We must be willing to act to control our well-being. Many of us allow ourselves to be overcome by negative thinking patterns because we become frustrated by life’s challenges and feelings of being overwhelmed. This negative outlook makes it even harder for us to manage those challenges and move forward.
Practicing positive thinking enables us to focus on our strengths and accomplishments, which increases happiness and motivation. This, in turn, allows us to spend more time making progress, and less time feeling down and stuck. The following tips provide practical suggestions that you can use to help you shift your mindset into positive thinking patterns:
1. Take Good Care of Yourself
Don’t neglect yourself when faced with your toughest challenges. It's much easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest. Even if you don’t have what you want, do the best you can with what you have.
2. Remind Yourself of the Things You Are Grateful For
Stresses and challenges don't seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are right in life. Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and appreciate the good things will make a huge difference. A single breath of air to sustain your life is something to be grateful for.
3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions
A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, but our fears are usually not reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member's bad mood is due to something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you when you turn your back, speak up and ask them. Don't waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there is something to worry about.
4. Refrain from Using Absolutes
Have you ever told a yourself "I ALWAYS come up short!" or complained to a friend "I never get a BREAK!"? Thinking and speaking in absolutes like 'always' and 'never' makes the situation seem worse than it is, and programs your brain into believing that you are incapable of changing the situation.
5. Detach from Negative Thoughts
Your thoughts can't hold any power over you if you don't judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it, and don't follow it.
6. Squash the "ANTs"
In his book "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life," Dr. Daniel Amen talks about "ANTs" - Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the bad thoughts that are usually reactionary, like "Those people are laughing, they must be talking about me," or "My manager wants to see me? It must be bad!" When you notice these thoughts, realize that they are nothing more than ANTs and squash them!
7. Practice Lovin', Touchin' & Squeezin' (Your Friends and Family)
You don't have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, and even pets, is an instant pick-me-up. One research study on this subject had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. She received higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn't touch!
8. Increase Your Social Activity
By increasing social activity, you decrease loneliness. Surround yourself with healthy, happy people, and their positive energy will affect you in a positive way! Get out and do something you haven’t done in while and stop making excuses for not doing so.
9. Volunteer for an Organization, or Help another Person
Everyone feels good after helping. You can volunteer your time, your money, or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return.
10. Strategic Interruptions to Fight Worrying
If you find yourself worrying, a great way to stop it is to interrupt the pattern and force yourself to do something completely different. Worrying is being super-focused on something negative. It's never productive, because it's not logical or solution-oriented, it's just excessive anxiety. Try changing your physical environment - go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book, or turn on some music.
Life throws us curve balls every day. It’s up to us to control how we respond. We can play it safe and wait for the right pitch to come, or we can take a chance and trust ourselves and go after it. It may require us to make some adjustments, but we have the potential to knock the curve ball out the park. I hope you find these tips helpful as you strive to maintain control of your well-being.