4 Tips on How to Develop Positive Thinking

Being positive and more optimistic is a skill that can be learned like any other.

Nov 14, 2018

Positive thinking has tremendous health benefits and can help you relieve stress, reduce depression, and live longer. Studies reveal that positive thinking can even build up a greater resistance to ailments like the common cold.

Still, the phrase “think positively” gets thrown around so often that it becomes more of a cliche. So what does positive thinking really mean after all?

Positive thinking doesn’t just suggest ignoring reality and living with your head in the clouds. Instead, it refers to a way of thought that approaches life in a more confident and productive way. The old idiom about seeing the glass as half-full or half-empty expresses how someone can look at the same situation in two completely different manners. In this way, positive thinking means looking at a situation for the good in it, rather than focusing solely on the bad.

1. Positive Thinking Starts With Observing Self-Talk

Self-talk refers to that endless stream of thoughts that run through our heads. In many ways, self-talk can provide a useful way to analyze and process experiences in our daily lives. Positive thinking can help us take a step back, talk down fears, and build self-confidence.

But, as many of us know all too well, that internal chatter can also lead to intense anxiety and diminished self-esteem. Sweeping, unrealistic assertions like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m a failure” can have harmful effects on someone, paralyzing them into inaction.

Reversing negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thinking doesn’t happen overnight. Still, developing positive self-talk through daily thought exercises can help replace negative patterns with habitual, positive thinking.

In more severe cases, people who suffer from depression and anxiety often experience a high level of dysfunctional and destructive self-talk that distorts their perspective. Those suffering from this level of negative self-talk can greatly benefit from treatment from a professional such as working with a cognitive therapist.

2. Begin the Day with Positive Affirmations

As the Dalai Lama puts it, “Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” Setting aside a little time at the beginning of the day for positive affirmations sets the intention for the rest of the day. So what are positive affirmations anyway?

Positive affirmations refer to repeated statements, often spoken or written down, to help inspire confidence and optimism. Set aside a few minutes each morning to say a series five positive statements about yourself. Affirmations should stay in the present tense, only include positive words, and state a fact or truth. Some examples can include “I am good enough”, “I can accomplish anything I put my mind to”, “I have the confidence to face my fears”, “I trust myself in making good decisions”, or “I am healthy and happy.”

Repeat each affirmation three times before moving on to the next. The repetition of this practice will slowly develop a habitual pattern of positive thinking.

3. Set Aside Some Time for Meditation Each Day

For many people, the thought of sitting down and meditating during our hectic, busy schedules can seem impossible. However, meditating doesn’t have to mean sitting in silence on a two-week retreat to Nepal. Research from the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that just 10 minutes can help to overcome stress and reverse negative thought patterns.

Meditation apps like Insight Timer provide a great tool to get started with meditation which users can download for free. Choose a time during the day, perhaps right before bed, to practice meditation to help calm anxious thought patterns.

4. Take a Deeper Look at What Triggers Negative Thoughts

Positive thinking doesn’t just mean pushing aside negative thoughts and suppressing emotions. Negative thought patterns can reveal unresolved issues within ourselves and where we need to heal emotionally. Do you notice certain patterns of self-doubt that seem to come up over and over again? The situations or people that trigger negative self-talk may indicate areas of your life that you need to change or improve.

ALLISON MICHELLE DIENSTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Working from her laptop as a freelance writer, Allison lives as a digital nomad, exploring the world while sharing positivity and laughter. She is a lover of language, travel, music, and creativity with a degree in Chinese language and literature.

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