Feeling less worried and sorry for yourself and more motivated to keep taking action.
But how do you adopt this habit?
Well, learning to think in a more positive way may sound a bit vague so in this week’s article I want to break it down into 10 practical tips and smaller habits that you can start using today.
- Start replacing the negativity in your surroundings and life.
What you let into your mind during your regular day will have a big effect on how you think and feel.
So start questioning what you let into your mind.
You can do that by asking yourself:
What are the top 3 sources of negativity in my life?
It could be someone close to you or at work or in school. A website you visit often. A magazine, TV-show, podcast, music and so on.
Then take out a piece of paper and or an empty document on your smart phone and ask yourself:
What can I do to spend less time with these 3 sources this week?
Come up with ideas and action-steps for doing that on your piece of paper or in your phone.
If you can’t come up with steps for doing that with all 3 right now then focus on doing it with just one of the sources.
And then, during the next 7 days, spend the time you’ve now freed up on the most positive sources and people in your life.
- When you’re in what looks like a negative situation, find what’s good or helpful about it.
One of the biggest differences between an optimist and someone who lets negative thoughts cloud his mind is how that person perceives a setback or obstacle in life.
I used to, for example, feel like giving up and going home when I stumbled into a negative situation. It felt like it was permanent place I got stuck in and that whatever I did it would not make much of a difference anyway. And so my mind filled up with pessimistic thoughts and I often beat myself up for whatever I had done.
These days I go about things a differently. When I find myself in a situation that looks bleak or negative I ask myself questions that will empower me and help me to grow.
- How would my best friend or parent support and help me in this situation?
- What’s one good thing about this situation?
- What’s one thing I can learn from this?
- What’s one thing I can do differently the next time to likely have a better outcome?
For example, in 1985, Frank VanderSloot shut down a small failing company in Idaho, but he didn’t walk away from it. He paid attention to the good things. While the business model had problems, he noticed the employees and products were positives. Based on those factors, he founded a new company, Melaleuca, which has grown into an international wellness company.
- Work out regularly.
When I have a tough time thinking myself out of negative thoughts then a short 20-30 minute workout with free weights can help me to change my headspace.
It is time well spent because it releases so many inner tensions, worried feelings and makes me feel stronger again. It focuses my mind and when I’m done with the workout then I’m in a much better place to handle what is going on in my life right now.
Working out several times a week on a regular schedule also helps me to prevent getting stuck in a negative funk in the first place.
- Stop making mountains out of a molehill.
This used to be one of my biggest issues. I blew up small or medium-sized issues or challenges into monsters in my mind.
Not a good habit if you want to take action to move forward or if you don’t want a lot of worries and fear in your daily life.
The easiest way to ground yourself in a situation where you start to sense that you may be making a mountain out of a molehill is in my experience to zoom out a bit on your life by using a question like:
Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks?
I have found that answer for me is almost always that it honestly won’t.
- Be grateful for a few of the things you may often take for granted.
When your lens that you view your daily life through is tinted in a negative way then it’s easy to miss the things you can actually be grateful for. The things you have that many, many in the world do not have or things you may take for granted.
Take a minute as you get out of bed in morning or get into it in the evening and put your attention on a few such things. A handful of the ones I most often come back to are:
- Three steady meals a day.
- A roof over my head during the rainy days and long, cold seasons here in Sweden.
- As much clean water as I want.
- The kind and helpful family and friends I have in my life.
This one is also a great way to change your perspective when you have a setback or a failure. Take a minute or more then to reflect on what you can be thankful for.