There are countless articles, books and blog posts written on the power of positive thinking. In fact there is an entire school of thought, called Positive Psychology, that talks about the power of thinking positively. And, although people make comments about the “glass half full” mentality, the full impact of negativity is often not taken seriously.
Negativity or pessimism is a pervasive habit of complaining about more things than not, believing that the bad in life far outweighs the good and constantly focusing on what’s going wrong rather than what’s going right. The problem with having this negative lens is that after a while you start to train yourself to see the negative. You become like a heat seeking missile, but instead of heat, you seek out flaws, upsets, mistakes, hardships, etc. If you do this long enough, you become sour.
Life can be hard sometimes. Most people will be hit with some truly tough times at some point in their lives. The difference, though, between the people who allow the tough times to wipe them out and the ones who don’t, is often mindset, not circumstances. The truth is that life can be hard…and it can also be filled with great moments. Seldom is anything in life—including life itself—all or nothing.
Until we can start to truly enjoy the gifts of life and take in the good things, we will forever struggle with the bumps. There are gifts all around us at all times—even in the worst of times. The trick is to train yourself to see them.
Tips to train your brain toward the positive:
1. Practice gratitude. Each day name five things you’re grateful for. They can range from a beautiful tree, to a person, to your pet. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is—note it.
2. Take in the positive moments. When good moments come your way—APPRECIATE THEM! Take in the moment of your child holding your hand or you and a friend genuinely laughing or having a great moment at work. Soak it in. Smile, be thankful and take a still-shot “heart picture” in your mind to hold on to.
3. Train your eye to see the good and the beautiful. As you walk through your day, notice the warm sun on your skin, the blue skies, a stranger’s smile, a compliment or a moment of quiet. Each day, consciously notice the positive things around you and say out loud what a cool sun, sky, dog, etc. you see. Work it steadily and I promise you will feel a shift in your thinking.
4. Look for the gift. When hard times hit, look for the gift in the situation. When my mom had a heart attack, one of the biggest gifts was having my sisters and mom all together and at times laughing so hard tears ran down our faces. The heart attack was a bummer—the connection was a gift. Look for the gift, the lesson or the takeaway in even the toughest of times.
When it comes to life and relationships, leave the negativity out of it. Yes, life can be hard, but focusing on the difficulties and hardships only makes life that much more difficult. Train your brain to soak in the positives, see the gifts and take in the entire picture, not just the flaws in the picture.
Challenge: Practice gratitude. Build up your resiliency; you have it, you just have to tune in to it. Your thoughts have the power to help you rise or knock you down—use them to help you rise. Seldom is anything in life all or nothing. Focusing on the negative will bring you down every time. Change your lens.