Training your mind to practice positive thinking enables you to increase your self-esteem and perceived control in your life. Learning how your mind works and how to incorporate positive thoughts can help improve many areas, including work, family and social relationships. Improving your life through positive thinking, however, requires a proactive effort on your part to combat and change your current lifestyle and perceptual attitudes.
- Identify the internal negative thought patterns your mind uses. Types of negative thought patterns include: personalizing (blaming yourself), filtering (focusing only on the negative) and catastrophizing (anticipating the worst and blowing negative events out of proportion). Think of concrete examples in your own life in which you internalized problems and used these patterns to think negatively about situations.
- Practice positive self-talk. Think of a negative situation which you encountered over the past day or week. Turn the negative thoughts you had about the event into positive thoughts. For example, perhaps you experienced a flat tire on your way home from work. Instead of catastrophizing the event, find a way to spin it into a positive experience (e.g., you gained the important skill of changing a flat tire). Practice this positive self-talk for several negative situations or events that you’ve experienced to get into the habit of training your mind towards a different thinking pattern.
- Evaluate your thoughts throughout the days and weeks that follow. Periodically stop throughout the day to review your internal thoughts to determine if they have been mostly negative or positive. Think rationally about the negative thoughts which you do encounter. Find ways to spin those negative thoughts and train your mind to see them in a positive light.
- Create a positive thoughts journal. Spend time each evening or morning reflecting and writing down good things that have happened in your life or throughout the day. Acknowledging good events and positive experiences, then writing them down helps improve your thinking habits and trains your mind to think positively.
- Find healthy ways to deal with stressful events and situations. Develop and keep an exercise routine several times a week. Exercise and regular physical activity stimulate brain chemicals that improve your mood and boost energy levels. Spend time each day in meditation, focusing on clearing your mind and on relaxation. Meditation decreases the negative effects of stress and rejuvenates the mind and body.
- Surround yourself with positive friends and family members. Negative people who continually focus on the bad and are unsupportive may only re-enforce negative thinking habits. Alternatively, making friends with and spending time with supportive individuals may help you achieve clarity when troubling situations arise.