Have you read “The Power of a Positive Well-Being,” and now you’re ready to turn a new leaf filled with positive thoughts and affirmations that propel you to great personal success?
That’s great news!
…But how does one begin to think positively? Especially in the face of daily stress and the monotony of work and schedules, positivity can be hard to maintain.
Luckily, there are methods and guidelines to follow and get you started on your personal journey to happiness.
It may also help to define Positive Thinking, and pinpoint why it’s important for your physical and mental health. For many, the “why” is a powerful catalyst to action.
The Definition of Positive Thinking
Positive Thinking can be defined as:
- Visualizing positive imagery
- Positive self-talk
- General optimism
So what do these mean? And how are they different?
When you visualize positive images or outcomes, you will be forced to stop envisioning worst-case scenarios and possible confrontations.
Instead of picturing arguments that may result from a choice you make, you allow yourself to only consider best-case scenarios.
For example, instead of picturing an uphill battle with co-workers over a project you see differently on, visualize a collaborative and calm discussion where you all meet in the middle, or where you clearly explain yourself, thus earning their support.
Positive self-talk or positive affirmations refer to the manner in which you speak to yourself internally. That means no more, “Wow fat ass, I can’t believe you just ate that entire bag of chips! Gross.”
Treat yourself with kindness.
Try an approach more in the vein of, “Ok, this has been a stressful week. Chips probably weren’t the best choice. So how can I handle stress better next time? A cup of tea, some yoga, or a walk outside will all be things I can try instead.”
General optimism is a daily approach to life: waking up expecting it to be a great day, finding beauty in small things, learning from mistakes and taking the opportunity to grow.
This can take a lot of practice (and patience) as you shift to a more positive mindset, but showing gratitude for everything in your life (big and small) will change the way you live.
Why It’s Important to Learn How to Think Positive
There are 3 main reasons to think positively on a daily basis:
- Increase confidence and self-esteem
- Elevate your mood
- Decrease chances of stress-related illnesses
These are all pretty self-explanatory; the way you feel daily, the way you feel emotionally long-term, and your physical health should all be priorities in your life!
But there is concrete evidence that a negative outlook and subsequent stress can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. More commonly among young adults, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and increased reliance on drugs & alcohol can also result.
Rather than perpetuate the cycle of self-medication through unhealthy means, let’s instead tackle the real problems at hand – which are often a dissatisfaction with yourself, your current situation, or your future situation.
Of course there are other, outside sources of unhappiness. But many of these are more easily handled when your overall approach to life is a positive one.
The Top Stressors
Among young adults, the most commonly reported stressors are:
- The Future
More generally, across all ages:
- Death of spouse/Divorce/Separation
- Death of close family member, personal injury/loss
- Changes in work situation
- Changes in financial situation
- Pregnancy, family difficulties
Have you or do you experience stress caused by any (or all) of these topics? You may even be looking at the first list, asking yourself if there’s more to life than those 4 things!
Let’s talk briefly about that first list.
As a society, we have been conditioned to place significant value on what we do for work, and subsequently, what we make as monetary compensation for that work. Very rarely do people ask if you enjoy your work.
Value on appearance is also at a premium in America. Plastic surgery centers and cosmetics companies are cleaning up!
Of course taking care of your personal hygiene and feeling good about your level of health and fitness are important to happiness. But placing more value on a compliment of your appearance, instead of a compliment on your intelligence or creativity, may be setting yourself up for disappointment as your looks fade over time.
“The Future” can be a scary thought. Will you have saved enough for retirement? Will you look back and regret chances you did not take? How will your health be holding up?
There are no guarantees in life, but the best you can do is prepare where you can, and maintain a positive outlook that your best days are still ahead of you.
As for the second list, life can throw curve-balls your way at any time.
People you care about will pass away, you may be laid off or face failures, and even the best laid plans go awry.
By living life as an optimistic person, you will find yourself better prepared to celebrate lost lives for what they were, learn from your mistakes, create opportunities out of failures, and see the beauty in what can grow from a terrible time.
7 Methods to Foster Positivity
Hopefully you are now convinced that today is the day to start your new life as the happiest, most optimistic person you know!
There’s a big world out there, but you are ready and equipped to handle anything coming your way… so how do you get started?
1. Positive Affirmations
At first, you may feel silly as you verbalize your positive affirmations. They may be as simple as, “I am a valuable human being,” or “I deserve happiness.”
As you speak things into existence, and you allow yourself to believe them – they become true.
Work your way up to “I will earn the promotion to Marketing Manager this year,” or “I will achieve my ‘summer body’ by dedicating myself physically.”
Keep in mind that speaking the words is the first step. The second step is making a viable plan, and the third step is to follow that plan wholeheartedly.
Speak your affirmations daily, and record them so that you can follow up on your progress. Close your eyes and visualize them coming true, and how you will feel at that time.
2. Focus on Good Things of any Size
Everyone has bad days.
Getting a flat tire, stuck in the rain without an umbrella, and missing the bus – those are all small inconveniences that can derail an entire day. Losing your job, suffering from a break-up, or fights with people that are important to you – can affect your entire week or month! Deaths, failed businesses, and infertility can dictate how you feel about your entire life.
This is where the seemingly small step of seeing beauty and positivity in small things and actions, is one of the most valuable life lessons that you can learn.
Embrace the smell of your coffee in the morning, the flowers blooming in the spring, fresh air on a crisp day. Snuggle in your favorite blanket, turn up your favorite song, smile at finding the perfect pen. Let a compliment that someone gives you, brighten your whole day.
Bad and even terrible things will happen to and around you. You, and only you, control your reactions to them.
3. Find Humor in Bad Situations
Oftentimes, the funniest stories grow out of unbelievably awkward or horrific situations – but only if you allow yourself to laugh at them.
And yes, it’s ok to poke fun at yourself! No one is immune to missteps, yourself included.
It may not be recommended to burst out laughing in the middle of a funeral. But smiling when discussing your favorite memories of someone will always warm hearts.
Be mindful that not everyone is on their personal mission to a positive outlook, and they may not be ready to laugh at themselves.
And remember that if you are laughing at yourself, you are silently assenting to others laughing at you, too.
4. Turn Failures into Lessons
Have you ever made a mistake, and then laid awake at night, thinking about it? I’m willing to bet a pretty penny that you’ve lost some valuable shuteye over a small hiccup.
In the case of really big mistakes, like failed businesses or relationships, they may have kept you up countless nights as you relived the trauma.
You cannot go back in time to stop yourself, and chances are that in the same situation, you might make the same decision.
Make every effort to learn from your failures. Delve into why you made the decisions that you did, and start correcting detrimental behaviors.
Seek help when needed. Build yourself into a better, stronger, smarter version of you.
5. Turn Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk
As we touched on earlier, stop beating yourself up!
You have more conversations with yourself, than anyone else in your life. Make those conversations uplifting and inspirational.
Instead of putting yourself down, coach yourself to better decisions. Don’t dwell on missteps and don’t skip congratulating yourself on successes!
Get in the habit of complimenting others – then lavish the same types of compliments on yourself.
Does your friend’s independence impress you? Tell them. Does your own reliability and punctuality make you a great worker? Tell yourself.
Compliments on a nice bag or shoes are a good start – but what really brings out the best in people is when you recognize the goodness in their soul.
Looks will fade, but intelligence, wit, kindness, humor – those can accompany you for the rest of your life.
6. Stay in the Present
One of the saddest states in life, is to be pining for another time. It’s hard to picture anything more depressing than wishing for something that will never come!
The past cannot be re-lived, and the future is an abstract that ultimately never comes.
The only period of time that is real is the present! It’s happening right now, today.
Are you happy? It’s time to let go of the past and stop praying for the future; enjoy today for what it is.
- Do you miss a relationship that ended?
- A friend that slipped away?
- A job you used to hold?
Don’t dwell on something you cannot get back.
Maintain the attitude that your best days are now and ahead of you! Stop spending time looking backwards and focus on each day as it comes.
As for the future, why are you waiting for happiness?
Some stresses may abate over time, as you pay off your mortgage or retirement approaches, but there are no guarantees that life won’t throw new challenges your way.
As you age, it is more likely that people will leave your life, your health may suffer, and you may struggle with things that used to come easily to you.
Truly, today is the best time to achieve happiness.
Set aside a few minutes of “me time.”
Wear that favorite dress. Call your best friend. Open your window if it’s a nice day. Close your eyes and appreciate this moment.
7. Surround Yourself with Positive People
This one is so important – and yet, sometimes we don’t get to choose who is in our lives. Certainly your significant other and your friends are chosen by you, but what about family and co-workers?
You may find yourself one cube over from a drama queen, or constantly discouraged by family that doesn’t have your best interests at heart. These relationships can bring and hold you down.
You cannot expect to achieve your greatest potential if the voices surrounding you do not support personal growth.
It’s ok to separate yourself from people that hold you back from the best version of you.
But most importantly, when you get to choose – pick people that elevate you! Your circle should raise you up.
Don’t fall into the trap of competing with the people in your life. Surrounding yourself by positive, successful people means you need to hold up your end of the bargain – encourage and support them as well!
Don’t Give Up
Some days will be harder than others; that’s life!
Don’t abandon your positive outlook because of minor setbacks. Pursue “enduring accomplishments” so that your life doesn’t revolve around chasing the next goal. Set a goal, make a plan, and follow it. Then celebrate each milestone reached.
Remove toxic people from your life. Build your tribe with people that push you forward and bring out the best in you. Don’t live in the past, and don’t live for the future.
Be what you can today – happy!
Have you ever met someone that radiates positivity, showering those around them with the belief that anything is possible? Be that person. Approach everyday thinking it can be the best day of your life.
After all, why shouldn’t it be?
What’s the hardest part about breaking free of a bad mood for you? Let us know in the comments!