How to Think More Positively

Abe Lincoln famously said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be!"

We’d all love to flip a switch, watch negativity vanish, and become this walking beacon of positivity—inside and out. While it may not be that simple, it really is one of the most important things you can do to improve your life. How you feel every hour, every day, every minute is directly related to your thoughts.

We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. If you let your thoughts run with negativity—your mood will go right with it. (If you don’t believe me, the next time you are in a bad mood, ask yourself what you were just thinking about…) Luckily, it goes the either way, too: positive thoughts lead to positive change. Here are some great tricks to turn your thoughts positive.

1. Realize your thoughts are more powerful than just a good or bad mood. Your thoughts shape more than your feelings; they control your physical shape, too. We have about 60,000 thoughts a day, and researchers report that approximately 70 percent of them are negative. If you were forced to verbalize all of your thoughts, would you be embarrassed about all the negative thoughts that stream through your mind? Negativity is a defense mechanism, and it weakens your whole body. Say this is your running dialogue: “I’ve always been overweight. Everyone in my family is overweight. I can’t picture myself any other way.” Your thoughts are keeping you stuck at your weight. You will probably skip workouts, because you feel defeated anyway (how could you not with those thoughts?), and then you are in a no-win cycle.

You can decide to make different decisions instead.

2. Don’t wait for your feelings to change; consciously change your thoughts. Imagine if your running dialog was: “I’ve got this. I can do this. I didn’t gain this weight overnight, so it isn’t coming off overnight, but I am going to take it pound by pound. I am committed. I am going to see what I can do today.” All you have to do is decide to change those negative thoughts to positive ones.

3. Be on your own side. If other people could hear your thoughts, would they think you are on your own side? Back to that self-talk: it’s amazing how many people are self-critical and put themselves down left and right—silently. Sure, we can all point to something about ourselves that we don’t love, but that doesn’t have to be your focus. Focus on what you do like about yourself. Focus on your strengths. Make decisions that boost how you feel about yourself. If you find yourself rolling out the criticisms in your head, interrupt yourself and tell yourself to stop. Replace that negative thought with a positive thought or compliment about you.

4. Be your own coach first. You can decide to think supportive thoughts when you need a mood boost. You can decide to make yourself feel better if you have a bad day. Or, you can encourage yourself to exercise even when you don’t feel like it. Oftentimes, people don’t realize how much they can empower themselves simply by switching to an encouraging and supportive mindset and away from a critical mindset.

You will be amazed at what you can accomplish and how much more you will enjoy life if you think positively!

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