The “power of positive thinking.” It’s a popular concept and gets tossed around quite a bit. But what does it actually mean? And how powerful can positive thinking be? In a nutshell, positive thinking is about making the best out of situations that are not ideal, seeing the good in other people, and most importantly, viewing oneself and one’s abilities in a positive light. And since what we focus on, expands, if we focus on the positive, we will find more positivity. If we focus on the negative, we will find more negativity. As you can see, positive thinking can have an enormous impact on one’s life.
Research has repeatedly shown the many benefits of positive thinking. Findings suggest positive thinkers are healthier, less stressed, and have greater overall well-being. There are also connections between positive thinking and a wide range of additional health benefits including:
- Greater psychological well-being
- Lower rates of depression
- Improved physical health
- Increased resilience
- Stronger immunity
While positive thinking may come naturally to some, it requires conscious effort for others. Fortunately, just as you would exercise your body daily to be more fit, or practice a sport to get better at it, incorporating positive thinking exercises into your daily routine allows you to retrain your brain to think positively by default, without conscious effort. Just imagine the impact that positive, affirming thoughts could have on your entire life!
Here are 5 Positive-Thinking Exercises to Help Boost Your Brain’s Positivity:
1. Gratitude Journal
One of the easiest ways to invite more positivity into your life is to notice all that you have to be grateful for. As your day goes on, take notice of positive things that happen and be grateful. It could be something as simple as the warmth of the sun or hearing your favorite song on the radio. At the end of each day, write at least 10 things you are grateful for that happened or went well during your day. If you follow this practice daily, soon you will be in the habit of looking for the good, positive things in life rather than the negative. When you feel down, read through your journal, and fill your mind with all the positive things you have written.
2. Cultivate a Positive Environment
The people you spend your time with and the information you get from TV, internet, and social media can have a significant effect on your outlook. If you are surrounded by people who are negative and down on life, and you hear and read negative news stories, you will most likely absorb this negative mental state. Go on a Media Diet! Spring clean your friends and social media connections. Consider how you can separate yourself from negative people and negative news and replace it all with happy, optimistic people and positive, feel-good stories.
Just as our thoughts can affect our mental state, so can our actions. Smiling—even when you feel a little down in the dumps—is a quick way to send your brain a positive message and get those feel-good brain chemicals flowing. Smile when you see someone else. Smile at your pet or your plants. Smile when someone holds the door open for you (and be grateful). Smile for absolutely no reason other than to look happier.
4. Mirror Technique
When you pass a mirror, stop and give yourself a compliment. If you are having a hard day, tell yourself that everything will be alright. The mirror technique helps tap into your subconscious to remove uncertainty. For more ideas on positive affirmations, check out this article »
5. Reframe Negative Thoughts
The most challenging—yet most effective—exercise to help eliminate negative thoughts altogether is to notice and stop them in their tracks! If you notice and allow negative thoughts to fester, you will perpetuate the vicious cycle and give negativity more momentum. The next time a negative thought creeps in your head, notice it and work to reframe the thought in a more positive way. Ask yourself, what is the silver lining? To help you find the silver lining, complete the phrase… “oh well, at least….” For example… you bought a Chai latte and dropped it in the parking lot. “Oh well, at least I got to talk to my friendly neighbor while I was in line.” This is a simplistic example but hopefully you get the idea.
A brief disclaimer regarding these tips… these tips all go by the wayside if the negativity and unhappiness surrounding you is due to an abusive environment. Please call 9-1-1 and seek professional assistance if you or a family member or friend are in danger, involved in domestic abuse, or any similar circumstance.
Contact Creative Counseling Center
Whatever it takes to practice positive thinking, just remember that it is real and can transform your life. If you find yourself struggling to switch your thoughts from negative to positive, or if you would like more tips to retrain your brain to think on the bright side, download our free resource, Top 10 Ways to Positive Thinking.