Positive thinking plays a crucial role in stress management and mental health. When you see the world from a positive perspective, it becomes easier to cope with stress, and makes life more enjoyable overall.
Although it sometimes feels like “positive thinking” has been hijacked by the naïve, positive thinking is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes, and even the most cynical and negative people can actually find themselves seeing the world more positively when they take steps to improve their positive thinking skills.
How to Be a More Positive Thinker
The process is not easy, and takes some commitment, but there genuinely are ways to improve the way your brain processes information so that it becomes more positive overall. Some of these strategies include:
- Write in a Positivity Journal
Every day, write at least 10, non-cynical, unique, and genuine positive experiences you had throughout the day. For example “received a compliment from my boss at work for project XYZ.” At first it can be difficult, but over time you’ll find that you start to notice each and every positive experience so that you can remember it for your journal. If 10 becomes too easy, bump it up to 15. Make it mandatory, where you do not allow yourself to skip a single day, no matter how you’re feeling.
- Create Closer Friendships
Studies have shown that social support is also a strong indicator of better positivity and mental health. Social support is not a huge Facebook following or checking your Twitter every day. It’s genuinely feeling like you have friends that care about you. If you have some friends, tell them you’re struggling with positivity and reach out to them to spend more quality time. If they are positive people too, you’ll find that it helps you see the world in a better light.
It’s not that sleep necessarily creates positive thinking (although it may, because when you feel better it’s easier to be more positive). But there is significant evidence of the opposite – that when you do not get enough sleep, you see the world more negatively. When you’re sleep deprived, something in your brain chemistry causes thoughts to process through a negative filter, so if you want to be more positive you should find a way to get a restful night’s sleep.
- Fake It
The human brain is not perfect. It can be tricked, and it can adjust based on how it thinks you need to feel. If you’re not feeling like a positive person, spend time pretending to be one, almost like you’re an actor in a play or a movie. If you commit to it, and genuinely act like a positive person as often as possible, it can cause you to actually start to feel more positive over time.
Positive Thinking Is Possible
It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But you can change the way you see the world and improve your positive thinking. In addition to therapy, there are numerous strategies that teach your brain to think positive, and experience greater feelings of fulfillment in the world.