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The Secret to Making Positive Thinking Work For You

The Secret to Making Positive Thinking Work For You
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September 13th is Positive Thinking Day.  But there’s a trick that can make this easy and remarkable:  It’s called “Self-talk.”

According to a Mayo Clinic study, there are numerous benefits to an optimistic approach to life. It’s as simple as turning our thoughts to a more positive outlook and the results are significant including:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

But it’s not always easy to keep a positive outlook. This is especially true when high-profile political candidates seem to be obsessed with telling us how bad things are rather than highlighting the good stuff about our lives and lifestyles.

We’re going to highlight some great thoughts from great positive thinkers as we go along, in addition to identifying some clear and precise actions to accentuating the positive.

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened” – Mark Twain 

A proven tactic for engaging the power of positive thinking is something referred to as “self-talk.” Throughout the course of any day we are always having a conversation with ourselves.  Sometimes we’ll say it out loud as we mow the lawn, do the dishes or drive to the grocery store.  At other times it’s simply a stream of thoughts that cross our minds.  The key is to turn those self-talks to a positive mindset.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” ― Abraham Lincoln

It’s unrealistic to blindly put a positive spin on everything that happens in our lives, but thinking ahead to solutions and how and why things will be better can direct us to healthy and powerful solutions.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Eliminate the negative

Sometimes we engage in unknown behaviors that motivate negative thinking. Stop doing this:

    • Personalizing.  It’s when we blame ourselves for not get invited to a parry, wonder if our friends still like us because we haven’t heard from them lately, or simply feel that no one wants to be around us.  Don’t take it personally.  We’re all busy and sometimes events like parties and weddings simply can’t afford nor require “everyone” to be there.  It’s not you, it’s circumstances beyond your control.
    • Polarization.  It’s a characteristic of western cultures from western Europe to the U.S.  We like to live in a black-and-white world where things are either right or wrong; good or bad.  The fact of the matter is that life is a constant series of shades of grey.  Just remember that some days will be partly cloudy or partly sunny but every day is rarely going to be perfect.
    • Filtering.  It’s when we amplify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out the positive.  It’s essentially a failure to give ourselves credit for what we’ve accomplished.  At the end of any day, think about what you did right and got done.  The other tasks can go onto your to-do list for a later day, and “no” it doesn’t have to be tomorrow.
    • Projecting. You woke up late, spilled coffee all over yourself at the breakfast table and the dog took off into the neighborhood and you can’t find the dog.  It’s easy to assume this will be a bad day.  Don’t.  These are isolated incidents that are the more the result of circumstance than anything else.

Getting focused on the positive

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

  • Do a “gut check.” If you find yourself dwelling on the negative, try to find a positive aspect of the day or the week ahead and dwell on that.

“Count your joys instead of your woes; Count your friends instead of your foes.” -Irish Saying

  • Know what to change.  When our jobs, relationships or the dread of a 2-hour commute to work dominates our thinking we need to change something.  Use the 2-hour commute to learn a new language or listen to music or information that makes us feel better; buy some flowers for your spouse, walk into work like it’s your first day on the job.
  • Audit yourself.  If you find yourself thinking negatively, stop it.  Accentuate the positive as much as you can.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin

  • Laugh. Laughter is contagious and nothing sparks positive feelings all around you than when you laugh.  Watch something funny on the Internet; tell an old joke, find something funny in a situation or problem that lets you handle it or come to terms with it.
  • Exercise. This can be a simple as a walk in the park, gardening or a bike ride with the kids or grandkids.  Regular exercise helps to reduce stress factors and some factors affecting body-chemistry that affect mood.
  • Hang out with positive people. People who have a positive and upbeat attitude can help you effect the same.  If someone is negative about everything-stay away.

Getting back to “Self-talk.” If you won’t say it to someone when they’re in the room, don’t say it to yourself.  Self-talk is a direct link to the way we think and feel.  The more we tell ourselves everything’s going to be alright, the more alright it will become.  It’s really that simple.  It’s the reason positive thinking is so critical to our health and well-being and it’s a good thing that September 13th invites us to remember that.


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