It’s not surprising that positive thinking can directly influence your mental and emotional health. But, did you know that it also affects every part of your life?
According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking is beneficial to your health since it reduces stress and encourages more physical activity. As a result, this can lead to:
Increased life span.
Lower rates of distress and depression.
Better coping skills.
Stronger immune system.
Improved cardiovascular health.
Better psychological and physical well-being.
Additionally, science has found that positive thinking can help you become more successful in life since optimism encourages people to be more productive, engaged, motivated, and willing to take risks. Positive thinking is also needed during the rehabilitation and recovery process.
Of course, it’s difficult to remain positive between that negative inner voice and external factors, such as interpersonal relationships, constantly interfering with our happiness. But, you can combat that by using the following seven tactics to increase your positivity.
1. Reframe or divert.
The first step in approaching a negative situation with an optimistic outlook is to accept what you can’t change, says Karen Reivich, a psychologist and author of The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys To Finding Your Inner Strength And Overcoming Life’s Hurdles.
Once you’ve done that, you have two options: reframe or divert, says Dana Lightman, a psychotherapist and author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have…Create the Success You Want. Both will help you to instantly feel more positive, as they draw your attention (and thus, your emotions) away from the negative.
Reframing the situation involves looking for opportunity instead of ruminating on the loss. “When you’re going through something problematic, ask yourself, ‘What potential things could I gain from this?’” Lightman recommends. For example, people going through difficult breakups may find that they’ll gain the time to understand themselves. A rejection from graduate school may lead to a beneficial year of work experience in order to better prepare for higher education down the line, says Lightman.
Priming yourself to notice opportunities in the future instantly lifts you from a downward spiral of negative thoughts, Lightman explains.
Sometimes, raw, overly emotional negatives can’t be reframed immediately, she says, and in those cases, it’s best to divert your attention elsewhere. “Shift your focus to something else,” Lightman says. That could be something as simple as watching a funny video, calling a friend or taking a walk.
2. Ditch the negative for the positive.
Take inventory of
and what does not. In particular, focus on your friends, family, and co-workers. Instead of surrounding yourself with people who bring you down, spend more time with those who are positive influences. These are the people who are supportive and believe in you and your dreams.
But, this isn’t just limited to people. Think about the activities in your life. For example, if a specific hobby or exercise regiment is only bringing you stress then swap them out for something that is more enjoyable.
3. Pick a personal mantra.
“We’re often harder on ourselves than we would ever be to someone else, so talk to yourself like you would to your best friend,” Erin Parisi, a licensed mental health counselor in Orlando, Florida, told The Oprah Magazine.
Parisi suggests creating a personal mantra to help you get more comfortable with this. It could be something as simple as “Everything happens for a reason.” It can even be a favorite quote, song lyric, or poem. “This mantra can bring you a smidge of relief and remind you that things will get better, even if they suck right now,” Parisi added.
4. Take care of your mind and body.
This should be obvious. But, it needs to be repeated. Your physical health definitely plays an important role in your happiness.
By exercising you release endorphins, aka the body's natural “feel-good” chemicals. Meditating can help reduce stress and anxiety. Foods like avocados, blueberries, leafy green vegetables, chickpeas, walnuts, and quinoa all contain nutrients that can improve your mood. And, getting enough sleep will help you better control your emotions.
5. Practice gratitude.
“What you think is what you become. By taking time every morning and every night to recognize your blessings and bask in your gratitude, you’ll naturally shift your mental framework to the positive,” writes Matt Mignona for Whole Life Challenge.
“Challenge yourself to journal your gratitude and to be very specific when you do.” Examples include:
“I’m grateful for that special moment I shared with my daughter today.”
“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to feel the hot sand beneath my feet this morning.
“I’m grateful for the kind text my husband sent this afternoon.”
“I’m grateful that my superior trusted me with such a monumental project.”
By taking time the time to count your blessings daily, “you begin living a life of gratitude. Your dialogue begins changing without any further focused effort.”
6. Do something for others.
“It’s easy to get absorbed by our own world of misfortune and to forget about the people around us,” Gregory L. Jantz Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today. “Stepping outside of your daily routine to help someone else can provide amazing perspective and fill you with positivity.”
Make it a point to do at least “one nice thing for someone else each day.” This could be contacting “a family member or friend in need of a kind word,” complimenting a complete stranger, or helping a co-worker complete a task. Or, it could be“paying it forward” in the Starbucks line.
7. Become more mindful.
“When you spend your time in the present moment then it becomes so much easier to access positive emotions and to stay practical about what you can actually do about something in your life,” Henrik Edberg wrote on the Positivity Blog.
“When you get lost in the past or future like so many of us have spent a lot of time on doing then worries very easily become bigger,” add Edberg. “And failures and mistakes from the past being replayed over and over in your mind drag you down into pessimism.”
Instead, move more “slowly through your morning and hopefully, through much of the rest of your day it becomes easier to mindfully stay in the moment you are in.” Another suggestion is to give your full attention to what’s currently going around you. To get started, focus on your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, and fell at this exact moment?
“It might sound like a small and insignificant thing to do, says Edberg. “But this simplifying reconnection with the moment can have a very positive effect on the rest of your day.”
Final words of advice.
If the tips listed above aren’t helping you become a more positive person, then you may want to join a support group or activity like yoga. You may also want to speak with a therapist or counselor.