Do you wish you had a more positive outlook?
If you do, that’s a great goal to have. Research shows that positive thinking is linked to better results in business, improved relationships, more success in athletics, greater life satisfaction, and even better health.
Still, if you’re someone who isn’t naturally optimistic, you might be a bit skeptical about positive thinkers. I’ve even heard some pessimists suggest that some people are more upbeat because they simply have more to be positive about in their lives. Interestingly, however, research suggests that people who use positive thinking experience the same setbacks and challenges as everyone else. The key is, that because they view disappointments as temporary, they bounce back more quickly and show more resilience in the face of pressure.
If you’d like to develop a more upbeat perspective on life, there are some scientifically-backed approaches that can help you to turn your thinking style around. If you’re ready to change your outlook, give these three positive thinking techniques a try!
- Count your blessings
In life there is always something for which to be grateful. Whether it’s the love of those close to you, having a place to live, the sun shining outside, or even the fact that you are still breathing, there is something positive occurring if you’re on the lookout for it. Yet, often, we can completely overlook all of our blessings. To guard against that, institute a daily practice of counting your blessings. At the end of each day, get out a notebook and simply write a list of 3-5 positive things in your life. And, instead of writing the same things every night, try to mix it up by noticing little things – like hearing your child’s laugh, having a pleasant interaction with a co-worker, or enjoying a delicious meal. When you become intentional about counting your blessings, you might just be surprised by how many you find!
- Question your thoughts
We are constantly inundated with thoughts. By some estimates, we have anywhere from over 10,000 up to 70,000 a day. Our thoughts play like a recording in our minds, and because we experience them automatically, we tend to respond to them as if they are true. However, the reality is that our thoughts are frequently based on our biases, and they can work against us.
If you are pessimistic, there is a good chance that you have a lot of negative thoughts that you are allowing to run unchecked. Perhaps you are self-critical, react focus on the worst-case scenario, or become emotionally reactive under stress. All of these thinking styles can cause you to be more negative than positive.
To combat this, when you notice yourself becoming negative, realize that it is based on how you are thinking about something, and then challenge that thought.
“Is it true?”
“What is the evidence against this?”
“What’s another possible way of looking at this?”
For example, if you are thinking, “I will never be able to do this,” you could challenge that thought by reflecting on all of the times that you have succeeded. You then might conclude that, “This might be a challenge, but I can do this.”
Challenge your negative thoughts, be your own cheerleader, and talk to yourself like you would talk to a close friend. If you do that, you’ll find that your outlook will start to shift and you will experience more positive thinking.
- Focus on Lessons Learned
We all go through challenges. I’ve had some in my life – break-ups, demanding jobs, and deaths, to name a few. Yet, although those challenges weren’t events that I would have chosen at the time, they all served as powerful catalysts that really helped me to grow. How? Instead of allowing those times to make me bitter or hopeless, I decided to focus on what I could learn from them.
For example, after my break up, I learned what I could do differently in my next relationship. In my demanding job, I realized that I was learning some really valuable skills that would help me in the future. And in dealing with the death of my father, I was reminded of the importance of truly appreciating every day.
As the legendary actress Cicely Tyson said, “Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew.” If you can find some silver lining or sense of meaning in your challenges, you’ll be able to bounce back more quickly from them – that’s key to becoming a more positive thinker.
Psychologist William James wrote, “Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” Put these positive thinking techniques into practice, and you will experience a greater sense of empowerment in your life!
You can also read tips to relax your mind & body for a more positive mindset.