Positive thinking is a state of mind that naturally expects a positive outcome to events. Not all of us were born to be positive thinkers. The good news is that this mindset is a habit that can be developed and enhanced. The benefits are greater happiness and the increased likelihood that you will be able to achieve whatever goals you create for yourself. Positive thinking knows no limits, while negative thoughts only create limitations.
Is positive thinking a guarantee to success? No, it is not. Life has a way of throwing us unexpected curves. But a positive mindset will help you deal with the setbacks and move on. It prevents you from being a victim of circumstances.
Successful people rarely get to their destination because life looked upon them with specific favor. They created their success by believing that personal and professional success can happen if they remain in control of their thoughts and actions. Positive thinking is reactive, which negative thinking is passive?
A positive mindset involves more than simply telling yourself, “Think more positively!” It’s going deep down and understanding ourselves well enough to become confident of a successful outcome. We need to genuinely believe that we can make it happen. Equally as important, we’ll discuss how a positive mindset can create a state of preparedness.
Positive thinking provides us with the power to think ahead and anticipate the challenges that life keeps tossing at us. Positive thinking is anything but luck. When we change a negative mind of state, we open ourselves up to greater opportunities and possibilities. When life looks bleak, it’s remarkably easy to become negative.
This article will give you a few tips on how to change negativity into positivity until it becomes a natural lifestyle. In addition to greater success in life, positive thinking decreases stress, increases our health, helps us gain confidence, and helps us live longer due to our ability to handle stress and adversity.
We are frequently taught caution and negativity early in life by those who love us the most – our parents. Parental concern can convince us that it’s a dangerous, dog-eat-dog world out there, and we are at its mercy. Even well-meaning moms and dads can douse our dreams with what they believe is some cold reality.
“Just find a job with a nice pension, dear.” “Don’t ask that pretty girl out. She’ll turn you into mincemeat. Invite the secretary next door. She’s bound to be grateful.” “No one ever supported himself as a struggling artist. Get a job.” And these are helpful parents!
They can ensure we always expect the worse. And we wake up at the age of 40 and wonder why we are miserable. It’s never too late to change years of negative thinking. Here are a few of the best ways to ensure you see the sun instead of the smog (1).
Use Words that are Positive
We’re sure you’ve heard, “whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right.” Our choice of words matters. If you tell yourself you’re stupid, unattractive, or boring, that’s exactly what you will be. Life has a way of making our thoughts come true. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. When confronting a problem, use positive words, such as “I can,” or “I will.”
Think of words as building blocks. We use them to build (or make) conversations, ideas, and thoughts. These building blocks determine our relationship with others. Two people can be in the exact same situation and think about it very differently. “The people at this party are so boring.” “This party may be a good opportunity to build my social skills.” Same party – two attitudes.
Which attitude will be more successful? We invariably get more out of any situation when we make a choice and look for a positive. Thinking positively is always a choice.
Keep a Notebook
Think of the things in your life that have you feeling negative. Write them down. For example, “I haven’t had a good date in months.” Below it, rewrite that thought in a positive way. “If I join a gym or book club, I might meet some interesting people.”
Do this exercise regularly. Don’t deny the negative thought. State it, then turn it into a positive. This is an excellent habit to get into. Review the notebook periodically and check out your progress.
Listen to Others
People love to complain. As you listen, keep track how often people emphasize the negative. Don’t correct them (that would be rude), but this type of active listening will reveal just how widespread negative thinking can be. And it will help you monitor your own negative thoughts.
Change Your Thoughts
Negative thoughts and emotions can be triggered at any time. Bad moods happen to the best of us. But you don’t have to accept them like a victim. You have the choice and power of stopping a negative thought in mid-sentence and thinking about something else. If you find yourself moping about your ex, switch your thinking to how well you did at the office, instead.
Deliberately Evoke Positive Thoughts
This can be turned into a fun game. Even when your mood is neutral, randomly start inserting positive thoughts in your mind, such as, “Hey, I look terrific today,” “I feel totally confident,” “Bet the boss will love this report,” “The dinner I’m cooking for the inlaws will be terrific.” Don’t worry overly about the truth of these statements (so what if you burn dinner!).
It’s important to get your brain used to positive thoughts. It can’t tell the difference between a true statement and a statement you’ve made up and will be happy to believe you. Positive thoughts help you create your own reality. You become what you think.
Think Positively About Failure
We’ve already stated that positive thinking is not a guarantee. When things go wrong (and they will), ask yourself what happened and how you could have done things differently. Use any negative forces as a learning experience rather than an opportunity to mope and blame.
Every successful person has experienced failure. Most successful people have failed a number of times. That never held them back Positive thinkers know they only need to succeed once. Failure is the school of hard knocks. It always provided lessons when we need them the most. For just a minute, imagine life without failure.
You wouldn’t know how to feel compassion. You wouldn’t recognize or strive for greatness. You’d have nothing to strive for. Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? The truth is, the only way to move through life without failure is by never trying.
Can a baby learn to walk without falling? Not any more than you can become more positive without accepting failure as necessary. Yes, failure can hurt a great deal, but it’s like that Novocain shot that’ll get us through a root canal. We’re better for it in the end.
When we fail, we gain experience. It provides us with more understanding than we had before. We learn how to become more resilient. People who think positively take advantage of failure and use it as a valuable stepping stone to new and better goals. Getting fired from a job is the perfect opportunity to look for a better one.
We mentioned that positive thinking can help you be prepared for the time things go wrong. For example, let’s say you have a meeting and are about to drive to the office when your car breaks down. Do you panic because you will be late? Positive thinkers know that they are in control. So, as a positive thinker, you likely thought ahead and either have enough money handy for a cab or have learned how to do some auto repair. Positive thinkers don’t depend on luck.
Let it Go
It’s human nature to feel resentful at times. If you’ve been hurt, unfairly criticized, or rejected, the negativity can linger. It happens to all of us. Unless we let go of grudges, we can easily become overwhelmed by bitterness. Some people go through their entire lives being resentful towards a parent or sibling, even though that person no longer lives! It’s like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Think about it.
When we let resentment fester, we are literally poisoning ourselves. Your first step toward greater positivity is forgiveness. If you think it’s ridiculous to forgive the person who wronged, abused, and rejected you, consider the price you are paying. You offer forgiveness (even if only in your own mind) to improve your own feelings, not the other person’s.
Forgiveness does not imply that what someone else did is right. But it will loosen the hold that person has over you. Resentment ties you to another person and prevents you from being free. As long as you feel resentment, the other person has control over you. Honestly, is that such a good idea?
Forgiveness doesn’t absolve another person; it brings you peace of mind. Once you let go of the negative feeling, there will be room to replace them with positive ones. It allows you be a victor instead of a victim. If you continue to hold grudges, you are likely to infest any and all new relationships with the poison, which only creates more negativity. It’s a vicious circle.
Understand that the resentment or anger first needs to be acknowledged before it can be dealt with. Many times, people deny that they are jealous or angry, perhaps because they are too embarrassed to admit the truth. But you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.
Admit that you are jealous of your sister and angry with your ex. Then you can let it go and take back control of your life. It begins with taking responsibility for your thoughts and emotions. There is no need for the other person to become involved in any of these mental exercises. This is between you and yourself. The other person is history, so let go.
You Are the Company You Keep
It is said that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. That can be disconcerting when your boss is an idiot and your co-worker a backstabber. The people in your life have a tremendous impact on you. While you probably can’t do anything about the boss or co-worker (although consider getting another job), you should give a great deal of thought to the people with whom you associate. Yes, this includes family. Family members can frequently keep you down.
There are people who seem to naturally drain you of energy with their negativity. They can suck you dry with their neediness, anger, and chronic complaints and pump you up with their negative thinking. These people should definitely be avoided as much as possible. They add nothing to your life while taking so much. The good news is that you do get to choose whom you hang out with. Consciously seek out people who have a positive approach to life. They don’t have to be perfect, but they should be open to life’s possibilities. Ideally, they should be where you want to go.
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to avoid people you may consider “better” than you because you feel intimated. That can be people who are more productive at the office than you, people who stick to an exercise schedule, and people who watch their diet. These people can really make you feel inadequate.
They are also the exact people who can motivate you to work harder and live better to reach your goals. These are the very people you want to spend time with. They are the best type of teachers because they inspire. The lazy couch potatoes will do nothing to help you make positive changes. Do you really want them in your life?
It could be helpful to create a list of the people in your life. Do they add to or subtract from your existence? Consider that your party loving pal from college may be fun and can create a good time, but is he or she adding anything to your life besides hangovers?
Notice how certain people make you feel. They may act nice, but you invariably feel down in their company. Such people may be putting you down with backhanded compliments or more directly. Perhaps it’s the romantic partner who never comments on how attractive you are or how well you are able to prepare a meal, thereby always leaving you worried and trying harder to please.
If someone doesn’t boost you up, do you need them? Find people from whom you can learn, who make you feel good about yourself, and who encourage you to be the best you can be. One of the surest ways of finding people who will enhance your life is to be your most authentic self. Perhaps you’re in a group of people who like sports, certain types of music, etc., and you pretend to like the same things in order to remain friends. It’s a far better idea to find out what you genuinely like and pursue your real interests.
Facing Rejection Positively
No one likes to be rejected, but it happens to all of us. It would be a boring existence if we got handed everything we want. Rejection is rarely a problem; how we handle it can be. Someone once was overheard saying, “I don’t care if I’m right or wrong, I just want to win the argument.” Imagine never learning or growing, because that is the fate of the person quoted. Treat rejection like a failure, a wake-up call to action.
Very few rejections are life-changing. They are annoying, at most. If we let rejection overwhelm us, we are unable to move forward. And usually, there is something better ahead. Did your dream job fall through? Understand that there will always be a better job out there.
Even during bad economic times, you only need one job. Did your crush give you the cold shoulder? Hard as it is to believe, there are people out there that will prove more perfect for you – if you keep looking. Keep rejection in its proper perspective. Usually, it has absolutely nothing to do with you.
After getting rejected for a job, a woman learned that the reason for the rejection was that the hiring person considered her and her experience as a potential threat. View rejection for what it really is: someone else’s problem. Don’t make it yours.
If rejection happens too frequently in your life, use it as an opportunity to reflect. What kind of an impression do I make? How do people see me? What areas could use improvement? This is not accepting rejection; it is taking a good, honest look at the situation and taking responsibility for was happens in your life.
Perhaps you’ve been pursuing the brawny men at the gym when the nerdy writer is far more your style. This is a part of finding people that are best for you as mentioned previously.
Meditation and Positive Thinking
We know that a positive attitude can help you attract life’s abundance. Meditation is an extremely effective way to explore your inner thoughts and rid yourself of unwanted negativity. It has been used for thousands of years. A mental switch happens because meditation puts you in control of your thoughts and allows you to see your inner self more clearly.
Sometimes we don’t quite understand the negativity inside of us. There can be many reasons. If you were told while growing up that you would never amount to anything, negative thoughts aren’t too surprising. Sadly, they may feel natural.
Therapy can provide clarity in certain cases, but even therapists are recommending meditation more and more as a way to alleviate stress and increase positivity. When our brain is a jumble of negativity, meditation can calm the storm.
There are a number of meditation techniques;
Mantra Meditation: This type of meditation is based on the repetition of a sound or word to help you focus. You can also repeat a pertinent phrase, such as “I am calm.” By focusing on the sound, word, or phrase, you are quieting other, unwanted thoughts. This allows for positivity to enter your mind.
Mindfulness Meditation: Mindful meditation heightens awareness. By sitting in a comfortable place and concentrating only on your breathing, it lets you focus on the present. Irrelevant thoughts are pushed into the background. This quiets the mind and allows positivity to replace negativity.
Quieting the mind doesn’t always come naturally, so it may take time to feel its effects. But it’s worth the effort, as the benefits of meditation are reduced stress and a more positive outlook on life.
A good meditation session should last between twenty to thirty minutes but start slowly and work your way up. Wear comfortable clothes while meditating and make sure you will not be disturbed during your time. Inhale and exhale deeply. Don’t worry if your mind wanders.
Simply return your focus to your breathing. Counting while you breathe can be especially helpful, as in … inhale … one … exhale … inhale … two … exhale.
Developing a positive thinking mindset can be life-changing. To summarize the ideas in this article (2):
- Choose your words carefully at all times. Being positive is always a choice and can make the difference between action and inaction. Positive words will lead you in a positive direction.
- Everyone experiences failure. It’s how you deal with it that matters. Successful people use failure as a learning experience and move on to something better. Understand what went wrong and keep going. The only people who never fail are people who never try.
- Associate with positive rather than negative thinkers and learn from them. Free yourself from people who add nothing to your life and drag you down. You want to be around people who inspire you to do better.
- Resentment and bitterness fill you with poisonous negativity. Strive for forgiveness and let the negativity go.
- Rejection is rarely personal, so learn to move on. Like failure, rejection can be a learning experience.
- Use Positive Thinking apps.
- Understand the difference between “and” and “but.” It’s crucial.