Being surrounded by people with a negative attitude isn’t fun. No matter what happens, for some reason, these people are able to see the worst in every situation. It’s almost as if they are challenged to find something to complain about.
What if that person is you?
Being stuck in negative thinking is stressful. Not just mentally, but physically, too.
How do you change? How do you stop the negative thinking?
Many people ask this question. There is an answer, but it takes work. It means changing how you look at the world around you, but also how you see yourself.
The first thing to understand is this: positive thinking does not mean that every time something bad happens you feel good about it. It means having a solution-oriented perspective. It means that when you are presented with a problem you want to find a solution, not complain because you have a problem.
If you’re ready to work a bit on yourself, here are 6 steps you can take to become a positive thinker:
Look for the Positive
Life is challenging. Other people do things that harm us, we get ill, economic downturns can cause us to lose our jobs, and more. Looking for the positive can be difficult. It takes practice and if you don’t make it a part of your everyday way of thinking, you will lose the skill.
When you have a strong negative reaction to something, take a breath, a deep breath. Calm that reaction so that you know your mind is unaffected. The point is to not dwell on the feeling but to focus on what can be done. Look for a solution. Ask what you can do about it and then do it. When the situation has passed, we can often look back and see how we could have handled ourselves differently – do this now with past situations and look for the positive, look for when you could have asked yourself what the solution might be. This way you can begin to see current challenges differently and practice looking for solutions. This will help you to respond more positively, instead of just reacting to the negative and complaining because you think you have no control.
Maintain a Gratitude Journal
Make journaling an everyday habit, whether it is first thing in the morning or one of the last things you do each evening. Using your smartphone or a pen and notepad, write about all that you are grateful for. Look over your day and recall the experiences you had that you are grateful for. This simple habit will help you recognize the positive things that are happening your life and help you see the positive in situations much faster.
Say “I Get To”
A small change in how you talk to yourself about your daily life will go a long way toward helping you become a positive thinker. One of these is the simple phrase “I have to do this”. You say it every time you do something you don’t want to do, putting your mind into the negative. For instance, “I have to go to work” can feel overly negative, especially when there is a project you don’t look forward to working on.
Replace the “I have to” with “I get to”. This way of thinking allows you to see and appreciate the positive points of the mundane, daily things you do. “I get to go to work” can be expanded on at any time to include “I get to go to work and finish that project that has been annoying me” or “I get to go to work to finish that project so I can work on something new.” Another example could be “I get to go to the grocery and buy the stuff I need to make my favorite dinner”. As you can see, within a short time this simple change of thinking will help you feel more positively about your day.
No Problems, Only Challenges
Much like changing the word have with get, when you have a problem you can instead say you have a challenge. When you have a problem it’s usually something that is broken and almost always something that is negative. Your subconscious connection with the word is what is creating the negativity. By using the word challenge you open your mind to see solutions.
Understand That You Have Control
Nothing that happens to us is good or bad, positive or negative until we assign that attitude to it. You have the ability to control how you see the situation and to understand what you can do about it. When you choose to respond, rather than react, with a positive attitude that asks “What can I do now?” “What can be done about this now?” “Does this really apply to my life now?” you are in control of your thoughts and your actions.
Positive Self-Talk Only
Have you listened to what you say to yourself each day? If you said the same thing to someone else, would it make them feel better or worse? When you catch yourself saying something negative you need to stop, take a breath, and instead say something positive. Ever say “I’m such an idiot!” under your breath? Stop. Now say “That’s not true. Sometimes I do smart things like XXX” and then list a couple of examples to remind yourself of what you are capable of.
There you have it. Six steps to become a positive thinker. Don’t be discouraged if you find this to be more challenging than you expected. You are learning, so that means you will make mistakes. Shrug it off and keep at it because you will be happier and those around you will be happy to see have you in their lives.