Positive Thinking: 7 Top Tips for Looking on the Bright Side

Yoga Teacher demonstrates Happy Eagle arms with the power of positive thinking
Happy Eagle Arms with the Power of Positive Thinking

The power of Positive Thinking has been known for thousands of years. This quote and its many variants are attributed to Henry Ford the great industrialist and suggests that everything we do (or do not) is down to our mind set.

“If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Henry Ford

Put simply if you think positively you will draw positive things to you. What happens when you think optimistically? You stand up straight. Walk with a spring in your step. Say a cheery ‘Hello’ to a passer-by. Maybe even hum a little tune. Your breathing slows down. AND everything begins to look better in your life. People recognise this. Even animals recognise this and as a result are drawn to you. When you give off good vibes, good vibes come right back at you.

If you are feeling down in the dumps, what happens? You sit hunched over, restricting oxygen to your lungs. Your face is frowning and crumpled. You watch all the bad news on TV or on the internet and feel even worse about yourself and your situation. The deprivation of oxygen to your body means you feel lethargic so decide not to get on with the housework or go out for a walk. AND it’s a cycle downwards – people don’t want to talk to you as you are often critical and negative.

Let’s face it we have all been in both situations – it’s called being human. Yoga can help us identify our moods – as we develop the idea that we exist and experience life through different layers (physical, emotional, mental). This understanding helps us to be the ‘witness’ and detach from our actions or thoughts as necessary. But it takes a lot of practice and it often feels like going against the grain.

Why It’s Difficult To Think Positive

We are all predisposed to negativity for survival purposes. We will always hold a negative or threatening thought in our minds for far longer than a positive or happy thought. That is why joy in our lives seems so fleeting. When we are happy, we can relax and don’t need to use our brains to organise anything. When we are stressed and anxious our minds are continuously searching for a solution, worrying about the future or what will happen to our loved ones.

It is difficult to change this behaviour as our brains are hard wired this way. But there are several habits that we can develop to train our minds to think positively. The scientists call it neuroplasticity which means the brain’s ability to change and develop new pathways of thought depending on the environment and circumstances.

We can go off things…

If we have bad experiences our brains try to get us to avoid that situation. It could be the work place for example. Deadlines, cross customers, boredom could lead to a feeling that you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning or a sick feeling in the pit of your tummy on a Sunday night. The reason is that you associate the workplace with negative emotions.

Well the opposite can also work. If we consciously aim to have good experiences this will mean that out brain’s want to repeat them. And if we are all positive and perky about said experience it makes us give off good vibes and – who knows – perhaps a friend might like to come and join you so you can do it together? We have to make a dedicated attempt to re-wire our brain n this way. No one else can do this for you.

Here are 7 top tips to help you make Positive Thinking a habit.

Positive Thinking #1: Kindness

Being kind to others has an extremely healthy impact on us both physically and mentally. Studies have shown that we feel better about ourselves when we are kind to other people. Kind actions have also been proven to make us feel happier and less stressed.

Kindness is contagious – when someone does you a good turn, you will be inspired to pay it forward, and the person who receives your kindness will feel the same, so on and so forth.

Kindness also inspires us to be thankful, so if you are truly struggling with positive thinking and finding something to be thankful for, do a good deed for someone else — you will notice immediately how great it makes you feel.

Positive Thinking#2: Make time for yourself

We all spend large parts of our day working to earn money or looking after loved ones. Out of your total waking time, how much time do you spend doing things that you love?  Setting time aside to focus on hobbies and passions will give you far more joy and happiness than vegetating in front of the TV.

We often forget that if we have the energy and willpower to slave away for eight or so hours a day with little reward outside of financial gain, we could easily spend an hour or two every day doing what we actually enjoy.

Remember you need to give off good vibes — like attracts like.

Positive Thinking#3: Stress Less

Are you working too hard? If you do, you will be unhealthy. If you sleep too little, you will be exhausted. And if you neglect your family or friends, you will feel lonely.

Why not allow yourself a little time to just relax?

Does doing something for yourself make you feel guilty?

One of my biggest problems is biting off more than I can chew. I just wish there were 9 days in a week – then I would have time to get everything done. Sound familiar? These self-imposed deadlines are damaging to you and all those around you. Stress actually forms the foundation of many life-threatening diseases, so in the long run you will get much less done if you are dead!

When stress leaves your body, your cells regenerate more efficiently. Less stress is literally more healing.

Positive Thinking#4: Sleep well

No one is in a good mood when they don’t get enough sleep. Let alone be all up-beat and ready for some positive thinking. But what can you do if you suffer from insomnia? Well first of all don’t worry about it – don’t add to your stress. Accept that there are things going on in your mind that don’t want to switch off and try your best to work out a pathway to sleep.

Some ideas that have been found effective are – setting up a bedtime routine that might include a bathing ritual, scent, gentle exercise or warm drink. Don’t watch screens just before you sleep, reading a book is better for the eyes. Ensure you are cool enough – the body temperature drops a little when you sleep. Finally, you can’t expect your body to be tired if you haven’t done any exercise. You need to have some exercise each day to tire out your limbs and then the body is ready for true restoration.

You can find out more about how to get a good night’s sleep on the NHS website here alternatively, try out my online yoga classes ‘Yoga for a good night’s sleep’

Positive Thinking#5: Try Meditation

Meditation helps the mind to slow down and relax. It gives perspective on our situation and can help us to reflex and be kinder to those around us. By clearing away negative and unnecessary thoughts the mind is rejuvenated and becomes more resilient. It’s the perfect antidote to stress and anxiety.

We can learn, through meditation, to tune into positive thinking and weed out the negative thoughts. Meditate often enough and a lot of damage will be undone. You’ll be left with a clear mind and a refreshed perspective.

You can try out meditation with various Apps or why not sign up for one of my online courses – click here to find out more.

Positive Thinking#6: Make Gratitude your Attitude

Many studies have proven that giving thanks makes us happier. It floods our brains with dopamine, the one chemical that has the potential to drown out the negative thoughts and anxious feelings we too often carry throughout the day.

Gratitude gives out super-positive vibes. Remember, like attracts like. If you make an effort to be grateful, you will find that you will be blessed with more things to be grateful for.

A fantastic way to consciously practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Every night before you to go to sleep, list everything you were grateful for throughout the day. Over time, you will see your lists become much longer!

Positive Thinking#7: Stop the negative self-talk

“If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Henry Ford

Henry Ford’s words are just as true today as when he wrote them. We are always telling ourselves stories about how bad things are. Yes, living through a pandemic is bad – but at least we are living and not dying. We need to change the narrative – instead of telling yourself “This is bad,” we need to affirm, “I can handle this” or “I will be okay.”

Pep talks work — they may be a bit American, but they do motivate, inspire, and uplift. Try to give yourself a bit of encouragement everyday when you look in the mirror. If you tell yourself at least once a day that you are beautiful, talented, or just plain awesome you will come to believe it. Or maybe it will just make you smile for being so daft.

I would like to sign off with this song from ‘The Life of Brian’ – Always look on the bright side of life. It was one of my Dad’s (whose name was Brian) favourite songs. Hope it makes you smile.

Published by yogadeb

Yoga teacher in Stamford, UK, and online

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