How to be a POSITIVE THINKER
By the end of this post, you will have 5 tips to help keep your mood as crazy positive as possible. Having positivity in my life is something that works for me and I always keep myself positive by doing 5 things. If you would like a reminder with these tips on positivity, you can download the free worksheet right here.
To make all this information even more easily accessible, since it is such an important topic for mental health, I also did a video with this same information below.
There is something to the way we are always looking out for bad and negative things to come our way. The mind has a way to always be preparing us for danger. It has to do with our human nature to survive. But negative thoughts can bring you down really quick and anxiety can have a really bad effect physically on the body. According to the Mental Health America group, people who kept track of their gratitude once a week were more upbeat and had fewer physical complaints than others. Building a positive attitude takes time and practice, but a positive attitude is a healthy and stable attitude. so here are the 5 habits I’ve learned over the years.
1 // surround yourself with positivity and spread positivity to others
You have probably heard that it’s important to surround yourself with positive friends and remove the negative ones from your life who bring you down. But it’s also important to actively spread the positivity to others. Even if you aren’t feeling it that day, try your hardest to be nice to others and spread a positive vibe with those around you.
Some ways you can spread positivity are to lend a hand to someone else, be a good listener when someone needs it, give encouragement to others and just smile. All these things will help boost the moods of you and others in your life. Notice positivity in others and try to emulate this.
When you are expressing an emotion or re-telling something that happened during your day, make sure to avoid words like never, always, worst. Most of the time they are over-exaggerations and therefore inaccurate and they just make things sound worse than they possibly were. Have you heard the saying “attitude of gratitude”? Well, there is something to that.
Starting your day on a positive note can be helpful. This made me think of that saying about getting up on the wrong side of the bed. I looked it up and apparently the Romans had a superstition that you should always get up on the literal right side of the bed. The left side was the sinister side, related to the Devil. And sinister is the Latin word for ‘left.’ If you weren’t paying attention and got up on the left side of the bed instead of the right, you would have a very bad day. This superstition about the left side is related to that superstition about throwing salt over your left shoulder. Salt wards off the Devil, who likes to attack from the left, or the more sinister side. And it’s also the origin of having a “devil on your left shoulder and an angel on your right shoulder”.
What I mean about waking up on the right side of the bed is to just start your day with a positive attitude. Be prepared for any negative things way in the back of your mind, but be grateful from the moment you wake up that you are alive and able to go through the day with experiences unique to you and what you have going on in your life. So, in addition to surrounding yourself with positive people, acting positive from the start of the day and reminding yourself of the positive things in your life will help that feeling stay with you because you won’t be able to ignore it.
2 // Accept that you can’t control everything
Accept that there are so many things in your life and in the world that you cannot control. There’s only so much that we can actually control in our lives. It would be great if we could control every detail and everything that goes on around us – but unfortunately we can’t. The sooner we can accept that; the sooner we can brush problems off as the uncontrollable happenings that they are. There is an old saying that goes all the way back to the 16th century that says, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”
It’s very easy to lose perspective, especially if you’re stressed and the things in your life seem to be happening too fast to handle or maybe everything piles up all at once. Those emotions can build up and that small problem can feel like a huge one. If you anticipate obstacles, for example, plan on someone cutting you off while you’re driving, it won’t be such a harsh reality when someone actually does cut you off on the road. Just say, “Oh, I knew that would happen, oh well, at least I was prepared for it.” If you can’t control it then you shouldn’t worry yourself about it. That may sound easier said than done, but there are several techniques you can use once you accept that the things out of your control are actually out of your control, which goes into our third point.
3 // beware of all or nothing thinking
To not let that molehill become a huge terrifying mountain in your mind, there is a simple three step process to handle stressful situations, so they don’t get you into a negative mindset. Let’s go back to the driving example because everyone can relate to getting cut off by someone else on the road. Your first reaction might be to yell at the other person, or get really angry and try to cut them off. Here are the steps to take:
Say stop to yourself. In your mind, shout “STOP!” or “NOPE, we are not going down that path again!”
Focus on your breath. After you have disrupted the thoughts by shouting stop, just be still and focus on your breathing. Breathe with your belly and focus on just your in-breaths and out-breaths for a minute or two to calm your mind and body down.
Then you will want to refocus. Question your angry thoughts by talking to someone close to you and getting a more grounded perspective and thinking if this situation will seem as big of a deal in a week, a year or 5 years down the road.
4 // how much time you have wasted worrying?
I mean over your lifetime? Say you worry just for 30 minutes a week and you are 30 years old. That is approximately 800 hours of worrying or 48,000 minutes!
Seeing this number can help reality set in that it’s really not worth your time being negative, bringing yourself and others down. Spending time NOT being positive is such a waste of precious time. Next time you have a feeling sorry for yourself session, which we have all been there, try to catch yourself and think about how much time you wasted and how you could have been accomplishing something else…something that could have been more productive than being negative.
Our minds can be our worst enemies. When things go great, we are happier, we see the world in a better light, and everything seems that much better. On the other hand, when things seem to be going poorly, we are thrown into a gloomy mindset.
Try this: If something brings you down or you’re worrying about something, tell yourself you will worry about it at a specific later time. Even go as far as to put it into your calendar! It may seem huge at that moment, but 2 hours later, you may get that reminder and see how insignificant it really was. What this action does is stops you in your tracks from getting pulled down that deep hole of endless worrying and prevents time being wasted on negative thoughts.
5 // take criticism in a healthy way
One of the most common fears is the fear of criticism. It can hold people back from doing what they want in life and it can bring them down. But if you want to take action on what you want, then criticism is pretty much unavoidable. So, the key is learning to handle criticism with a positive outlook. Handling it right will lessen any anxiety you have of being criticized and possibly might even have you looking forward to criticism and seeing it as a way to grow and learn more about yourself. Here are 3 steps to handle criticism in a positive way:
Don’t reply right away. When you are angry or feel hurt, then is time to calm down a bit before you reply. Take a couple of deep breaths, leave the room and take a little time to process the message before you respond.
Really listen to the criticism. Try to remain open and level-headed and figure out how this message can help you. Ask yourself, “Is there something I can learn from this criticism? Is there something here that I may not want to hear but I can learn from?”
Remember that the criticism isn’t always about you. Sometimes criticism is really helpful to you. Sometimes it’s simply someone lashing out because they’re having bad day. To lessen the sting of the type of criticism you know you can’t learn or get anything out of, try to be understanding of the person giving the non-constructive criticism. I think to myself that this person might not be feeling good or has some really terrible things happening in their life right now and that is what is making them say such things. This goes back to accepting that we can’t understand or have control of everything and we can’t understand everything that everyone is going through at the moment, nor should we try. So, if someone is criticizing you in a non-constructive way, it is out of your control so time should not be spent worrying about what was said.
Now, even though it’s important to be positive and look for positivity in your life, there is also a time for reality. There’s a line between when you’re just ignoring the negativity enough to prevent bringing yourself down versus completely holding it in and creating a worse problem. If you are holding it in, it means you might be having trouble releasing and accepting the negative things that have happened in your life. So, you need an outlet to get all that negativity out and that could be exercising, journaling, or even art therapy or counseling.
I really hope these 5 tips gave you a new perspective on some ways to bring positivity into your life. And if you are already positive, hopefully it reinforced that you are on the right track with those positive vibes you have going on. Let me know in the comments if there is a tip you can share that helps you stay positive.