Simple Strategies to Reduce Negativity and Be Happier

How would you like strategies to reduce negativity, improve your mental health, reduce anxiety, minimize stress and just be all around happier?

I think we can all agree that anxiety, negativity and overwhelm are at an all-time high. We notice it when we read the paper, scroll on social media, or even when we talk with our friends.

In fact, there are so many ways we unwittingly add stress to our lives, the list can seem never-ending. Tammy Kennington looked at 4 Keys to Combat Stress and Anxiety on the Body on this blog in her excellent article earlier this year. So be sure to reference it for some additional ideas.

What many of us only thought about once in a while, if at all, has now become so pervasive most of us personally know at least one person who is really struggling with their mental health.

And all this negativity is definitely affecting both our physical and mental well-being.

Simple Strategies to Reduce Negativity and Be Happier

Did you know that having a negative attitude and living in a state of helplessness actually creates a state of chronic stress? Chronic stress leads to:

  • Dis-regulation of our hormone system
  • Depletion of the magical brain chemicals we need for happiness,
  • Weakening of our immune system
  • Reduction of our resiliency, leading to even more stress!

On top of all that, chronic stress can actually decrease our lifespan—recent studies have shown that stress shortens our telomeres (structures at the end of our chromosomes) which causes us to age more rapidly. Yikes!

Combat Negativity with Positive Emotions

I have spent the last 10 years studying the impact positivity and mindset management have on us in our day-to-day lives.

One part of the research that surfaces over and over is the importance of cultivating positive emotions in our life. Scientist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has spent a career studying the Science of Happiness. She says that increasing our positive emotions will do 2 key things:

Broaden our perspective of the world (thus helping us notice and appreciate things on a broader scale—not just me, me, me).


Build our capacity to feel and experience more good, allowing us to be more resilient and able to flourish.

The more we can call upon our foundation of positive emotions, the more we will be able to cope with negativity and stress when they rear their ugly heads.

Here are a few ways to increase positive emotions even though negativity is all around us:

  • Schedule time to do things you love. Listen to your favorite music, cook a delicious meal, cross-stitch a sampler, or take a walk in the park. As you do activities that bring you joy, you will notice you start feeling better and better. I play Pickleball first thing in the morning 3 days a week, and that rush of dopamine from exercise combined with a sport I enjoy sets me up for the day.
  • Spend time with friends who fill your emotional tank. When I moved to my new community, I was so happy my neighbor invited me to join her book club. As an avid reader, I jumped at the opportunity. The club meets once a month for dinner and discussion. Notice I didn’t say book discussion! Well, that happens sometimes, but the biggest part of our “meetings” is connecting with each other, hearing about our ups and downs, encouraging each other, laughing with each other, and generally growing our friendships. Each time I drive home afterward, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of well-being. That’s what happens when you’re with people who fill your tank.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and not eating too much junk. I know this sounds kind of silly, but it’s so important that you give your physical body what it needs to keep your mental faculties working smoothly. If you think back to when your babies were teething and you were a zombie, you know what that feeling of sleep deprivation is like. Yet with our busy lives, it’s so easy to stay up an hour later, get up an hour earlier, race from activity to activity, and fill up with fast food, never realizing the toll it’s taking on our brain. We are more likely to make better choices and stay positive when our bodies are properly fed and rested.

These are just some of the ways to increase your positive emotions. The good news is that there are many ways you can overcome negativity, cope with stress, and create more positive emotions in your life.

How to Manage Your Mind

So you’re working on increasing your positive emotions, but that Negative Nelly in your office is driving you crazy! It seems no matter how good you’re feeling when you get to work, 5 minutes with her, and your day has gone to pot.

This is where the power of managing your mind comes into the goal of living a healthy lifestyle with less stress, less anxiety, and more happiness.

You see, you have much more power than you might know. In 2 Corinthians 10:5b, the apostle Paul said, “We take every thought captive to obey Christ.” What Paul is talking about here is how we need to monitor what’s going on in our minds.

So you want to take your thoughts captive, but how, and what then? Try these strategies to do it.

Notice the thought.

This is the first thing you will do. The latest studies have shown that we have about 6,000 thoughts a day. Most of these thoughts are on autopilot. It doesn’t take a scientist to imagine how many of those thoughts are typically negative vs. positive. The key here is to notice your thoughts. When Negative Nelly complains about a co-worker, notice your reaction. What’s your default?

Determine if the thought helps or hurts.

You get to think what you want to think. Stop and let that settle in a moment. You get to choose. Do you want to think nasty, complaining thoughts when Nelly starts her tirade? (This hurts you in the long run.) Or do you want to direct your thoughts in a more positive direction? (Which will help you immediately and in the long run.)

If you’re ready to stop the negative auto-response, you will want to dispute it. This technique comes from Dr. Fredrickson as well. (She wrote a whole book discussing ways to increase the positivity in your life.)

In a nutshell, disputing isn’t just wishful thinking, but instead, you check those negative thoughts against reality, and they will literally dissolve!

You notice the thought, then literally stop and analyze that thought against the true reality.

For example, you see Negative Nelly in the office kitchen, and she starts in on how nobody ever washes the coffee cups except her. So if you’re disputing this (all in your mind please), you will ask yourself if this is completely true. Most of the time that’s it’s not true at all. Lots of people wash coffee cups in your office.

By disputing, you take the emotion out of the equation. You won’t fall into a defensive response or an accusatory reaction against your fellow workers. Instead, you can calmly smile, get your coffee, nod, and head back to your office, safe in the knowledge that Nelly didn’t pull you into her negative vortex.

We know that negative thoughts feed negative emotions, which feed more negative thoughts, which feed…well, you get the picture!

The important thing is to notice and dispute immediately! You don’t want to get the downward spiral started.

Reframe if necessary.

Reframing is a wonderful skill you can use all the time. Remember when I said you get to think what you want? Well, reframing allows you to take any circumstance or any thought and think about it in a helpful, not harmful way.

For example, you notice that your 15-year-old son once again forgot to take out the trash. Your initial thought might be, “I can’t believe this selfish little brat. He is so entitled and just makes my life so difficult!” But that’s not a very helpful thought, is it?

Instead, you might have the exact same circumstance, but this time, you reframe your original thought into something like, “I’m so thankful for my son. I’m so glad he’s growing, and his brain is goofy right now because I know it’s all part of the maturing process. I’m so glad I get to remind him that I love him even when he goofs up, and he’ll know that when I gently remind him about taking out the trash and being a responsible member of this household.”

Do you see the difference? Even just reading those different sentences, do you notice you feel differently inside? With the first, I’ll bet you feel frustration and anxiety and anger bubbling around. And with the second, a sense of hope and generosity and love.

In light of the fact we want more of the good emotions, like love and generosity and happiness and hopefulness, that second thought is going to generate more of the emotions we want.

And when we feel good, we act good. When we have more positive emotions because we are managing our minds, we have less stress and less anxiety.

Did the circumstance change? No! But the way we thought about the circumstance changed and that is what makes all the difference.

You can use these ideas to reduce your stress, overcome negativity, and enjoy a healthier and more productive lifestyle. These are tools you can put in your toolbox and try over and over until they become second nature.

Don’t you dare worry if this feels strange and foreign. That’s normal any time you learn a new skill.

But with practice and perseverance, you can overcome negativity, be happier and enjoy life more.



 About the Author

Christy Largent is a professional speaker in the areas of positivity and mindset. She helps women find their Opportunity Mindset so that they can live a life of joy and fulfillment. 

Christy has a diverse background having worked both locally and internationally. She likes to say she has made a career of shopping and talking. Fourteen years as an interior designer and over twenty years as a professional speaker and trainer back this up! 

She has a B.S. in Political Science and Communications from Liberty University is a graduate of Word of Life Bible Institute, and has a Certificate in Positive Psychology Studies from UPenn/Coursera. 

Christy has a podcast, Encouraging Words for Working Moms, and was the co-host for 5 seasons of the PBS-TV show, The Forum. She is the author of the bestselling book, 31 Positive Communication Skills for Women. You can connect with Christy @christylargent on all socials and at 


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