Many people develop negative thinking patterns because we become frustrated by our challenges and frequent feelings of being overwhelmed (I can relate). This negative outlook then makes it even harder for us to manage those challenges and move forward.
Practicing positive thinking can allow you to focus on your strengths and accomplishments, which increases happiness and motivation. This, in turn, allows us to spend more time making progress, and less time feeling down and stuck. The following tips provide practical suggestions that you can use to help you shift into more positive thinking patterns:
1. Practice Regular Self Care
It’s much easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest.
2. Remind Yourself of the Things You Are Grateful For Every Day
Stresses and challenges don’t seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are right in your life. Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and appreciate the good things you have will make a huge daily difference in your mindset.
3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions
A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, but our fears are usually not based in reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is because of something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you as soon as you turn your back, speak up and ask them! Don’t waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there’s actually something to worry about.
4. Don’t Use Absolutes
Have you ever told a partner “You’re ALWAYS late!” or complained to a friend “You NEVER call me!”? Thinking and speaking in absolutes like ‘always’ and ‘never’ makes the situation seem worse than it actually is, and trains your brain to believe that certain people are incapable of delivering.
5. Detach Yourself From Negative Thoughts
Your thoughts can’t hold power over you if you don’t judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it, and don’t follow it.
6. Show Affection to Friends and Family
Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, and even pets, is an instant pick-me-up. One research study on this subject had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. She received higher tips from these customers than she did from the ones she didn’t touch!
7. Increase Your Social Activity
By increasing your social activity, you decrease loneliness. Surround yourself with healthy, happy people, and their positive energy will ‘rub off’ on you in a positive way!
8. Volunteer, or Help another Person
Everyone feels good after helping someone else. You can volunteer your time, your money, or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return.
9. Use ‘Pattern Interrupts’ to Help with Stress
If you find yourself stressing over something, a great way to stop it is to interrupt the pattern and force yourself to do something completely different. Stressing is like hyper-focusing on something negative. It’s never productive, because it’s not rational or solution-oriented, it’s just excessive worry. Try changing your physical environment – go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book, or turn on some music.