The value of positive thinking is becoming more well-known. But what is it exactly and how do you develop a positive mindset?
Let’s start with what positive thinking is not. The term is often rather flippantly bandied around as a sort of band aid for difficulties in life.
A positive mindset is more than simply looking on the bright side or captioning difficult life events with superficial comments like, “Well, tomorrow is another day.”
Positive thinking is not about ignoring negative or painful emotions or difficult situations, or about being happy all the time.
Today, I’ll share some healthy benefits of developing a positive mindset, how to shift your mindset from negative to positive and how to use gratitude and positive affirmations to steer yourself towards more optimistic thinking patterns.
What is a Positive Mindset and Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking is centred around optimism and developing a way of looking at life with an expectation that things will go well.
When things don’t go as planned or there is a disappointing resolution to an event or life is extremely challenging, positive thinking focuses on:
- things you can control (instead of obsessing about what is out of your control),
- lessons that can be learned and personal growth that can occur from difficulty,
- finding ways to improve a situation, and
- releasing what is not within your control.
Positive thinking has been scientifically proven to boost your immune system, reduce anxiety and promote success in all areas of your life. Positive thinking people have a longer life span, recover faster from injuries, have higher energy levels and have a lower risk of dying from heart disease, some cancers and infections. Sounds like a win-win situation, doesn’t it!
So how do you develop a positive mindset and get out of negative thinking patterns?
Common Types of Negative Self Talk
Moving from a negative framework to a more positive way of seeing is challenging in the beginning. But with some useful techniques and a little persistence, it’s entirely possible!
It’s helpful to first try to identify common negative thinking habits you may fall into. Do you recognize yourself in any of the following examples…?
Personalization: Blaming yourself unfairly; feeling like it’s your fault whenever bad things happen. (I drove over a nail and my tyre is flat. I should have seen that tiny nail in the road.)
Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst possible end result when something even slightly negative happens. (My favorite store is out of flour. Every store in the area is probably out of flour and I’ll never be able to make my dessert.)
Filtering: Sifting through information on a situation and focusing on only the negatives. (Getting an excellent score on an assignment, but obsessing about the few missed marks.)
All or Nothing: Similar to perfectionist thinking, this is an extreme way of analysing the results of events or behaviour where everything is labelled either good or bad, right or wrong. (I bought the wrong size light bulb. I never do anything right.)
For more interesting examples of negative self-talk, head on over here or here.
Once you’ve figured out where negativity sneaks in or has entrenched itself in your thinking, it’s time for a mindset shift. Here are some tips to help you along your journey.
How To Develop a Positive Mindset to Overcome Negativity
1. Develop Mindfulness with Meditation
Becoming aware of negative thoughts is a first step in overcoming them. It’s easy for them to slip in unawares when we’re in the habit, and this is where mindfulness plays an important role.
One of the many benefits of meditation is that it teaches you to observe your thoughts and emotions from an ‘outsider’s’ perspective. You’ll learn to gain control of your emotional reactions as you realise these thoughts and emotions come and go. You can choose to let them stop and stay or pass by.
Instead of ignoring or repressing negative thoughts, mindfulness and meditation help you develop skills to lessen the power and impact of negativity on your life as you increase your mental focus, self-discipline and teach your brain to think instead of just react.
2. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude does wonders in steering your thoughts away from negativity. It may feel trivial in the beginning and a little silly to be looking for things to feel grateful for.
Even if it is only your morning cup of coffee, or your warm bed, focus on the feeling of gratitude and nurture that little flame.
Like anything practiced, you’ll get better in time! I included gratitude as one of 8 healthy habits that will help you live more intentionally. Read that blog here.
3. Use Positive Affirmations
Using positive affirmations will give your mind a motivational boost and good positivity training (and a welcome reprieve from constantly repeating doom and gloom statements about yourself or the world).
Negative thinking can draw negativity into our lives in an almost self-fulfilling prophecy.
If I keep repeating, “I’m such a failure, nothing ever works out for me,” what are the chances I’ll even attempt to make things work?
Presuming that failure is inevitable, presuming that people dislike you, by refusing to take a calculated risk that could have a huge payback in terms of happiness or life satisfaction.
Try incorporating positive affirmations in your journaling practice if you have one. Choose a handful that resonate with you and write them down every morning. Or repeat them to yourself when you wake up. Start off your day telling yourself some truths you want to see manifested in your life. Repeat them throughout the day. If you’re consistent, you’re sure to notice positive changes in your mindset.
Here are 14 positive affirmations to help you undergo a positive mindset shift.
- I choose to be happy today.
- I have the power to direct my life.
- I choose to release negativity.
- I am enough.
- I welcome new challenges.
- I am worthy of being happy.
- I believe in myself.
- I attract positivity and happiness.
- I am comfortable being myself.
- I am constantly growing.
- I am resilient, calm and capable.
- I am ready for amazing experiences and opportunities
- I choose optimism and courage.
- I can solve problems and come up with solutions that work.
Practicing gratitude, making use of positive affirmations, developing mindful awareness of your thoughts and practicing mastery over your emotions with meditation are valuable skills you can leverage to shift your mindset.
By following these three steps, you’ll be well on your way to developing a more positive outlook on life.
Instead of negative thinking habits hindering you, your positive mindset will boost your health and be a powerful ally in creating a fulfilling life full of joy, peace and satisfaction.
You can be happy. Start today!
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