9 Tips to Help You Find (and Keep) a Positive Mindset in College

how to find and cultivate a positive attitude in collegeThere's no doubt that college life can be hard sometimes. You have tests to take, papers to write, projects to research, and plenty of tough situations to navigate. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and pessimistic. But did you know that your perspective can greatly help you get through challenges – and also equip you to better confront future obstacles? Choosing to remain optimistic is healthy for you in so many ways; it can energize and empower you, help you think more clearly and creatively, increase your resiliency, positively affect your health, and even give hope to those around you.

Not sure where to start? Here are our 9 favorite tips to help you cultivate and keep a positive mindset in college!

Bloom Where You’re Planted
Your circumstances might not be perfect; however, instead of focusing on the negative, see if you can find the good in each situation. Like a resilient plant, try to find the cracks in the concrete around you, drink in the rain, and soak up each ray of sunlight you can in order to give yourself the energy you need to flourish. This could mean joining clubs that interest you, volunteering for causes that are dear to you, and being in the moment with your favorite people. Use the resources that are available to you to succeed!

Never Let Your Grades Define You
You may work very hard on a project or paper yet still receive a lower grade than you'd like. It's easy to feel discouraged when this happens. But know this: your grades do not define you or your worth as a person. There will be times when you may fail or don't do as well as you should. It doesn’t mean that you're not smart or worthy. Instead, use grades as a moment of learning to help you reach your goals.

Remember That Setbacks are Temporary
When you're going through a hard time, it can feel like it will last forever. The beauty about life is that everything – good and bad – is temporary. Every day is a gift and an opportunity to begin anew. Do what you can to make the best out of a difficult time and cherish the good times when they happen.

Don't Become Discouraged
Should you do poorly on a test or have a misunderstanding with a friend, remember to not be hard on yourself. You're human, which means you will inevitably fail, have arguments, or simply mess up. Don't sweat the small stuff, Bearcats. Even the most diligent students will fail or encounter obstacles during their time in college. Try to brush it off, use it as a learning experience, and give it your best!

Hang out with Upbeat People
Turns out the company you keep matters after all. Studies have shown that sticking around negative people can not only be harmful to your health, but their attitudes can also rub off on you. If you find yourself surrounded by more negative people, work on limiting time with them and befriending optimistic people. Positive-minded friends can help you laugh, relieve stress and tension, motivate you, and grow in resiliency.

Choose Your Battles Wisely
When problems arise, it can be easy to get caught up in your emotions. Instead, step back, take a deep breath, and think about how you can tackle the issue at hand, especially in a positive and non-confrontational way. This is especially good when it comes to solving interpersonal conflicts. Can't change your circumstances? Instead of trying to control them, work on accepting them or letting them go.

Find Joy in the Small Things
It's okay to take breaks and treat yourself once in a while, especially when you're dealing with a setback. Find joy where you can: grab a favorite snack, visit with your friends and watch a few funny YouTube videos, jam out to your favorite song, or simply rest and relax. Taking breaks and slowing down to experience the world around you can help you maintain a positive outlook, even when you're stressed.

Avoid Toxic Positivity
Yes, there's such a thing as toxic positivity and it looks like this: masking or hiding your true feelings, dismissing your emotions, minimizing others' experiences with “feel good” quotes or statements (like “Everything happens for a reason” or “Positive vibes only!”), and saying, “It could be worse” instead of validating others' experiences. It's never good to suppress your emotions; be honest about your feelings and take the time to process them.

Be Patient
During your time in college, it's especially important to be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. Do your best not to compare yourself to your hallmates, classmates, and friends – your journey is your own. At the same time, try to give grace to others, too. You might not know what your peers are going through in their lives. Having patience can help in so many ways, especially when it comes to cultivating and keeping a positive mindset.

No matter what comes your way, Bearcats, remember that you have the tools you need to succeed. So, take a step back, breathe in deeply, and appreciate the little things in life. You've got this!