I’m usually a positive person, but I’ve felt as though my thoughts have been veering on the negative side this year. Not cool. You guys know how much I value a healthy mind – I believe it’s just as important as a healthy body. And one of the ways in which I achieve a healthy mind is through positivity.
A positive mind is something I’ve worked hard on over the past 6 years because truth be told, positivity hasn’t always come naturally to me. When I lose focus on the quality of my thoughts, like I’ve done this year, my inner perfectionist and worry-wart come out to play. But that is about to change. So, today I thought I would share with you guys how I train my mind to be positive, both for your benefit and mine ha!
STEP 1 // Our Thoughts Are Everything
I remember a time when my mind was so clouded by negativity it felt as though I was trapped in it… And then one day it clicked – I can control my thoughts. My thoughts aren’t determined by external and uncontrollable factors, they’re determined by me. I have the power to sift through the thoughts that pop into my mind and detach from any negative thoughts that aren’t useful. And then it occurred to me just how powerful this was. Think about it, thoughts are everything, they are our life – thoughts create our actions, initiate our habits, influence how we react to situations and ultimately, thoughts effect how we perceive the world. It’s this awareness of understanding that we can filter our thoughts to improve our life that breaks us free from feeling like we’re trapped in our negativity. In fact, I believe it’s the first step to positivity.
STEP 2 // Plant More Good Thoughts & Detach From The Bad Thoughts
Now we have to plant positive thoughts and detach from the negative thoughts. Let’s start with the latter. When you have a negative thought, don’t mentally hold onto it. Just let it go. Let it gooooooooo. Can’t hold it back anymooore. Ahh sorry guys, I forgot we weren’t having a Frozen sing-along. Back to the post. Seriously though, don’t attach yourself to any negative thoughts that you have because quite often our thoughts aren’t truth – they are our perception of reality or manifestation of our fears and insecurities. I can only speak for myself and I know that I used to take my thoughts way too seriously, especially the negative ones. I can’t even tell you how many times I truly and utterly believed something awful about myself that just wasn’t true and after gaining some self-confidence I look back and think “what on earth was I even thinking??!”, it was simply my insecurities playing tricks on me.
Instead, plant more good thoughts. Every time you start to have a negative thought, let it float away and think about something positive. And if you’re in a really negative place and you’re finding it hard to think of anything positive, find some positive affirmations online (Louise Hay has some great ones) that resonate with the type of thoughts you’d like to have and repeat them to yourself multiple times a day. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find this super cringey and you’ll be tempted to roll your eyes every now and then, but believe in the affirmations as much as you can and I promise they will eventually pay off.
STEP 3 // Think Of The Brain As A Muscle
Now we need both of the above steps to work for the long haul and that is where ‘time’ and ‘effort’ come in. You won’t decide to be positive and then BAM your mind is forever sunshine and rainbows (man, I WISH). Good things take time. I like to think of the brain as a muscle – when you train a muscle regularly it will get bigger and stronger but it takes time and effort and the same goes for our brains. The more negativity we practice, the stronger the neural connections and the easier it is to draw upon those thoughts. Similarly, the more we practice thinking positive thoughts, the stronger the neural connections become and over time your brain will naturally veer towards thinking positively. So basically, you have to practice steps 1 and 2 every single day.
I know a lot of people switch off at the words ‘time’ and ‘effort’, we want it all and want it now (& we don’t want to have to work for it ha) but there’s simply no way around it. Firstly, you could spend your time wallowing in self pity or you could try to have a positive outlook – each option takes the same amount of time. One might take slightly more mental effort, but it makes life a hell of a lot more fun. Secondly, remember when I said in step 1 how our thoughts create our life? It couldn’t be more true. I know for me personally, when I go down into a negative spiral I nitpick faults in myself and everything else, I lose motivation to better myself and as a result I’m unhappy, my life doesn’t improve and I don’t attract new opportunities. On the flip side when I practice positivity, I’m happy more often, I see the beauty in everything and everyone, I find it easier to deal with challenges, exciting opportunities come my way and I’m able to improve my life. I know which I prefer!!
I feel like those three steps above are the most important things to practice when trying to become more positive, but here are a few extra tips to obtain them more easily:
Positive and happy aren’t the same thing //
Of course both happy and positive are related, one typically coincides with the other. BUT you can still be positive when you’re upset… The mistake a lot of people make when they’re trying to be positive is that they think they have to be positive 100% of the time and they can’t express any other emotion that isn’t happiness. This isn’t emotionally healthy and will only lead to emotional dysfunction. As you guys are well aware of I’m sure, there will be times when we’re faced with upsetting situations or, you know, days where PMS gets the better of us ha! Life will throw us challenges (& hormones lol) and when it upsets us, we shouldn’t resist it – cry it out, vent it out to a loved one or write about it in a journal. But the thing is, we can still try to remain positive throughout it (e.g. this is just life teaching me a lesson and it will pass soon) and this helps us deal with difficult situations in a healthier way. Aaaand if for some reason negativity gets the better of you (like it has for me lately), don’t beat yourself up about it – heck, we’re only human!!
Create a positive environment //
This will make it much easier to think positive thoughts. Change things up, fill your house/room with things that make you happy (e.g. photos of your favourite memories when you were happy, flowers, candles, happy quotes – whatever works for you), limit your time spent with people who bring you down, listen to happy music and watch shows that make you laugh. Sometimes when we’re down we tend to go looking for things that keep us there (sad songs/movies etc.), it’s strange but it’s true, so try your hardest to surround yourself with things that make you happy. Plus, once we start thinking more positively, our environment will start to naturally reflect this – for example, we’ll meet like-minded (positive) people, yay!
Be in the present moment and trust life //
Being in the present moment allows us to stop living in automatic and be aware of the things we are thinking. Meaning, we can consciously choose good thoughts. I know for me, my negative thoughts either stem from thinking about the past or the future – i’m either replaying darker times in my life that I’m obviously still mentally attached to in some way (cheers, brain) or I’m worrying over the future (& of course most of the things I worry about never actually happen). Also, to help keep yourself in the present and not worry about the past or the future I think it’s important to trust life a little bit – have faith that everything in your life (good AND bad) has happened to teach you a lesson or to bring you to where you are now and trust that everything will work out in the future (besides, if you believe that life will work out in your favour then your thoughts, attitudes and behaviours will align with the future that you envision, making it easier to obtain).
Good nutrition and regular exercise //
I know, I know, this is my answer to everything, BUT what kind of dietetics student would I be if I didn’t mention it 😉 Besides good nutrition and regular exercise can have a HUGE effect on your mood. Eating regular balanced meals (as in meals that have complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats), loading up on whole foods and listening to your body will make the biggest difference to your energy levels and your mood, making it much easier to think positively. And then there’s exercise… Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t… One of these days I’ll write a post without a movie reference ha! But Elle makes a very good point – exercise also makes it much easier to think positively. So combine both and you’re off to a great start.
Anyways, I’m off to walk my talk. Do you guys have anymore tips to add? Let me know in the comments below! Also, I hope you all have a positive and relaxing weekend!!! xx