It is well documented that long-term stress is bad for mental health. It also wrecks havoc on the immune system and can cause a wide variety of illnesses. Does positive thinking do more than we give it credit for?
Negative thought processes can have a huge impact on your ability to handle stress. Cultivating the art of positive thinking has a huge range of well-studied benefits.
A recent study conducted by Stanford University discovered that a positive attitude can improve memory and increase problem-solving abilities. And years of research has found that positive thinking can boost the immune system, stave off anxiety and depression, and even lengthen your life!
With all these benefits, transforming a negative mindset into a positive one seems like a bit of a no-brainer.
Here’s how to be great at positive thinking:
Actively Identify Good Things
Often, if you find yourself tending towards a negative train of thought, you will have had years of unconscious practice at spotting the bad in any situation. It will take a little retraining, but with some effort, you can train your mind to seek out positive things.
During the course of your day, take moments to look around you and notice what is good. It can be as simple as basking in the warmth of a nice sunny day, appreciating the taste of a good coffee, or the pleasure of getting into a comfortable bed at night.
Do this enough and it will start to become automatic. You will shift your attitude to one of positivity.
Reframe & Rephrase Your Negative Thoughts
Negative thinking tends to be catastrophic. It is an ‘all or nothing’ approach that doesn’t allow much wiggle room for positivity. It can be a vicious cycle.
When you catch yourself thinking something negative, try to mentally rephrase it. For example, if you are frustrated about being stuck in terrible traffic, think about how nice it is that you have extra time to enjoy your favourite music in the car.
A powerful way to do this is to replace “I have to,” with “I get to.” This can help bring gratitude and a sense of excitement to anything you do. It will allow you to appreciate the things you have that many others do not. “I have to cook dinner,” becomes “I get to cook dinner.”
Maintain A Sense Of Humour
In many bad situations, if you take a minute to step back from your frustrations and emotions, you will be able to see the funny side. Remind yourself that this event will make a great story later. Try to laugh off kitchen disasters, failed presentations and flat tyres.
Keep your attitude light and smiling when you feel like crying. It can make all the difference, and prevent your thoughts from spiraling.
Focus On The Present
You will notice that negative thought patterns do not occur in the “now.” You are either hashing over things that have already happened or worrying about things that might happen. Bringing your mind fully into the present moment can halt those thoughts in their tracks.
What is happening right now, at this exact second? Chances are, nothing is as bad as your mind makes you believe.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
Other people have a huge impact on our moods. Research has shown that emotions are contagious. Spend time with friends and family that have a positive outlook. The ones that laugh and smile a lot and help you to see the best in yourself and any situation. If you create more space in your life and head for positivity, negativity will eventually fade away.
Positive thinking is possible to achieve, even if you feel like a force of negativity is weighing you down. It is simply about changing your mindset and your habits.