You hear a lot about positivity, there is even strand of psychology devoted to research around the topic. But is it just wishful thinking, woo-woo-ra-ra stuff or is there some truth to the fact that have a positive mindset can influence the results you get?
Having a positive mindset is not about thinking that you must be happy 24/7, that you'll never experience negative emotions or have negative thoughts. It is about thinking positively, re-framing negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. It's enjoying the little things and how these small everyday things compound to have a positive effect on your life.
Positive thinking becomes a way of being, a framework by which you live your life. In the beginning it's about being conscious of stopping and thinking, to consider alternative perspectives. Not jumping to conclusions that the universe is out to get you, seeing the world and the people in it differently. For example, you send a message to a friend, asking if they want to meet up for coffee. You don't hear anything from them. Having a positive mindset allows you to consider multiple options for what might have happened such as, they 're pretty busy right now and they simply forgot or maybe they think they have replied already (yes this is me, I sometimes think I have replied when I haven’t). Those not operating within a positive framework will likely take is a personal rejection, that they are being ignored or the other person doesn't like them. Having a positive mindset is more likely to put you in the shoes of others and to consider a greater variety of perspectives and reasons for certain actions or outcomes.
As you live your life from this positive standpoint, your reactions to events, people, environments become more unconscious. The generation of alternative options becomes more automatic to the point that you don't consider any negative aspects to it, you don't jump to those negative conclusions like you might have done in the past.
Having a positive mindset is not just about considering the different perspectives but about affecting our own thinking and behaviour and influencing the outcomes we get. Thinking and experiencing something positive can have an influence on actions and events which follow. A few weeks ago, my niece had a particularly stressful and pressurised day in which she had a piano exam in the morning and her driving test in the afternoon. Despite feeling naturally nervous for both and having previously failed her first driving test a few weeks prior, it would have been easy to be distracted when it came to the exam in the morning. As it was, she focused on the first task at hand. Throughout the exam she played the piano well and knew she had performed to a high standard. She carried the positivity from that through into her driving test and was faultless. It is no coincidence that the good feelings from the morning exam influenced her state of mind for the afternoon test. If she had played badly, the negative self-talk would have taken over, she would have dwelled on her previous failure and would have convinced herself that it was not going to be her day, she would have doubted her own driving ability. Going forward she can draw upon the day’s experiences and outcomes to help her through future challenges. I’m sure you can think of instances where your mindset affected your emotional state, influencing your behaviour and then the outcome, either negatively or positively. We can use our positive state and mindset in a variety of situations and challenges, to be in the right frame of mind to have a positive outcome.
People might think it is difficult to create a positive mindset but it's not, yes it takes practice; however, you all have the ability to do it and live your life more positively. Below are 9 steps to creating a positive mindset:
- Think positively, talk positively. Use language which is positive. Increase your awareness about how you are thinking and talking. If you the first thought you have or the first thing to come out of your mouth is negative, catch yourself and use more positive language.
- Use positive self-talk. Silence the negative voice. The little voice in your head is sometimes very loud and persistent when it comes to telling you what you can't do, the things you don't deserve, what kind of person you are and how things will end. Tell it to shut up, there are more important things to say like you are an amazing person, capable of fantastic things, reminding you of all the things you have achieved in your life. Let the voice that is promoting you sing loud and proud.
- Use previous positive experiences to get you in the right state giving you a boost when doing something which is challenging or stressful tasks. You will be surprised just how your body responds when you draw upon your previous experiences.
- Create a network that will stretch and challenge you, but which also supports you. They are there to take inspiration from you but nothing else, they push you to be your best and celebrate with you. Ditch the toxic people, they are not going to help you and will suck the life out of you.
- They say laughter is the best medicine and it is, use humour to alleviate stress and tension. You cannot be sad or upset at the same time as being funny, and by using humour, it allows you gain a better perspective on a potentially bad situation.
- Focus on the solutions, not the problems. By focusing on the problems, you are not moving forward and will be stuck in a spiral of doom and gloom. Switch to focusing on the solutions will create more options and whilst you might find more problems along the way, you will have moved beyond the original ones.
- Failures are not mistakes or world ending events, they are feedback, lessons to be learnt, opportunities for different courses of action, different journeys and different possible outcomes. Embrace them, don't fear them.
- Be present in the now, don't be trapped by the past. You are in control of your thoughts and actions, you choose what to think, what to focus upon, what to do. You do not have to choose to focus on the negative, you can choose a positive mindset.
- Be aware and practice. If you don't already, start to view the world and people in it from a different perspective. Get out of your own head and put yourself in the shoes of others and consider what might be going on from them in their world. See your life full of possibilities and opportunities, not a life full of danger, risk and potential losses. Practice to the point that having a positive mindset is your default position.
Choose to be the glass half full type of person, not the glass half empty.