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We all have people in our lives who are good at positive thinking. How do they do it?
Most people get caught up in things that go wrong and spiral down into feeling negative about it. It is easy to do, almost natural. At the same time, we take for granted the good things and wonderful people in our lives. We often overlook everyday goodness–from the little things like the sound of children laughing, or noting a kind gesture from a stranger, or appreciating the warmth of a heater on a chilly morning.
Still, we totally miss opportunities for connection and happiness. By intentionally tuning into the positive and endearing features in our lives, the natural human tendency towards the negative is curbed. Positive thinking can in fact become more effortless. How? We need to deliberately recall and refresh in memory three positive things from your day, every day. Gradually, you start to tune into sources of goodness, gratitude and appreciation in your life.
Positive Thinking Habits
This habit changes the emotional tone of your life, replacing negative-type feelings with those of gratitude. Regular practice will significantly increases your degree of happiness. All it takes is about 10 minutes/day.
Try it for at least one week:
- Write down three things that went well for you that day
- Provide an explanation for why each event went well
- Give the event a title (e.g., “co-worker acknowledged my work on a major project”)
- Write down the details; exactly what happened, what you did or said, if others were involved, what they did or said.
- How did this event make you feel at the time and later (including now, as you remember it).
- Explain what you think caused this event–why it came to pass and how you understand or make sense of the event.
Write in whatever style you please, don’t worry about grammar or spelling and use as much detail as you’d like. Your topics can be big or small, for example “my co-worker made the coffee today” and “My mother-in-law is moving into town”. If you drift to negative feelings, refocus on the good event and the positive feelings.
Making Positive Thinking a Natural Part of Your Day
With a little effort, this gets easier quickly. Regular practice will make a real difference in how you feel. Don’t do this exercise in your head. Write it out, it’s important with the memory process. Make it easy to make this routine part of your day, some find that writing before bed is helpful. Do whatever works best for you, make it user-friendly.
It works because:
- It creates “space” to focus on the positive, teaches you to become aware and notice, remember, and savor the better things in life.
- Begin paying closer attention to positive events around you now, in your life and about the future
- Engage more fully–both in the moment and later when you share these experiences with others.
- Thinking about the cause of the event helps you consider deeper sources of goodness in your life, fostering a mindset of gratitude. Enjoy! This is a relatively simple, yet pivotal exercise in re-habituating yourself from the negative and towards a more balanced perspective that deliberately includes the positive that is all around us…just need to notice it more.
A lot of this is part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Interested in learning more? Check out our posts on this topic!