Negativity can discourage us, add to our stress, put strain on our relationship, make us less productive, and reduce our overall happiness. Positivity on the other hand has many benefits across our lives in terms of our health, relationships, and careers.
But, how do you become more positive? Is it really that simple?
Here are four key steps to help you to develop a more positive mindset:
1. Keep a thought journal
If you have a negative internal dialogue constantly keeping you down, you need to take action to banish these thoughts. If you have difficulty identifying this negativity within your own mine, a simple first action can be keeping a thought journal. Write down a random sample of thoughts you say in your own mind about yourself, events, people around you and other things that happen throughout your day.
Then analyze these thoughts by reading the journal every night and establishing your thought patterns.
Do certain events trigger your negative thoughts? Take note of these and the next time you are faced with a similar triggering situation, think more carefully about how you are approaching it.
2. Banish negative self-talk
After keeping track of your thoughts for a week or two, you will soon notice how consuming your negative thoughts potentially are. The next step is to banish these all together. Next time you go to write down a negative thought in your thought journal, try to rephrase it to that it becomes a neutral statement.
For example, “Bob forgot to take out the trash again so I had to do it and it ruined my evening” could become “Bob forgot to take out the trash. I did it.” This is a small but effective way to train yourself.
Don’t just do this exercise on paper in your journal; begin to rephrase your negative thoughts into neutral ones in your mind.
3. See the positive side
It can be incredibly challenging for many people to jump straight from negative thoughts into positive ones, which is why that neutral-thought stage is so crucial. By banishing negative self-talk, you are now in a great position to genuinely see the positives, in different situations.
Refer back to your thought journal and particularly examine the negative thoughts you have had. Putting aside all of the things you so obviously dislike about that thing, try to think of at least one positive.
For example, if you dislike your boss because they speak badly to you, think about the way that you are actually developing more resilience and ‘thicker skin’ by being in that situation, which is a positive result from a bad situation.
It can be hard to find benefits within challenging circumstances, but there is always a way to see something good.
As the Dalai Lama once famously said, “See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” Sometimes a lot of effort might be required, but it’s worth it!
4. Keep a gratitude journal
A gratitude journal is an incredible way to take stock of all of the wonderful things around you. Every evening write down all of the things in your day, and life more generally, that you are grateful for.
Perhaps you are grateful to your friends for their support, for the warm bed you are able to sleep in, or for the great weather you had that day. Write it all down.
If someone gives you a compliment that you appreciated on any particular day or said something very thoughtful, write it down in your gratitude journal too. Then when you find yourself being negative or critical, open up the journal and read over all of the positive things in your life that make you feel grateful.
This is a sure-fire way to re-ground you, make you gain perspective and make you realize how insignificant that particular trigger may be in the larger scheme of things. Context is important, so keep shifting your mind towards the positive.