Positive thinking isn’t magic and it won’t make all of your problems disappear. What it will do is make problems seem more manageable and help you approach hardships in a more positive and productive way.
Positive thinking can be achieved through a few different techniques that have been proven effective, such as positive self-talk and positive imagery.
Here are some tips that to get you started that can help you train your brain how to think positively.
Focus on the good things
Challenging situations and obstacles are a part of life. When you’re faced with one, focus on the good things no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they seem. If you look for it, you can always find the proverbial silver lining in every cloud — even if it’s not immediately obvious. For example, if someone cancels plans, focus on how it frees up time for you to catch up on a TV show or other activity you enjoy.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and foster resilience even in very difficult times. Think of people, moments, or things that bring you some kind of comfort or happiness and try to express your gratitude at least once a day. This can be thanking a co-worker for helping with a project, a loved one for washing the dishes, or your dog for the unconditional love they give you.
Keep a gratitude journal
Studies Trusted Source have found that writing down the things you’re grateful for can improve your optimism and sense of well-being. You can do this by writing in a gratitude journal every day, or jotting down a list of things you’re grateful for on days you’re having a hard time.
Open yourself up to humor
Studies have found that laughter lowers stress, anxiety, and depression. It also improves coping skills, mood, and self-esteem.
Be open to humor in all situations, especially the difficult ones, and give yourself permission to laugh. It instantly lightens the mood and makes things seem a little less difficult. Even if you’re not feeling it; pretending or forcing yourself to laugh can improve your mood and lower stress.
Spend time with positive people
Negativity and positivity have been shown to be contagious. Consider the people with whom you’re spending time. Have you noticed how someone in a bad mood can bring down almost everyone in a room? A positive person has the opposite effect on others.
Being around positive people has been shown to improve self-esteem and increase your chances of reaching goals. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and help you see the bright side.
Practice positive self-talk
We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and be our own worst critic. Over time, this can cause you to form a negative opinion of yourself that can be hard to shake. To stop this, you’ll need to be mindful of the voice in your head and respond with positive messages, also known as positive self-talk.
Research shows that even a small shift in the way you talk to yourself can influence your ability to regulate your feelings, thoughts, and behavior under stress.
Here’s an example of positive self-talk: Instead of thinking “I really messed that up,” try “I’ll try it again a different way.”
Identify your areas of negativity
Take a good look at the different areas of your life and identify the ones in which you tend to be the most negative. Not sure? Ask a trusted friend or colleague. Chances are, they’ll be able to offer some insight. A co-worker might notice that you tend to be negative at work. Your spouse may notice that you get especially negative while driving. Tackle one area at a time.
Start every day on a positive note
Create a ritual in which you start off each day with something uplifting and positive. Here are a few ideas:
- Tell yourself that it’s going to be a great day or any other positive affirmation.
- Listen to a happy and positive song or playlist.
- Share some positivity by giving a compliment or doing something nice for someone.