“See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” ~Dalai Lama
Even though I’m a coach and a mentor, it is easy for me to slip back into patterns of negative thinking.
And once you give in to a negative thought, it doesn’t stop there – it snowballs into bigger, uglier thoughts.
It spirals from there and before you realise it, you’re way into the future, which hasn’t even happened yet.
You may be a driven person, but you’re only human. You get tired, stuck, unsure, confused and fed up. You hit a plateau. You fear failure.
Of course, fear can drive people too – if you have an unpaid bill you’re jolted into action to find more clients. But once the bill is cleared, you lose momentum. You want more to look forward to, instead of something to move away from.
That’s why it’s so important snap out of this state of mind with positive thinking.
It has been almost five years I quit reading news. Of course, if there’s a piece of news item floating on social media, I don’t avoid it, but I don’t seek it either. It’s great to keep up with current affairs if you want to broaden your knowledge base, but media tends to create hype and magnify depressing information. Replace news with books. Biographies. Personal development material. Podcasts. Use news sparingly and do your research rather than trusting one source.
Because it stretches your comfort zone. If you find your life is too smooth, perhaps you’re not challenging yourself enough. As individuals, we are either green and growing or ripe and rotting. One way to assure growth is by saying yes to a new experience. Are you uncomfortable with hugs? Hug someone today. Besides releasing the happiness hormone oxytocin in your brain, hugs will expand your comfort zone, which will make you feel even better.
There’s always more than one way of looking at a situation. Whatever the situation, find your silver lining and then hold on to it as you find the solution. One way to do this is to ask: How can this make me stronger and positively affect me?
When you vividly visualise everything in detail, you are a step closer to achieving it. You trigger a series of subconscious processes that help you reach your goals. We’re already visualising, perhaps without consciously knowing it – so might as well do it right.
A thank you can save a life. In fact, it can create a ripple effect and spread in the town like fire. When you say thank you to small things that people do, you’re opening a way to a bigger partnership to create something more awesome.
Besides, saying thank you boosts your immune system and reduces stress.
Sure, you may not have any control on what has happened. But you always have a choice about what happens next. Quit saying “I don’t have a choice” because that’s not true. As Randy Pausch said, you cannot change the cards that are dealt, but you can change how you play them. How are you going to play yours?
It’s funny how we instantly react to harsh feedback from other people, yet when it comes to our self-talk, we accept unsupportive chatter. It’s good to set high expectations but doesn’t help if you’re constantly beating yourself up on the apparent failures. Be your biggest cheer-leader. It works wonders.
Body language and posture affect our thoughts and moods. When you sit up straight, you are likely to remember positive memories and think positive. Erik Peper did extensive research in this area and found that a good posture increases happiness, productivity and literally makes you more powerful.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Allow yourself to play – it’s okay to do so sometimes. When you indulge in things you enjoy, you’re valuing and prizing yourself. You’re expressing self-love, which comes before you can love others. In short, you’re training your subconscious mind to believe you’re worth it and deserve the occasional indulgence.
Playfulness is more important than play. It’s contagious, cheerful, frolic, joyous, merry and vivacious. Being playful is not about wasting time on an addictive Android game but having an internal positive and spirited state of mind.
And you don’t have to do it all at once – take your time. The challenge is to come up with 100 things you love about your life. What’s your #1?
We all face hard times in life when it feels like hitting rock bottom. But nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass. Everything does. Think about the big hairy problem you had five years ago. One year ago. A month ago. It probably does not exist anymore. You get the drift right?
We’re constantly surrounded by beauty. You just got to let it sink in. There’s beauty in how you don’t have to make a conscious effort to breathe. There’s beauty in great smelling coffee you had this morning. In music and in the smile of your friend. Acknowledge the beauty in little things that we take for granted.
Do you trust people easily? Or does it take a lot of effort for someone to convince you? If you believe the world is a good place, you’ll naturally be trusting of others. This doesn’t mean being naïve. It means giving someone a chance, a benefit of doubt. And making this an overarching theme of your life.
Identify the most important, meaningful tasks in your to do list and tackle them now. Say “yes” to the right things, and no to most other “busy-work” requests. Arriving at this comfortable balance can seem difficult, but it’s not impossible.
Because no one else is going to do that for you. This plays out especially when it comes to making decisions. If there’s a fork-in-the-road type situation, you stumble. What to do? What if I fail? Here’s a cool way-out: You don’t have to pick one. A fork creates dilemma. So pick both instead of sticking to one strategy. Try out one for a while, assess and learn. Then try another. Now pick the best out of the two.
Helping others makes us happy. It is easy to blow up the size of our problems when we’re too focused on ourselves. Take the focus off you for some time and put it elsewhere on someone else. It will take your mind off things and you’ll come to realise everyone has problems, but that shouldn’t steal away from the good times in your life.
The worst isn’t when you hit rock bottom. It’s when you imagine what would happen if you do hit it. Focus on the now. Stop gazing into the endless pit and focus on what you can do right now to achieve a goal. Then go, do it.
Physiology creates psychology. There’s a mind-body connection and smiling makes you feel happier. The act of smiling tells your brain to be happy. A German study found that just by clenching a pen between teeth, people felt happier. Whereas when they held a pen in their protruding lips (like a pout), they felt unhappy.
But you can be the best version of you. Struggle is proof of progress. Everything you want lies between the gap of wanting and taking concrete action. Every little action step counts.
Positive thinking produces vision, goals and big picture ideas. Negative thoughts lead to solid planning and execution. Let’s face it – you’re going to have negative thoughts every once in a while. It’s natural. It’s your protective ego at work. But it’s not all bad. You get motivated both ways: by focusing on the positive vision and moving away from the negative scenario. Acknowledge your negative thoughts and use them to your advantage.
I’m curious to know – how do you practise positive thinking? Do you have more ideas to share? Talk to us in the comments!