We live in a society where our family members are spread around the world, where it is easy to lose touch with each other, and the special bonds we share. This past weekend was at time to re-bond, and strengthen my connection with my three amazing sisters, Becky, Wendy, and Dawn at my beautiful sister’s wedding.
After the wedding and dancing the night away, I had time to reflect on how precious my sisters are to me. Each time we get together we deepen our connection through talking and goofing around about the good old days, and having a ton of fun. We also talk about some fears and self-doubts and learn from each other, which is so supportive for each of our own life’s paths.
What I learned is that my sisters always have a positive mindset and look at the possibilities in life verses focusing on negativity and what is not working.
Positivity expands while negativity narrows ones thoughts limiting the options around us.
Here is an exercise you can use to see how positive and negative affects your thinking. Image yourself in a situation that creates a negative emotion, something that creates feelings of fear or anger, and write down what you would do. On a piece of paper start out with “I would like to…”
Now imagine yourself in a situation that creates a positive emotion, something that creates feelings of joy and contentment, and write down what you would do. On a piece of paper start out with “I would like to…”
What you will notice is the feelings associated with fear and anger will have fewer responses, meanwhile the feelings associated with joy and contentment will have a significantly higher number of responses.
Its like this, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, love, contentment, support, you will see more possibilities in your life. As a result, this opens your mind to more options.
When you are in a negative mindset here are some things you can do to increase positive thinking in your life.
1. Surround yourself with positive people – someone who is a compassionate witness and can give you constructive, yet gentle and loving feedback. Call someone who will just listen and not fix, or can put things into a different perspective, and won’t feed your negative thinking.
2. Use a telescope view – and look at why you are having the negative thoughts, is there a message that is trying to get through. It’s normal to have negative thoughts, but if they are consistent and lasting for an extended period of time, then this is telling you that something needs to change. You can ask yourself, “Is this thought true, is this thought important, and is this thought helpful?” One of the worst things you can do is ignore the negative thinking as it will try to get your attention until you do something about it. Meet with a Life Coach or Professional Counselor, or somebody who can help you get unstuck.
3. Meditate – take 15 to 30 minutes each day to get really quiet. Light a candle or sit outside and focus on your breath, on the sounds, what you smell, what you feel, what you hear. The goal is to clear the mind processing, analyzing, or noticing any thoughts and getting fully relaxed.
4. Direct your thoughts – replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts and think the complete opposite. For example, let’s say you are thinking the negative thought, “She is better than me.” What you can think instead is, “She is good and so am I.”
5. List – grab pen and paper and write out a list, keep adding to it, all the wonderful things that entered your life just at the right time, with no effort on your part. Start with little things (sunlight, oxygen, a song on the radio, an animal). What you will realize is that the most important things in your life showed up this way.
6. Play – does not end with childhood. Block out time each week to purposely be childlike in your life. Life is not all about work. Have fun and enjoy yourself, and the company of others. You will feel so much less stress and be more productive. Dress up or go to a masquerade party, attend festivals, pretend your on a first date with your sweetie pie, learn to cook, etc.
7. Break a routine – do you do the same tasks at the same time every day? It might be time to change your routine. Do something different each day for the next week. Take a different route to work, brush your teeth with a non-dominate hand, get out of bed 15 minutes earlier.
8. Help someone – volunteer your time and do something nice for another person. Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, United Way, etc.
9. Grateful – list 5 things you are grateful for right now, what do you have that you appreciate. Here’s my list: My family, my furry four legged friends, my profession, and a new business class I will be teaching this winter.
10. Power Pose – our non-verbal body language is communication to yourself, what you are telling yourself. Change your body language, and you change your mindset. Do the following and feel the results. 1. Stand with both hands on your hips. 2. Sit in a chair and lean back, place both of your hands on the back of your head. 3. Stand with both hands on a table in front of you and lean slightly forward. 4. Sit up straight. A compelling YouTube video to watch by social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “Power Posing” affects the brain.
11. Take a break – from the news, television, on-line social media, newspaper, and radio is often filled with all kinds of depressing information. Take a night off, better yet, a week off, and do something enjoyable instead.
12. Explore – something you are already interested in, what inspires you, what gets your attention, what do you have a yearning to know more of? With today’s World Wide Web, information is at your fingertips. There is a plethora of sites to visit to quench your thirst. You never know what you may find…this is how I stumbled upon my gradate school in Arizona, something I was not looking for.
13. Imagine– yourself in a happy place, visualize what this place looks like, the colors, the textures, the aromas, who is there with you, what are you doing, just imagine what make you feel your best.
The key to thinking is to become aware of your thoughts and see if they are holding you back. If you are being held back by negative thinking commit to yourself to find a connection this week with at least one person – a mentor, a friend, a community – that supports you taking one step closer to your own personal path to positive thinking.
Positive thinking opens your mind to explore and build the skills that become so valuable in other areas of your life. Finding ways to develop and increase positive thinking – whether it is through meditation, creating a list, doing something different, or something else, sparks the urge for exploration and adventure, where you begin to develop skills that blossom into useful gifts and talents for your future.
If you do this, one day you will look back and wonder how you could have stayed in consistent negative thinking for so long, and that you know it was not serving you, but it was also too scary, uncomfortable to do something else.
I’d love to hear where you are in your thinking and if there is anything you can share on how to think more positively.