Moods have momentum, so creating a habit of negativity reinforces those undesirable feelings, until you’re mired in them and feel like you’ll never get out.
How can you change the tide of negative thinking and become a happier person? Work from the outside in.
1. Act like you’re happy (even if you aren’t).
Outer actions awaken inner processes. When you first change a habit, you aren’t doing it because it feels good. You’re doing it because the repercussions of the old habit weren’t satisfying. It may feel totally bizarre to act happy when you don’t feel happy. But over time, the external demonstrations of positivity will influence your state of being.
2. Don’t quit cold turkey. Replace the bad habit with a good one.
If you’re having a problem eating unhealthy snacks, it’s more effective to replace them with healthy snacks than to try to stop snacking altogether. Trying to think a positive thought every time you have the impulse to think a negative one will feel unnatural at first, but it will keep your mind occupied, rather than leaving room for the bad to creep back in. This will slowly transform your thinking patterns.
3. Try positive facial feedback.
Say you wake up cranky. Fake a good mood by greeting your family or co-workers with a beaming smile. More often than not, they’ll respond in kind, and you’ll begin to build a positive feedback loop.
4. Affirm yourself.
You talk to yourself (internally) more than anyone else talks to you. So, the way you speak to yourself makes a huge impact on your state of being. Start the day with a positive affirmation, like, “I am happy to be healthy,” or, "I am getting fit.”Use the present tense — rather than "I will be fit” — so that you can mobilize your subconscious mind to see the desired outcome as an inevitability. Repeat this positive affirmation to yourself throughout the day, especially if negative thoughts enter your mind.
5. Feed yourself wisdom.
We thrive on intellectual activity, and what we put into our minds and souls is what we will produce. Choose your favorite philosopher, sage, or expert, and speak one of their quotes aloud each morning. It will set the tone for the day. Apply it in your actions, if the quote has practical ramifications. Speaking the concept aloud connects your physical being with your intellectual, spiritual self.
Avoid negative influences.
Friends or even family members can trigger negative feelings and responses. Ultimately you are the only one who can control your emotional responses, so don’t shift the blame. That said, these negative relationships could make your efforts to find happiness much more difficult, and test your emotional resolve. Try to limit interaction with people who drain you, if you can’t avoid them completely.
At first, the changes you feel when implementing these tips might feel superficial. But if you stick with it, you'll start to experience a meaningful subconscious change within 20-30 days.
We all get into slumps now and then. Realistically, we will never entirely eradicate negative thoughts. But by consistently reducing the amount of negative thoughts you have, and replacing them with positive ones, you’ll create a more positive outlook and interaction with life.
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