If you have ever experienced happiness—and I bet you have at some point in your life—you know that living in a prolonged state of happiness is one of life’s most wonderful things.
Indeed, it’s in our very nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We love positivity; it brings wonderful sensations to our bodies and our minds.
And studies have proven what we know intuitively: if you focus on the positive rather than the negative, you will gain a multitude of physical and emotional benefits.
Not to mention that you will also create a wonderful, happy life for yourself in the process. Remember: thoughts become things.
So it’s most definitely worth learning how to focus on the positive and weed out any negative thoughts. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits, and then dive into three easy steps that will help you focus on the positive.
Here are just some of the scientifically proven benefits a positive mindset can bestow upon you (as listed in the World Happiness Report 2013):
Reduced inflammation, improved cardiovascular health, better performing immune and endocrine systems, pro-social behavior (e.g. donating money and volunteering), increased productivity, creativity and cognitive flexibility, higher income, reduced consumption and increased savings.
And you will also likely live longer.
What’s more, focusing on the positive will also spread positivity to the people around you.
You have probably witnessed this yourself when with a group of happy people. Even if you are feeling down when going to a party, it’s unlikely that you remain sad when the people around you are happy and having fun.
Happy people bring happiness to those around them, resulting in groups of happier people. Research suggests that happiness extends up to three degrees of separation: to your friends, your friends’ friends, and your friends’ friends’ friends.
Turns out positivity is contagious. Isn’t that awesome?
Quite an impressive list of reasons to focus on thinking positive thoughts! Now, how do you focus on the positive?
Focusing on the positive starts with self-talk. Self-talk means all the thoughts that run through your head every moment of every day, making assumptions about yourself and your life. It is always ongoing and cannot be stopped, but it can be influenced and directed.
Self-talk often comes out of habit: you tell yourself what you have learned to tell yourself.
The key to changing your focus from negative to positive is catching the negative self-talk and replacing it with positive, thus creating a new habit of positive self-talk.
1. Catch your self-talk
Condition yourself to be aware of your thoughts throughout the day. Stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking?”
Write post-it notes that ask this question or otherwise remind you to be aware of your thoughts, and put them around your house and office. Remind yourself about this question using fridge magnets, pictures, phone alarms, or anything to help you to be aware of what you are thinking.
2. Identify the negative thoughts
When you catch your thoughts, the next step is to identify whether they are positive or negative. Your thoughts are not inherently negative or positive; they are just thoughts, so it’s helpful to compare your thoughts to your goals. Do your thoughts support you or hinder your efforts?
For example, you want to exercise more but keep thinking, “I don’t have the time,” or “I don’t have enough energy.” These thoughts put you down and go against your goals and are as such labeled “negative.”
3. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
Whenever you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, make a conscious effort to replace that thought with a positive one.
Using the previous example, when you catch yourself thinking “I don’t have the time or energy to go to the gym,” replace that thought with a positive one, “I can find the time and I have more than enough energy for a workout.”
Essentially, “fake it ’til you make it.” Tell yourself that you already have what you are after. If you find it hard to deceive yourself, use words that you can believe. So instead of thinking “I have the energy,” think “My energy levels are going up and in a minute I will have enough energy.”
These three steps are all you need to focus your mind on the positive.
Science, common sense, and, most likely, your own experience prove that focusing on positive thoughts makes you happy and brings a multitude of physical and emotional benefits. Not to mention that thinking positive thoughts will create a happy, amazing life for you since your thoughts eventually become things.
But overcoming negativity automatically by making a habit of thinking positive thoughts is where the magic is. Make the three steps a habit by repeating them long enough, and watch your life transform in miraculous ways.