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"Our environment has a tremendous impact on whether we're positive or negative," says Cherie Carter-Scott, Ph.D., a personal-growth specialist and author of Negaholics: How to Overcome Negativity and Turn Your Life Around. "Negativity -- the attitude that you can't get what you want, that life is tough, that you're not good enough or smart enough -- is a virus. If you're around it continually, especially as a child, it will contaminate your perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors as an adult."

But you can unlearn negativity. Here's how to turn negative attitudes and behaviors into positive ones and begin leading a happier life.

Awareness is key. First recognize that you have a tendency to be negative, although perhaps only in certain situations. If you don't, your negative feelings will gain power and overtake you.

Adopt a "can do" attitude. Once you acknowledge your negativity, realize you always have alternatives and then choose to change. Positive people recognize that they have options. What really sets positive people apart is how they deal with changes they don't initiate.

Develop an action plan. Be your own change agent; ask yourself how you want to change your life. Then develop a strategy to move from intention to reality.

Despite your best intentions, your negative inner voice may speak from time to time. To keep it at bay, "agree with it," Carter-Scott says.

For example: Concede that yes, you're not very polished at giving client presentations. "This acknowledgment will free you to focus on two things: what you're feeling and what you're going to do about it," she says.

Another powerful technique is to keep a paper and pen by your bed. "Before going to sleep each night, write down a minimum of ten good things you did that day, no matter how trivial," she says. "And make sure you start each sentence with I."

By dwelling on each day's successes, you'll program yourself to be motivated and positive.

So often, you can change your direction in life by merely changing your attitude. There's no reason to ever stay the way you are if you want to be somebody or do something better.



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