Have you noticed that you sometimes have recurring thoughts that bring up negative emotions? Maybe you recently realised that your thoughts are holding you back?

Most of us are continually challenged by how we manage our thoughts while we attempt to create the life we want. We observe motivational speakers and successful people around us and wonder how we can change to achieve our goals?

We have some great and inspiring news. Thinking positively is a life skill that can be practiced and developed. Your positive thoughts will create a more positive outlook on life, which means you’ll become solution and success orientated. You will become more thankful for the life you have, happier and through positive action you’ll then start to direct your life down the path of your dreams.

Are you ready to take the journey towards creating a happier life through your thinking?

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Understanding Negative Thinking

We still don’t understand the complete workings of the brain, but one thing is for certain and proven, the more we repeat a certain thought or idea, the more it will become habit. It’s like walking down a brand-new footpath; the more you walk down the same way, the more established the path becomes and it also becomes easier to follow it the next time around.

Dreams in your hands
The life of your dreams is in your hands and it all starts with a willingness to learn and grow - Image by Cottonbro on Pexels

Thinking patterns are thus developed through the constant reinforcement of certain thoughts. After years these thinking patterns become so automated that they could lead our behaviour without us even questioning them.

Did you know that the more positive you think, the easier it becomes until your brain automatically follows the path of positive thinking?

A lot of us are trapped in negative self-talk and negative thinking. That is until we become aware of the negative automatic thoughts and make the decision to change them for good.

It’s important to realise that negative thinking is generally established by traumatic events, setbacks or emotional turnarounds in our lives. They create false established beliefs, misconceptions and the type of thinking that protects us or justifies certain negative behaviours. Although originally established with good intentions, they were created due to a lack of wisdom, information, guidance and social support to see them for what they were.

Your negative thoughts were once the only means for you to make sense of an issue or to cope with the limited information you had. It is thus important to develop a sense of compassion, understanding and forgiveness towards yourself if you intend to neutralise negative patterns that were reinforced through years of negative thinking.

Positive thinking doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to the harsh realities around you. It’s about seeing them for what they are, taking back your personal power by changing them around and in doing so, influencing your overall life experience.

Trapped by Negativity
Our negative thinking can trap us sometimes, making it tough to see potential solutions in a difficult situation - Image by Donald Tong on Pexels

Are You a Negative Thinker?

So how do you know your thoughts are predominantly negative?  The first way to try and establish this is to filter your thoughts daily and identify negative thinking. If you’ve had an overall good experience of an event and tend to focus on the aspects that didn’t go well, your strife towards perfection could become a stumbling block for focussing on the positive.

Pessimists are those people whose thoughts are generally dominated by negative thinking.  Optimists on the other hand tend to look at the bright side of life.

Experiencing a disappointment and blaming yourself can also be a sign that you tend to migrate to bad self-talk. Sometimes we don’t have all the facts and it is important to investigate and realise that some things are not within our control. If you have done all you could, that should be good enough and you should learn to accept the uncontrollable aspects around life with grace if you want to live a truly happy life.

Pessimists tend to also expect the worst. Monitor your thoughts and see if you are inclined to expect things to go wrong when evaluating a scenario with an unknown outcome. Negative thinkers see everything as black and white, not realizing that sometimes it is not that simple, and we have to deal with a lot of complexities, grey areas and unknowns around certain circumstances.

Becoming your best friend
Becoming your own best friend will help you to overcome a lot of obstacles and challenges that life throws at you, it is however, important to speak up when things become too much for you - Image by Keisha-Montfleury on Unsplash

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

  1. Improved Health

It is unclear exactly how being positive can impact your health, but researchers noticed that positive thinkers tend to have better overall psychological and physiological health. It will improve your well-being and with less stress you’ll enjoy increased immunity, better cardiovascular health and less depression.

  1. Greater drive and motivation

One of the biggest hurdles for motivation on the path to your dreams is self-doubt.  Developing self-confidence and boosting yourself, especially through trying times, will help to keep you motivated. You have to learn to become your biggest fan, because if you believe in yourself you will continue to push forward to achieve your goals and learn to build resilience in the face of adversity.

  1. Healthier relationships

A positive mindset is contagious and if you maintain a positive outlook to life you will start to influence those around you, positively. Have you ever noticed how a person with confidence tends to be more attractive? By becoming an optimist you’ll be able to spread joy, uplift your friends, express love and gratitude to your family and use positive words of affirmation to create stronger bonds with everyone you come into contact with.

  1. Stronger self-esteem and confidence

We all have a constant stream of thoughts running through our mind the whole time. One of the biggest focus areas if you want to become more positive is to address any form of negativity towards yourself. For some of us this could take years as ‘the outside world’ has proven to us time and again that we are not worthy of being happy and abundantly blessed.

Learning to love yourself while you continue to work towards becoming the best version of yourself means you have to carefully filter the opinions and influences in your life.  Not everyone’s opinion is important and the most important opinion is that of yourself.  Change that to be more positive and your overall experience of the world will change.

“We lift ourselves by our thought, we climb upon our vision of ourselves”

– Orison Swett Marden –

  1. Happiness and joyful living

We all want to be happy, but why aren’t we? There are thousands of possible reasons for that and if you choose to take a journey of growth and personal development, you’ll start to identify the aspects and behaviours that keeps you from living joyfully. Adopting a positive outlook to life will help you to focus on positive things in your life and you'll get continuous reminders of the good things you already have and enjoy.

Positive self-image
Do you have a positive self-image? Focussing on what you love about yourself will make you more confident and happy - Image by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

How to Make Your Thoughts Positive?

Like any habit, developing positive thinking will take a bit of effort and practice.  But it’s all possible and has been proven that even as adults we can change the brain in such a way that it’s more prone to positivity.

Positive thinking and mindful living has also been proven to decrease the size of the amygdala in the brain, the part that’s usually associated with our fight or flight response.

Here are a couple of pointers on how you can start to develop a more optimistic view to life and hopefully stay positive as you continue to tackle the challenges in life:

  • Meditation – Learn to cultivate mindfulness and how to live in the moment. Meditation will help you identify thought patterns that keep you from the present, guide you in letting go of the past and allows you to address these with awareness and compassion.
  • Look for the bright side of lifeFinding humour will help train your brain to identify positive things. Laughter has a positive chemical effect on your brain to make your mind and body happier and with this active practice you’ll learn how you seek out and grow your positive thoughts until they become more habitual.
  • Self-care is key – Exercise and a healthy diet is fundamental in creating an overall happier lifestyle and positivity. A healthy lifestyle will positively influence your mood and reduce stress and these actions of self-love and gratitude towards your body will have a ripple effect on other areas of your life.
  • Surround yourself with positive vibes – Are you hanging out with optimists and successful people? Negative people will not only cause stress in your life, they will also have a negative impact on all the hard work you are doing to change your thinking. Positive people will inspire and support you while they help you identify and eliminate further areas of negativity.
The right friends
Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. They will provide positive support and advice as you travel through life - Image by Nappy on Pexels
  • Create positive self-talkAffirmations are great tools to neutralise negative thoughts and self-talk. The moment you realise you have a negative thought about yourself you should redirect your mind to something positive about yourself. Creating a positive affirmation to reinforce a positive thought is an excellent way of working towards rewiring negative thinking.
  • Start with gratitude – Always search for the things that you are grateful for. Like a ripple these positive thoughts and intentions will start to change the way in which you see the world as you realise you have more to be grateful for than to complain about.

The journey towards positive thinking might not be an easy one, but luckily you can find thousands of online resourcesself-help books, positive articles, magnificent research and life coaches to help you realise and discover your true potential.

You’ll have to face some of your fears, challenge your false beliefs and continuously monitor your self-talk to redirect them in a positive direction, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Keep on trying and you’ll soon start to notice changes in your moods, your life, your relationships and your health.

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Mauritz

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