Think positive: 3 quick ways to shift your mindset

How do you stay positive when life is at its worst? We all have moments that test our mindset.

Maybe it’s been a long day with your demanding boss. You brave awful traffic, only to find the house a mess and the fridge empty — official meltdown territory. Or the challenge you’re facing could be bigger: a scary medical diagnosis or the end of a serious relationship. Your outlook when you face those hard times can make a big difference in how you step up!


For me, the biggest test came in September 2012, when my 16-year-old son, Grant, was the victim of a horrific hit-and-run. His injuries were so severe that doctors advised us to let him go. We chose to fight for Grant’s life instead, beginning months at his bedside in the pediatric ICU, multiple surgeries, and recovery from a major traumatic brain injury.

Although my family was facing the hardest time of our lives, it was crucial that I stay positive and hopeful. I believe you get what you expect, and I knew that Grant’s future — and my own — depended on my ability to ignore the what-ifs. My goal was to get him to 110 percent, and that meant focusing on the possibilities, not the odds.


During Grant’s recovery, I used a simple routine that I still follow today to help me stay positive. I’ve seen this same quick strategy work with my weight loss clients and business coaching practice.

The routine involves three steps that you can do right now:

1. Show gratitude.
I start every morning by journaling what I’m grateful for, and it sets the tone for my whole day. You can begin by listing just a few things: the sunrise, a hot cup of coffee, or kisses from your pup. No matter how hard life gets, there’s always something to be thankful for, and research shows that people who show gratitude feel happier and live longer.

2. Compliment others.
The fastest way to forget your own problems is to be kind to someone else. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, send a text to your best friend telling her she’s a great listener. Leave a note for your neighbors about their gorgeous yard. Or track down the teacher who inspired you to choose your career and tell him so. Studies suggest lifting others up lifts you up too.


3. Count your wins.
Every night, I write down my wins for the day. When Grant was in a coma, that meant something as small as his eyelashes fluttering. But acknowledging those little miracles is what kept me motivated and strong during his long recovery. Bonus: Falling asleep is a lot easier when you’re counting your blessings instead of stressing over tomorrow’s to-do list.

Your mindset is everything! Surgeons told us Grant would never wake up, speak or walk again. Today, I’m blessed to say that my son is a healthy, active young man. Our journey together taught me that life doesn’t get easier — you get stronger. And staying positive is key to the kind of courage and resilience that will see you through even the toughest challenges.


Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin teaches clients how to lose weight and master their mindset so they can lead bigger, better lives. She's authored four NY Times bestsellers, including The Virgin Diet and Sugar Impact Diet, and her newest book, Miracle Mindset, explores the powerful lessons in strength and positivity she learned after her son Grant was the victim of a brutal hit-and-run accident. Find JJ's podcast, articles, recipes, helpful online programs and more at