I studied Kokikai Aikido, and there are four basic principles underlying the entire art. The fourth is Positive Mind, which means, “always keep a positive mind”. This is because it’s lighter and easier than a negative mind, a rationale that I’ve largely found to be true.” What it sounds like is that she included religious content that didn’t offend you.

  4. I don’t particularly like plaques with cutesy phrases, but this one caught my eye.

    “Don’t pray to make your life easier but ask God to make you stronger.”


  5. Great article for the time we are in right now. I also enjoyed Redbranch’s description of positively. It really expounded on what Amy said.

    My Mom was super frugal when I was growing up and I have found myself going back to a lot of those ways when times get tough. It puts a smile on my face when I call her and talk about things I learned from her.

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