Have you ever had a day where nothing went right?
Right from the time, you woke up.
You overslept. Your son took too long in the shower. The toast burnt and the coffee tasted bland.
Right before you leave the house, your cat threw up all over your newly purchased expensive rug.
You missed the train. Bummer.
And when you finally thought you could get a breather upon reaching the office, you received an urgent email from the boss – requesting that report which was not due until the end of the week.
By lunchtime, you’ve reached your patience bandwidth and found yourself at the brink of a mini-meltdown.
Granted, the events that had happened did not classify as emergencies or even remotely life-threatening but cumulatively, they struck you emotionally. Events as such could either make or break the rest of your day. Some of us could brush these ‘mishaps’ off, self-regulate and not allow negativity to get the better of us. Such is the power of positive thinking.
For others, it’s much more challenging.
What we refer to here as a ‘meltdown’ may be an all-too-human occurrence. Meltdown may look like crying uncontrollably or snapping at others or lashing out angrily. Panicking or running away from a stressful situation is also a form of meltdown. Feeling embarrassed about a meltdown afterward is also human, particularly if it happened in a public place.
What is Positive Thinking?
The antidote to such stressful situations is through the assistance of positive emotions.
People who think positively in challenging circumstances are more likely to take actions that build resources, healthy coping skills, and resilience. Positive thinking encompasses the mental attitude of optimism, which searches for favourable outcomes in all situations.
When your life feels completely out of control, this powerful habit can get into motion a chain of events over which you have complete and total control. Joy creates the urge to play, be creative, and push limits. Contentment triggers the urge to savour the present and integrate current circumstances into new views of self, and the world.
How to Think Positive
Having a positive mindset can be achieved through a few different techniques that have been proven to be effective. Here are some pointers that can help train your brain to think positively:
Focus on the good
Life is full of challenging situations and uncertainties. Sometimes things do not turn out as we’ve planned. When you’re faced with one, it helps to keep your focus on the proverbial silver lining in every cloud. For example, if your partner cancels date night – focus on how it frees up time for you to catch up on self-care (and that much-needed ‘me time’) or a stay-in that allows for bonding time with the family.
The grass always seems greener from the other side. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have, rather than complain about all the things you deserve. Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and foster resilience even during very difficult times. According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, you can improve sleep just by spending 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed. We all can cultivate gratitude in our lives.
Practice positive self-talk
The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for negative ones. We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and be our own worst critics. The conversations you have with yourself can be destructive or beneficial. They influence how you feel about yourself, and how you respond to events in your life. Positive self-talk is a powerful tool for increasing your self-confidence and curbing negative emotions. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you react to it.
Adopt a growth mindset
Just like anything done in excess, when positivity is used to silence the human experience – it becomes toxic. Humans are flawed – we get jealous, angry, resentful, and even greedy. By disallowing the existence of these feelings, we fall into a state of denial and repressed emotions. Accepting our shortcomings is hard but it’s imperative to accept them together with the positive. By adopting a growth mindset, we see the parts that need improvement and actively pursue opportunities for positive change.
Open yourself up to humour
If all else fails, just remember that laughter is still the best medicine! Permit yourself to laugh especially during tough times. Seek humour in everyday happenings – when you can laugh at life, you’ll feel less stressed. Studies have also shown that laughter lowers stress, anxiety, and depression.
5 Advantages of Positive Thinking
Now that you’ve learned how to reframe your mindset to focus on the positive, here are some highlights of its benefits.
Benefit #1: Better Cardiovascular Health
Having positive psychological well-being can prevent cardiovascular health issues.
Benefit #2: An Active, Curious Mind
With a positive attitude towards life, we become more receptive to new information and enjoy trying new things without the fear of failure.
Benefit #3: More Energetic and Increased Productivity
Researchers have proven that individuals with positive mindsets are more productive than their peers. When approaching a new (or previously failed) task, they positively reinforce themselves hence increasing self-confidence and chances at success. Those who think negatively focus on their mistakes, therefore have a higher chance of failing again.
Benefit #4: Overcoming Obstacles Becomes Easier
Grit does not derive from intent per se, rather it comes from having a positive attitude and commitment.
Benefit #5: Better Relationships and Social Life
All of us want healthy relationships but they are not always easy. In disagreements, negative emotions can push us to make myopic and detrimental actions. Positive people tend to have built-in psychological resilience that responds better to negative moments and disagreements through the use of humour, creativity, relaxation, and optimism.
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