5 strategies for positive thinking
Back in 1919, an aspiring young cartoonist was fired from his job at a Kansas City newspaper. His editor told him he wasn’t creative enough and should look into work elsewhere. Had the cartoonist listened to his boss and given in to negative thinking, we wouldn’t have the work of Walt Disney.
Disney might have considered quitting or going after a different line of work, but he persisted. He believed he had what it took to succeed, and listened to the voice inside himself urging him to keep trying. He turned to the power of positive thinking, which encouraged him to go after success instead of succumbing to his fear of failure. You can adopt this mindset and experience all the benefits of positive thinking in your own life.
What is positive thinking?
Positive thinking is an emotional and mental attitude that focuses on the good and expects results that will benefit you. It’s about anticipating happiness, health and success – essentially, training yourself to adopt an abundance mindset and cultivate gratitude for your own successes and those of others.
How important is the power of positive thinking? It can make or break an individual. Your thoughts affect your actions. Your actions, in turn, translate into whether or not you succeed in your field, as well as influence the quality of your personal relationships and how you view the world at large. The power of positive thinking can’t be understated.
The power of positive thinking: Jay and Fariha
The story of Jay and Fariha is a real-life example of how positive thinking can transform your life. One of the first things Fariha noticed about Jay was his positivity – the “kick in his step.” Jay was practicing gratitude on a daily basis and cultivating other positive emotions thanks to Tony’s philosophies. He shared those philosophies with Fariha and both attended Unleash the Power Within, where Fariha learned vital strategies she could use to change her mindset and start living the life of her dreams.
From helping you stay connected with your partner to assisting you in developing a good organizational culture, positive thinking takes your life to the next level. Like Fariha, thinking positive may not come naturally to you, but when you take the time to apply these strategies to your everyday life, you’ll see results.
How to harness the power of positive thinking
Want to learn how to think positive? The first step is realizing it’s all up to you. When you become the master of your emotions, you can always determine your mindset regardless of outside influences. Taking responsibility for how you think, act and feel allows everything in your life to fall into place. Sometimes you can’t control life’s events – but you can control how you react to them. Once you empower yourself to change what’s in your control – you – then you’re ready for these seven ways to embrace the power of positive thinking.
1. Take control of your state
Have you noticed that when you’re having a bad day, your body language shows it? You slump over in your chair, you have a hard time making eye contact with others and do things like cross your arms when you’re feeling uncomfortable. You stop being mindful and allow your environment and circumstances to control you. This is not a powerful stance; it tells those around you that you are uneasy, angry or sad and want to be left alone. This creates a feedback loop as your own poor posture reinforces your poor mindset.
Positive thinking is as much about your body as it is about your brain. Take control of your physiology by taking pride in how you present yourself and project positive thinking. Work on your posture to give those around you nonverbal cues that you are feeling strong and positive, and are ready to listen to them. Try to nip nervous habits, like fidgeting or twirling your hair, in the bud. This technique requires you to observe yourself; as soon as you catch yourself giving in to a nervous tic or starting to slump, straighten up. As you hold your body in a power pose, positive thinking will be able to flow more freely.
Those around you will pick up on the physiological signals you’re sending and will respond with positivity. The more you portray positivity and others see you this way, the easier it becomes to think positive, creating a positive feedback loop. You will then be able to focus on others and do things such as asking three vital questions to find out how you can give to the world and others.
2. Adjusting your mindset
Adjusting your physiology is only one part of the puzzle; it’s critical to catch the other negativity trigger in its opening stages as well. Your mindset governs what thoughts flow through your head and how you feel and react to each one. If your mindset is poor, everything around you is going to seem all the worse.
For example, you’re at the airport and are unnecessarily delayed while going through security. Then the airline attendant checking you in is rude to you. Another airline worker overhears, apologizes and offers to bump your ticket up to business class.
Once you’re in the air, are you fixated on the hassles you faced in the airport, or are you full of gratitude for your spacious seat and free cocktail? Do you think of the delay as wasted time or as a way to take time and reconnect with yourself? Do you automatically revert to the power of positive thinking or do negative thoughts take over?
You can choose to focus on the negatives or the positives of this – and any – scenario, but if you choose to focus on what’s bothering you, it will begin to negatively impact your life. You’ll also attract more negative situations – people won’t be friendly to you when you’re scowling and hostile. You’ll forget that you can empower yourself to tackle any situation and start believing that positive thinking is out of your reach. You may even punish your partner or others for not living up to your expectations, eroding your relationships and adding to more bitterness.
Positive thinking bypasses that rage and inconvenience, allowing you to just enjoy the moment and be fully present. By consciously choosing to focus on positive moments in your life, you’ll begin to reframe your thoughts, cultivating a mindset that is grateful and open rather than negative and closed off.
3. Study your habits and form new ones
You can’t form new habits and harness the power of positive thinking if you’re unaware of your current ones. Are there things that set you into a negative spiral of self-doubt? Do you react to situations openly or do you utilize defense mechanisms? If so, what are they?
Perhaps you become agitated whenever you start thinking about going after a promotion at work. Your thoughts take you to a dark place and positive thinking goes out the window. You calculate how long you’ve been with the company and start thinking about why you haven’t been promoted already. Do your bosses know something you don’t? Maybe they don’t think you’re capable of doing the job. You begin to question your skill set, and then you wonder if you’ll ever move up in your field. Maybe you should just quit…
Think of all the time you’re wasting by falling back on this negative habit. Self-doubt is almost always rooted in fear – often the fear of failure. Trying something and failing seems like it would be unbearable, so your mind comes up with all sorts of reasons as to why you shouldn’t even make an effort. If you give in to these negative thoughts, you might not fail but you will stagnate, which is worse. As Tony says, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” If you fail, at least you can learn something. If you stagnate, you won’t.
What if, instead of getting swept up in a pattern of negative thoughts, you refocused your energy and developed empowering habits that utilize positive thinking? Stop the spiral of doubt by blocking it with positive thoughts. If you’re able to cut off a negative thought pattern before it gets out of hand, you can shift to recalling positive affirmations instead. By training your mind to block negative thoughts with positive thinking, you’re steadily training yourself to stop thinking in a negative way. Fear won’t rule you anymore: That’s the power of positive thinking.
4. Choose your words carefully
One habit that is essential to positive thinking is to transform your vocabulary. The words you choose – both in conversation and in your own mind – have a deep impact on your mindset. Studies have found that positive self-talk improves psychological states, helps people regulate their emotions and more. And the words you choose in conversation affect how others respond to you, again creating a feedback loop that can be either positive or negative.
Before you can choose different words, you need to recognize what words you’re already using. Take note of how you label and describe things in conversation, particularly your own emotions. Are you really “terrified” of that big work presentation, or just a little nervous? Are you truly “angry” at your partner, or mildly annoyed at one of their bad habits? When you dial back your vocabulary and use words that are less emotionally loaded, you’ll find your mindset becomes attuned to more positive thinking.
Many people find it helpful to write down negative words they find themselves using throughout the day. For every negative word, write a positive alternative next to it. Keep the alternatives in the back of your mind to use next time. Find this aspect of positive thinking overwhelming? Start with just one area of your life that causes negative thoughts, like work or your relationship status. Catch yourself in those moments, and build from there.
5. Look to those you admire
Think of someone who’s had a profound impact on your life. It can be a close friend, family member or someone you’ve never met, like a celebrity, professional athlete or renowned entrepreneur. What mottos does that person live by? Have they been able to unlock extraordinary lives due to their positive thinking habits?
Chances are, they use the power of positive thinking to find the success they seek – and you can, too. When you feel yourself falling into negative habits and can’t quite seem to figure out how to think positively, pull up a quotation from someone you respect. Read it and determine how you can best embody it. You can even write it down and post it somewhere you’ll see it often, such as the refrigerator or on the side of your computer screen. If the person you admire is someone you know and think of as a mentor, even better. Get on the phone and ask them to share some positive thoughts.
Positive thinking FAQs
Can positive thinking change your life?
Yes, positive thinking can change your life. Studies have found that positive thinking helps you live longer, reduces loneliness and more. But the most life-changing effect of positive thinking has to do with the law of attraction. This is the idea that what you focus on, you attract. As Tony says, “Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” When you focus on the negative, you’ll experience more negatives. But when you focus on the positive, the whole world opens up to you.
How do you train your mind to think positive?
The first step to training your mind for positive thinking is to identify your bad habits and negative thought patterns. Once you’ve recognized these, you can replace them with positive habits and words that aren’t as emotionally charged. If you find yourself spiraling into a thought pattern of worry and anxiety, ask yourself: What is this emotion really telling me? What am I really afraid of? Then make an action plan to overcome that fear.
How do you keep your mind positive?
Keeping your mind positive is a series of actions you take every day. It doesn’t always come easily, but experiencing the power of positive thinking in your life is worth it. One significant habit is to start your day with priming, meditation or affirmations. Your morning ritual sets the tone for your day and puts you in the right mindset to take on all your tasks with positivity.
Ready to find success in all areas of your life?
Want to find financial freedom, discover a fulfilling career your love or create the healthy relationship you deserve? Positive thinking can help you achieve your goals in all areas of your life – and be more joyful during the process.
Discover the power of positive thinking and begin making decisions that project you toward success with Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge audio program.