Quick question – You’re driving down the highway when suddenly the driver in front of you slams on the brakes. In response to this surprise, you abruptly swerve off the road and narrowly miss the guard rail. What is your response in this situation; Do you immediately want to jump out of your vehicle and let the driver know how lousy his/her driving is? Or do you immediately feel thankful that you were able to miss the guardrail and no one was injured? If your response is more like the first option, this article is for you!
In this post, I will discuss how important it is to change our negative thoughts (I’m gonna give that lousy driver a piece of my mind!) into positive thoughts (Wow, I’m so glad I avoided that guardrail and no one got hurt!). I will also discuss some of the health benefits related to positive thinking and provide some tips that you can use to program your mind into defaulting to positive thoughts rather than negative thoughts over time!
We all have stress in our lives, it’s simply unavoidable. Fortunately, how we deal with this stress is something that we are capable of controlling, and it starts with how reactive we are to unpleasant situations. For instance, if you were to get out of the car and start screaming in the example above, what do you think that would do to your level of stress at the time? This reaction would be adding a lot of unnecessary stress in a situation that could have no stress whatsoever! We can’t change the past, so we definitely shouldn’t be stressing over it!
Researchers are continually studying the correlations between a person’s health and their outlook on life. According to various studies, positive thinking may be correlated with –
- An increased life span
- A lower rate of depression and suicide
- A greater resistance to illnesses, such as the common cold or flu
- Better emotional stability and well-being
- Healthier personal relationships
- Better coping skills during stressful situations or traumatic events
Because having a positive outlook helps individuals react better to stressful situations, it may help in lessening the damaging effects that stress has on the body. Positive individuals also tend to be more driven to exercise and have healthier diet habits.
Okay, so I’ve convinced you that a positive outlook is healthier for you, but how do you switch your thoughts? Well, it all starts with training your mind! The key is to consciously recognize when you’re having negative thoughts and quickly switch those thoughts to positive. Over time, your mind will become less likely to default to negative thoughts.
Some tips to get you started –
Each morning or evening, Write down 5-10 things that you’re thankful for that day
I know this sounds like a lot of effort, but it will help get your positive juices flowing and help your brain recognize the various positive aspects of your life. After a while, you may find that you wake up and automatically think of positive things in your life – without setting aside the time to write out the list!
Smile and laugh more!
Sometimes we get in a bad mood and feel like nothing will cheer us up, but this is exactly the time when we need to smile and laugh the most! To help yourself snap out of a funk, watch some funny Youtube videos or switch on your favorite comedy – Do something that you know will make you laugh. I don’t know about you, but I can’t watch Conan O’Brien’s Youtube channel without cracking up! 🙂
Recognize other people’s negative thought patterns and realize how unpleasant this negative energy is to be around
Is that really what I act like when something goes wrong? Am I that unpleasant to be around? YES. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer and nobody wants to be Debbie Downer either! So recognize how your negativity makes others around you feel. Let this motivate you to change your attitude and switch your thoughts from negative to positive.
Find motivation through positive affirmations
Just like I mentioned in my staying motivated post, I’m a big fan of positive affirmations. Self talk is where we get a great majority of our confidence and feelings of self worth from, so make sure you’re only telling yourself how awesome and great you are! Kick out any negative thoughts as soon as they start to creep into your train of thought!
Focus on Self Awareness and Your Purpose
Last but certainly not least, a huge factor in having a more positive outlook is based on self awareness. Become aware of the fact that you are a unique and special individual that has been given the chance to do something GREAT in the world. Ask yourself – What are you able to contribute to the world? What do you want to be known for and what do you want to accomplish? I strongly believe that finding your purpose is the key to reaching true happiness in life. If you want some help in this area, I’ve also written an article that discusses 5 essential elements to finding your purpose.
It’s so easy to see the negative in situations; Finding the good is often more difficult. Just remember, the right thing to do is usually the harder thing to do!
I sincerely hope this post has been helpful. I would love to hear your success stories and progress!
Good luck on your quest to living a more positive life!
Karren KJ, et al. Mind/Body Health. The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships. 4th ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Pearson Education Inc.; 2010:411.