It is easy to feel like some people are just naturally positive or naturally negative, and that may be true in some cases. But, the truth is the happiest people are those who make an active choice every day to pick themselves up and enjoy the good things in life.
Research from the Mayo Clinic states that intentional positive thinking not only minimizes daily stress, but it also reduces the risk of heart disease and other physical ailments. A healthy, happy psyche actually helps people to live longer. Don’t wait until you feel better to start living healthier, mentally and physically — start living healthier to feel better now. Trust us on this one.
Changing your outlook on life is a major process, but it can be done gradually. You have to start small and practice new habits a little more each day that will slowly start to replace the old, harmful ones.
7 Tips for Positive Thinking
If you want to invite more positivity into your life, here are a few ways you can start to shift your thought processes.
#1) Listen to Positive Music
We all love music. It inspires us and keeps us company. Even sad music can be good for helping us enjoy our full range of emotions. But listening to the same thing constantly is guaranteed to have a lasting effect on us. Pay attention to the lyrics of songs you play on repeat. Are they encouraging? Is the tempo of the music energizing? Find a couple of uplifting songs, of any genre, and slip them into your playlist. Use Pandora or Spotify to find more songs like them. Let them be the soundtrack to your new outlook on life.
#2) Create a Sunshine Folder
This can be a physical folder in your desk or a file on your desktop. Fill it with things that make you smile. Photos of family, best friends, or favorite memories, beautiful artwork, or quotes that touch you and keep you going. Come back to the folder whenever you find yourself dragging. This is your own little world of beauty, it represents everything good about your life and who you want to be.
#3) Practice Positive Self-Talk
Research Professor Brené Brown reminds us to “talk to yourself like you would someone you love.” You would never say the negative things you think about yourself to a loved one, so why is it okay to say it to yourself? You would never keep someone else around who constantly put you down at every turn. You look to your friends for encouragement and reassurance. And you need to be a friend to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. When you struggle, think “I am learning.” When you see your reflection, think “I look great today.” When you don’t know something, think “I am going to look that up.” Repeat anything often enough and you will start to believe it. Choose to repeat positive things.
#4) Surround Yourself with Positive People
It isn’t easy being positive in a room full of nay-sayers and bullies. If the people around you are constantly pointing out flaws and problems with the world, they’re going to have the same effect on you. It’s hard enough to keep yourself uplifted without others dragging you down. Seek out friends who you notice are already positive and healthy. Encourage each other and practice good habits together.
#5) Share Your Positivity
A Chinese proverb states “if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody else.” Have you ever noticed how good it feels to make someone laugh? Or to receive a tightly squeezing hug when you give someone a gift they are grateful for? Bringing happiness into other people’s lives is one of the best ways to create happiness in your own. Tell people they are beautiful. Pay for a stranger’s coffee. Smile when you catch someone’s eye on the street. You never know how much they might need that kindness. And with any luck, they will pay it forward.
#6) Ask, “Does This Matter?”
It is easy to get wrapped up in the trivialities of each day. Getting cut off in traffic, having a frustrating argument, ruining your favorite shirt. Sometimes all of these things seem to happen in the same day, and you are certain it is the worst day of our lives. But how many of these things really matter in the long run? You will forget about the car and the argument eventually, and you will find a new favorite shirt. When you find yourself dwelling on the bad things that have happened, try to think of all the positive things that have happened that day too. They are there, don’t miss them because a couple of small mishaps have put you in a foul mood.
#7) Pause and Take a Breath
Positivity is a choice that is made every minute of every day, and with the right determination it becomes a natural reaction. One final trick to employ is the art of “pausing.” Before you react to any situation, pause and reflect on the facts. Don’t allow your emotions to run away from you. If it doesn’t seem like it will be beneficial to get angry, or shout, or storm away from the situation, take a deep breath and think about how you would like to react. Then do it.
Instill Positive Thinking, But Beware of Toxic Positivity
Positive thinking is powerful and can make a difference in your mindset and life — but it’s not a cure-all.
There may be things in your life, mind, or body that can’t be controlled by positive thinking. The advice to simply “think positive” isn’t always the best solution.
Positivity can become toxic when it is used as the solution for everything. In some cases, you will need more than a positive mindset. Major life changes, loss, traumatic experiences, and severe depression are just a few things that probably won’t be cured with a “good vibes only” mindset.
If you need more help than a positive mindset, get it.
Reach out to a friend. Call a hotline. Or, schedule time with a professional who can help. Therapy and counseling can help you work through challenges and difficulties and build a foundation that will allow your positive thinking to shine through. (You can even get support from the comfort of your own home with virtual therapy options.)
You don’t have to be trapped by bad thoughts. If you need support, ask for help.
For more tips on how to invite more positivity in your world, download our free ebook that includes 75 tips for living a happier, healthier life.