11 things you should do to keep yourself happy when you are surrounded by negative people


Contributed By: Selma Khan

We all want to be happy, but many of us don’t know how to be happy!! Sometimes, it becomes difficult to make ourselves happy when surrounded by highly irrational, mean and discouraging people. For some, happiness is feeling comfortable in doing everything they love to do, and for others happiness is to make a difference by helping others. One can also feel happy seeing a flower bloom or when they hear a child laugh. So, the meaning of happiness is different for different people. Following are a few points about how to be happy and how to stay happy among negative people.

1. Surround yourself with positive people – Calling up friends or relatives whom you know are positive, happy and overall easy to be with, can be a great way of feeling happier. If you don’t have those luxuries then try to seek out people near your area, such as positive events, seminars where you can meet like-minded people. Meet-up events are a great way to be in the environments which you want to be in. Make new friends there and build a network of positive people.

2. Get out of negative relationships and environments – This one is the hardest thing to do for most of the people. But, if you are surrounded by negative people who are deeply unhappy about their lives and life in general, it will affect you in a negative way. Like Jim Rohn says ‘we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with’. You will slowly but steadily feel unhappy about your life, the more you spend time with them. Or you might start getting unwanted negative thoughts. If you can’t get out of negative relationships, try to at least spend less time there, for a start.

3. Don’t get involved in negative conversations – Let’s say you have a job where your colleagues are predominantly negative. Now, most of us can’t just quit our jobs!! But, what we can do is to not get involved in people’s negative gossips. Some just love to offload their frustrations onto others, without realizing how much that can drain other person’s energy. So, stay away from them as much as possible.

4. Learn how to say NO – This is especially difficult if you are one of those who love to help people who seem to be in need. You need to learn to say no to people even if it feels really hard. Negative people have a way of dragging others into their pool of pity. It’s one thing to ask for advice from someone and then actually work for a solution to the problem, but it’s another thing to keep whining about the same issue, yet never taking responsibility and do something about it. Saying ‘NO’ can be a great way to live a happier life. Tell them no, ‘I have to work’ or ‘I am really busy at the moment’. Hopefully, they will get the hint. If not, you can also tell them ‘I understand that this is bothering you, but this is your life and therefore you are responsible. This might sound strict, but you may be doing them and yourself a big favor.

5. Practice being happy – Happiness is a practice. This might sound weird, but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Rich people talk about wealth, healthy people talk about health and happy people talk about happiness or everything and anything that make them happy. Try practicing happiness by scheduling things that make you feel happy. For example, spending time with the loved ones, long walks in nature, playing guitar, watching a movie, writing, etc. So, figure out what makes you feel happy.

6. Eliminate all excuses and limitations – Do you often find yourself saying something like this – ‘If only I got that job I would be so happy’ or ‘When I buy that house I will be happy’ or ‘I need to complete a lot of things before I can be happy’. If you find yourself doing this to yourself, you must stop immediately. This way of thinking will only keep you feel unhappy because, you are constantly discouraging yourself by saying why you cannot be happy right now!! So you should start looking for the things that make you happy at the present moment.

7. Show gratitude – How often do you feel thankful during the course of a day? If not many, it will be a good idea to start thinking about the things you are grateful for. Being grateful is a great way to start feeling happier about life. Gratitude allows us to focus on what we have instead of what we lack. And the best part is that it’s in our control to be grateful for what we have.

8. Accepting your negative feelings and thoughts – This might sound weird, but it’s something that always works. Whenever you feel frustrated, angry, sad or other kind of emotions that make you suffer, accept those feelings. Let them be there, allow yourself to feel it all for a moment and almost instantly you will feel better.

9. You can only give others that what you have – Meaning, people who criticize, harass, bully and discourage are sadly often doing the same for themselves. So their conversation with themselves is usually very negative and discouraging. In regard to this, a beautiful movie called ‘Peaceful Warrior’ can be recommended. People who are supposed to love and support us, if they don’t support or love themselves, how can we expect them to give us something they themselves don’t have?

10. Have compassion – Despite of it being very hard to show compassion towards people who are trying to bring you down, if you can do so, you are the winner. We might not respect their destructive and hurtful behavior, but we can try to understand that they all are doing the best they can out of what they know to be true. From that standpoint, we are all the same. ‘If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.’ Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness.

11. Outshine negativity – Recollect a time, when you have been in a bad mood and someone around you was so happy and positive, which made you feel better; so much so that even before you knew it, you were smiling. So, instead of letting negative people overwhelm you with their cynicism, fear and bad attitude, you can allow yourself to feel happy and shed your light on them as well. This will allow them to either join you or choose not to. Either way, you should never let your smile fade because of the guilt of being happy amidst unhappy people.


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