A positive mind looks for ways it can be done; a negative mind looks for ways it can’t be done? -Napoleon Hill 

Positive people tend to enjoy more prosperity, joy and success and this is evident if you look at the high achievers in life.

They also had to deal with adversity and hardships. The difference is they’ve learnt to accept that which they cannot change, while staying optimistic about life and what it has to offer. They’ve trained their brain to focus on the positive things and by doing this they create ripples of positivity that results in positive emotions and outcomes.

But how do you get there?

Learning how to develop a positive mindset takes years of rewiring the brain to change the negative thinking patterns that we’ve established. Any motivational speaker will tell you that life is filled with disappointment, but how you approach these harsh realities will make it easier to deal with and open doors to new possibilities.

Being happy doesn't mean having everything, it means seeing how blessed you are with what you've already got - Image by Broken Villages on Pexels

Training your brain to approach life with optimism will certainly be a challenge, but the benefits to thinking positively far outweigh the negatives. Positive thinking has been proved to improve an optimist’s physical health, psychological health and overall well-being.

Here are a couple of pointers on how you can start your journey towards positivity and happiness.

Developing a Positive Attitude to Life

What is your general attitude towards life? Do you think everyone is out to get you or that the world is just made of suffering?

Optimists have an inherent belief that life is good towards them. They’ve developed trust, warmth and empathy and for this reason they are generally respected and successful in whatever they take on.

It is however important to realise that their focus on self development and personal growth ensures they continually look for ways to learn, better themselves and become more knowledgeable as they craft a life they want for themselves. They take responsibility for their own actions, but also their thoughts and thus the direction they steer their life into.

We can certainly learn from the movers and shakers that are sending waves of positivity into the people’s lives, but be careful of comparing yourself to other people as this might make you feel like you have not achieved enough.

You need to establish your own definition of success, craft our own path and become accountable for your own actions if you want to have truly positive personal power.

You might have to do some soul searching to uncover your attitude towards life. Life is a continuous learning journey and the moment you realise that and relax a bit, you can allow yourself to approach life with curiosity, creativity and an openness.

Success and positivity
Seeing the world with a positive mindset will change your overall experience of life to lean towards the positive - Image by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash

Surround Yourself with Positive Vibes

Being surrounded by positivity will allow this to seep into your subconscious mind and slowly start to change how you experience and see the world. Are you surrounding yourself with positive news, positive articles, positive phrases, positive stories and positive self-help materials?

Start to follow inspirational social media accounts, listen to motivational podcasts and look for inspirational quotes. You can also write them down on post-its and stick them on your fridge door or the mirror to remind yourself that you would like to attract more positivity.

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.

Another positive influence to welcome in your life is the right people. Surround yourself with friends who invigorate positive living and continue to encourage and uplift you. They will be geared towards the positive, point out negative thinking and motivate you as you discuss and navigate your way through daily life.

We all experience tough times, so be sure you can differentiate whether your friend is always complaining or just need a helping hand to lift them up. You can provide support, guidance and advice without taking on their problems. As for the negative Nancies, spend less time with them and find friends whose lives are driven to positivity and joy.

Choose positive friends
Choose friends who will continue to encourage and uplift you.  People who make you happy and are honest about your flaws - Image by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

Positive Weightlifting for the Brain

Revolution doesn’t have to do with smashing something; it has to do with bringing something forth. If you spend all your time thinking about that which you are attacking, then you are negatively bound to it. You have to find the zeal in yourself and bring that out.

– Joseph Campbell –

Positive people have developed the capability to turn lemons into lemonade. They’ve learned the carefully balanced art between acceptance and ambition, remaining motivated and driven while letting go of the things they cannot control. They key here is not to allow your thinking to hover on the negatives, but rather to focus on that which is positive and solution driven.

 Are you able to change a bad experience into a good one by focussing on the learning experience that experience has given you?

In the beginning this will be ‘mind over matter’ as you would have to train your brain to focus on something positive around a scenario and ignore the negative thoughts.  With practice it will become easier, so continuously practice and craft how you take negativity and give it a positive spin.

Cultivate Greater Gratitude

If you really want to experience the power of positive thinking and set positive emotions into action, developing a sense of gratitude is the perfect tool to get you there. Remind yourself of all the amazing things and experiences you have in your life, especially during times when you feel a bit down or depressed.

There is a basic law that like attracts like. Negative thinking attracts negative results.  Conversely, if a person habitually thinks optimistically and hopefully, his positive thinking sets in motion creative forces – the success instead of eluding him flows towards him.

 -Norman Vincent Peale –


Gratitude Journal
Practice gratitude by starting a gratitude journal. Write down daily what you are grateful for - Image by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

A good practice is to write down five things that you were thankful for after each day.  You’ll quickly run out of the generic answers and soon you’ll search for the things to be grateful for that we tend to forget about.

Gratitude dissolves all forms of negativity and positive energy will attract more of the things you are grateful for to your life.

Selectively Invite Negative Thinking

Not all negative thinking is bad.  Negative thinking can help you to create benchmarks, evaluate scenarios and strategies while it also allows you to set a certain standard in your life. When you are faced with a difficult choice between two options, the pros and cons to each side will help you decide.  For that you'll have to apply critical thinking.

Becoming selective in when and how you invite negativity in your life can thus serve you as you evaluate and find gaps in a plan or solution. The same with negative emotions; using them to deal with anger, fear and grief is essential and part of the human experience, you have to acknowledge them and truly experience them to get them out of your system before moving on to more positive emotions.

Develop Self-Love

If you look after yourself, you’ll not only live longer, you will also have a happier life. Looking after yourself means taking care of your body, mental health and spiritual health.

We are complicated beings where all these dimensions will influence each other. Exercise will help your brain secrete dopamine (happy hormones) which in turn will help to improve your overall mood. A healthy diet will not only prevent you from disease, it will also help with your personal motivation and self-esteem.

Love yourself to be happy
You'll have to learn to celebrate, love and accept yourself if you truly want to be happy - Image by Ava motive on Pexels

Address Negative Self-Talk with Compassion and Patience

Are you able to accept and love yourself with all your flaws or do you have that tiny voice in your head that constantly brings you down?

Negative self-talk is one of the biggest obstacles in creating a happy life. Developing kindness, compassion and appreciation for yourself will also influence your career, your relationships and improve your well-being. You will build more confidence, improve your self-esteem and become more attractive.

It’s important to celebrate you, the things you love about you and your achievements, no matter how small.

Want to learn how to change your thoughts from negative to positive? You’ll have to learn how to recognize negative self-talk the moment it comes up. Stop the negative thoughts about yourself in their tracks and replace it with a positive affirmation that will make you feel better about yourself. In the process you might again have to face some core beliefs about yourself that need to be addressed and a psychologist or life coach is ideal to help you unpack these.

Be patient and loving towards yourself, changing this could take a while and you need to become your own biggest supporter.

Establish Positive Routines and a Daily Practice

If you want to know whether people will progress in life, look at their daily patterns and actions.  Doing something small every day to advance your personal goals will slowly start to put the wheels of change in motion.

It’s the same with positive thinking and the best advice I ever got was someone telling me to spend time every day on the things that I’m doing for my own personal growth.

Meditate for positive change
Meditation is an excellent way to teach your brain to live in the moment - Image by Cottonbro on Pexels

Creating a daily practice around your self-care and objective to develop positive thinking will ensure you evaluate, tweak and continuously work towards becoming a positive thinker. It will help with stress management while also signalling to areas of your life that needs to be addressed while you continue work with self awareness.

Your daily practice can include one or more of the following:

  • A gratitude journal where you write down the things you are thankful for
  • Meditation to clear your mind and learn to live in the moment
  • Reading a self help book that helps you advance your growth and provide constructive perspectives
  • A walk in nature with your dog.

Ask The Experts

Depression is real
If you feel that life is too much for you and all these ideas might be too challenging we recommend a support group, psychiatrist or professional psychologist.  - Image by Trym Nilsen on Unsplash

Never be afraid to ask for help. The South African Depression and anxiety group provides free help and guidance.

A life coach is the perfect person to guide you in establishing your personal goals and align your actions with your beliefs. They know the answers are all locked inside you as you are the only one that determines the direction you want to steer your life in, but they’ll be able to objectively coach you while providing tools and exercises that will help you get clarity, take action and maintain a positive attitude.

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Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.