Strategies that boost positive thinking, according to science.
When you think positive you just can’t help but be optimistic, even when everyone around you is miserable. As a result, you are happier and more satisfied with your life. So how do you get your stubborn brain to start thinking positive?
I’ll be the first to admit that there are an infinite number of things to be angry, sad, or anxious about. But the truth is that there are also an infinite number of things to feel passionate, joyful, and excited about. It’s up to us to decide which we want to focus on.
One way to train your brain to focus on the positive is to practice gratitude. Gratitude is when we feel or express thankfulness for the people, things, and experiences we have. When we express gratitude at work, we can more easily gain the respect and camaraderie of those we work with. When we are grateful for our partners or friends, they are more generous and kind to us. When we are grateful for the little things in our day-to-day lives, we find more meaning and satisfaction in our lives.
Need to build a gratitude habit? Try these 5 ways to practice gratitude.
Too often we let the good moments pass, without truly celebrating them. Maybe your friend gives you a small gift or a colleague makes you laugh. Do you stop to notice and appreciate these small pleasures that life has to offer? If not, then you could benefit from savoring.
Savoring just means holding onto the good thoughts and emotions we have. You can savor by holding on to the emotions you’re feeling in positive moments. Or you can savor by thinking about positive experiences from long ago. Savoring is a great way to develop a long-lasting stream of positive thoughts and emotions.
The broaden-and-build theory suggests that experiencing positive emotions builds our psychological, intellectual, and social resources, allowing us to benefit more from our experiences and be happier. So how do we infuse our lives with small bursts of positive emotion?
One way is to watch positive or fun videos. Watching cat videos or inspirational videos can generate a quick boost of positive emotions that can help fuel an upward spiral of positive emotions. Just be sure to mentally hang onto the positive emotions that emerge using strategies like savoring, so that you take your good mood with you when you leave the couch. And be careful not to get sucked in for too long or you may end up feeling guilty for not getting more done.
We have a bad habit of downplaying our successes and not fully appreciating our wins. For example, we may say, “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to.” But this fails to recognize the effort that you put in—effort that not everyone would put in. These phrases minimize your small successes instead of celebrating them. As you pursue positive thinking, happiness, or well-being—whatever your goal is—take note of your wins. After every small win, celebrate a little bit.