When it comes to your health and well-being, the thoughts you think are just as powerful as the food you eat and the exercise you get. Your mind is a powerful force with a profound influence on the way you experience life. It was once thought that eating a healthy diet and getting appropriate exercise was enough to ward off illness and maintain one’s health; however, research has consistently proven that your positive thoughts play a huge role in your well-being. We’ve all been given the advice to ‘think positive’ and ‘look on the bright side’, and for good reason; when practiced regularly, we become more resilient to stress and the negative thought patterns that can develop.
Negative thoughts are emotionally and physically draining, and they often lead to judging others or ourselves. Negative thoughts close us off to the people and possibilities around us and limit our experiences . They can also be self-perpetuating; once a negative thought patterns begin, it takes some work to reverse those patterns. Positive thoughts, on the other hand, can leave you much more open. From that place it’s easy to embrace all of the potential joy and happiness your experiences have to offer. And when positive thinking is part of your daily living and becomes a habit, you begin to build a skill set of of abilities and emotional resources that you can use later in life. For example, you may develop the ability to communicate more effectively, to experience and explore the world around you differently, to empathize with others, or to express yourself more effectively. These skills will broaden your sense of possibilities and options in any situation allowing you to experience the world in a more positive way, which will help you in having more positive thoughts.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to make the shift to positive thinking you’ll be proud of.
1) There are lessons everywhere.
When you are in the middle of a negative experience, it is easy to look at the damaging way it’s impacting your life. It is easy to dwell on the many ways you are being inconvenience or even hurt by the circumstances. It’s human nature to look at things that way‒at least, initially. Re-frame your thoughts around the situation by looking at the lessons and opportunities the situation has to offer. Every situation has the preverbal sliver lining; sometimes we just have look for it. While in the throes of the situation ask yourself “what am I supposed to learn from this situation? and “how can I grow personally as a result of this?” Some of the biggest lessons come from the most difficult situations; and although we may not see them until much later on, navigating the situation will be easier when you approach it as an opportunity too learn.
2) Let go of the need for perfection.
When we set the standards for ourself or others in our lives at a very high level, it is easy to miss the mark. Judgement is the natural outcome of failing to achieve the standard you’ve set, and judgement is almost always negative. By letting go of the need for perfection in yourself and others, you allow yourself further opportunity for joy and satisfaction, as well as thoughts that bring about positive feelings toward yourself, your environment and the people in it.
3) Be present.
In our multi-sensory, information-driven world, it is very easy to be distracted. In reality, the brain is designed to attend to (or do) one thing at a time, to do that one thing efficiently and then move on to the next task. When you can train your brain and nervous system to shut out all of the distractions and focus on the task at hand, you begin to experience life very differently. Being present with whatever situation you find yourself in is truly a gift to not only yourself, but anyone else involved in that moment with you. If you find this difficult to do initially, remind yourself of what you are there to do and gently pull yourself back into the moment. Over time, this mode of being will become very natural to you, and as your nervous system relaxes, you will make more room for a deeper presence in your life.
4) Be grateful.
When people think about the many blessings in their lives, their thoughts automatically change to positive ones. End each day by expressing your gratitude for the things, people, circumstances, or situations, from your day that you were grateful about. They don’t have to be grand; often the simplest things have the greatest meaning. Recently I was grateful that a young man held a door open for me as I struggled to carry grocery bags. His thoughtful action put a smile on my face that lasted well into the day and left me with a feeling of having to pay his generosity forward to someone else in need.
5) Focus on what you want more of.
What you focus on grows. By focusing on the positive things in your life, you will get more positive things in your life. When you focus on negative things, well, more negative things are likely to arise. Ask yourself what you would like more of. Create opportunities to have more of those things and the things you want less of will naturally, and over time, fall by the wayside.
Positive thinking becomes a way of being when practiced daily. It also becomes a way to open your heart and mind to the amazing possibilities of life that will build your happiness, resilience and joy.