The power of positive thinking is one of our minds greatest abilities, but it’s one that requires practice and exercise.
Positivity leads to a greater sense of happiness, lower stress, and a better outlook on life, but it’s not always easy to see things positively.
Have you ever noticed how negative situations and events throughout the day tend to stay top of mind longer than positive ones?
Think about what happened today. What are the first three things that come to mind? If you’re 100% honest with yourself, how many of those were positive?
If you’re 3 for 3, congrats! You routinely practice positive thinking, even if you don’t realize it.
If your three things were all or mostly negative, you’re not alone. No one starts off looking for the negative in everything all day long, but the more we give our attention to negativity, the more control it has on our lives.
You oversleep and your day gets started off on the wrong foot. On your way to work, you’re rushing through your routine and spill coffee on your shirt, get a speeding ticket, or even get in hot water with your boss for being late. By now, you’re probably thinking something like “well, this is going to be an awful day.”
Right? I mean, who wouldn’t be thinking that way?
Well, by thinking your entire day is ruined, you’re setting yourself up to see the negative in the entire day. As the day progresses, each and everything that doesn’t go 100% your way, you’ll attribute to having an awful day.
I’ve been there! It’s hard to recognize when you’re in a negative frame of mind. And even if you do manage to realize you’re in a bad mood, it’s difficult to snap out of it. You can’t just tell yourself to “be happier,” can you?
How do we train ourselves to be more positive? How do we rid our lives of negativity?
I’m so glad you asked! If you search the internet high and low, you’ll find tons of strategies such as meditating or practicing self-affirmations, and those are great for some people, but they don’t work for me.
If you’re looking to master the power of positive thinking, start with these seven strategies.
- Limit Your Exposure to Negative People
- Examine Your Environment
- Look for One Positive in Every Situation
- Start a Gratitude Journal
- Talk to a Mentor
- Reflect on the Root of the Problem
- Get Some Exercise
1. Limit Your Exposure to Negative People
When I first notice that a person is drawn more towards negativity, I try to talk to them. I try to find out if I can help in some way. To bring most people around to the positive side, all it takes is for someone to express an interest or a genuine desire to cheer them up.
But then, some people deliberately choose to be negative, cynical, or unhappy. You’ve heard the saying that “misery loves company,” and it’s true. Truly negative people tend to want to drag others down with them. Don’t let them!
Now, I’m not saying abandon a friend in need or start cutting people out of your life, but you DO need to limit your exposure to negativity.
If you feel like you’ve been more negative lately, examine the people around you. Is there any one person or a group of people who are constantly complaining, commiserating, or being rude and unkind? Whether it’s friends, family members, or coworkers, attempt to limit your exposure to these people.
If you’re in a shared space with these people at work, make an effort to share your positivity, but never join in on the complaining. Excuse yourself politely, put in headphones, ask for a new office or desk assignment – make any attempt you can to avoid the negativity.
If it’s a friend or family member that you’d rather not lose, explain to them how their negativity affects your mood. Explain that you want to be supportive and that you’re okay with being a sounding board, but not for the same issue over and over. There’s a difference between a friend in need and aimless complaining.
Again, misery loves company. Try and try as you might in sharing your positivity with negative people; they have a better chance of bringing you down than you have at cheering them up.
It’s sad but true. Take care of yourself first.
2. Examine Your Environment
This tip is closely related to the first, but in addition to examining the people around you, it’s also important to take a look at the spaces you spend a lot of time in, such as your home or office space.
As humans, we need sunshine, fresh air, a sense of belonging and purpose, community and friendship, and so many other things. But we don’t all need or want the same things. Some of us like dimly lit, cozy, and quiet spaces. Others enjoy bright lights, windows, and the hustle and bustle of other people.
If you’re unsure of what you prefer, ask yourself if your environment gives you a sense of positivity and joy? If not, track down the problem(s) and work towards fixing them. Do you become annoyed at certain noises or behaviors? Does the lighting give you a headache?
Your overall mood, attitude, and sense of positivity will vastly improve once you’re more comfortable in your space.
3. Look for One Positive in Every Situation
As we all progress through our lives every day, we are guaranteed to run into situations that are less than ideal.
Remember that scenario I presented earlier? Whether you overslept, spilled hot coffee on your white shirt, or got a speeding ticket on the way to work, it helps to stop and try to think of something positive about the situation.
Seeing positivity in unlikely places is an acquired skill that takes practice and discipline. Do it enough, and it becomes a powerful habit.
“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate.”Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking
If you overslept, tell yourself that you must have needed the extra sleep from being super productive the day before. Take pride in how hard you must have worked to need that extra sleep.
Got a speeding ticket? Imagine hypothetical situations like this: “If I hadn’t got that ticket, I might have ended up in a terrible accident.”
No matter what you believe in, we’ve all seen situations where, had you been a moment sooner or later, something terrible might have happened. Instead of questioning the timing of life, try assuming that one lousy situation helped you to avoid a worse one. It seems silly, but it works.
Spilled coffee on your shirt? Well, that’s a bummer. I’ll leave you to see the positive side of that situation. You may need some practice, and although I wish I did, I don’t have an answer to everything.
4. Start a Gratitude Journal
This strategy is a bit more straightforward, but starting a gratitude journal is a great way to shine more light on the positive things in your life.
My friend Rebekah Corbitt wrote an article for Daily New Year’s called “The Good in Today.” In it, she shares how she makes a daily, intentional effort to catalog the positive things from her day.
Whether it’s getting a new pair of shoes or finding out she’s going to be an aunt, she writes down as much as she can remember.
Some days are harder than others, but forcing yourself to recall positive memories will help you get better at seeing them – they become more top-of-mind. As you get better at noticing the little things, you’ll soon start to realize just how much good happens to you every day.
If you would like a more structured or guided approach to gratitude journaling, try The Five Minute Journal. It will lead to “A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day.”
5. Talk to a Mentor
Sometimes, bad things happen, and we just need a good rant. I’ve been there, more than once!
Someone upsets you, or something doesn’t go your way, and you have to let someone know about it. Before you go ranting to the closest person with ears and a pulse, consider confiding in a trusted mentor instead.
Mentors are great at helping us see growth opportunities in lousy situations, and they’re even better at calling us on our misplaced frustrations or bad attitudes.
So, someone upset us or something didn’t go our way? A good mentor might help us to see that we’re responsible for those outcomes. Most of the time, how we respond to a situation is more the problem than the situation itself. We’re in 100% control of how we react.
We can respond positively, look for the upside, and shrug it off, or we can choose to get upset and let the situation ruin our day. A mentor can help us work through it.
And if you’re facing a truly miserable situation, a close friend and mentor would be a great person to confide in and share your feelings with. Sometimes it’s vital to talk through your emotions to properly process and deal with them.
6. Reflect on the Root of the Problem
Do you find yourself falling into the negativity tap more and more often? If so, take an in-depth look at your life and try to reflect on what could be causing the negativity.
Are you tired of your job? Are you in a bad relationship? Are you jealous of a friend?
Getting to the root of what’s bothering you will help you address the problem head-on. It may require some emotional introspection, but if you don’t solve the root problem, you’ll be doomed to a life of negativity until you do.
7. Get Some Exercise
My final and favorite strategy for helping myself keep a positive mindset is getting regular and challenging exercise. Exercise has been proven to release Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), all of which lead to a better mood, better focus, and a calmer demeanor.
When I’m feeling a bit negative or down in the dumps, I hit the gym as soon as I can. It really helps restore my positive attitude and helps to sharpen my focus. The next time you’re feeling negative, go for a run, walk your dog, or hit some weights. You may be sore after, but you’ll feel so much better.
So there you have it, 7 strategies to help to master the power of positivity.
If you have trouble staying positive, do you think these strategies will help? I’d love to know!
Did I leave out an awesome strategy that works for you? Drop a comment below and let me know.
Thanks for reading!