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Our thoughts are our lives: 7 Ways to Become an Optimistic

13.06.2019 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin

“I have been taught since childhood that nothing was free in this world. Like if you laugh a lot today, you’ll cry a lot tomorrow. Moreover, me, a little girl, was scolded for laughter and fun — the most natural state for a child. These thoughts still haunt me in adulthood. When something good happens — a promotion at work, getting to know a nice person or just a good day — I cannot be happy about it to the fullest. I am haunted by the idea that soon the consequences will reach me and life will show its true face and demand payment. Most of the time, of course, nothing happens, but it is not that easy to get over the ideas rooted in childhood. I think they’re making me miss out on my own life. So now the most pressing question for me is how to finally become happy and optimistic.”

– Elena, 29

If you are reading this text, you’ve probably heard about “positive thinking”— it is one of the main trends in the self-development and psychology. As is often the case with trends, there are a lot of myths and disputes around it. Many strongly oppose it, claiming that optimism imposed from the outside is unnatural for a healthy psyche; that it only results in more stress, dissatisfaction with oneself and guilt, if you find yourself unable to be “positive” 24 hours a day.

Of course, there’s a certain amount of common sense in that. You shouldn’t go into extremes. We won’t be telling you how to be always positive at all costs or to get rid of negative thoughts or to fight against anger, sadness, despondency and other emotions — all of them are perfectly normal and necessary for our mental health.

But pessimism brought to an extreme degree rarely benefits us either. The habit of seeing everything in a negative light leads to dissatisfaction with one’s life, self-flagellation, self-doubt and guilt. In such state it is impossible to fully realize one’s talents and achieve success at work. Relationships with people also deteriorate, because the pessimist does not believe in good intentions of other people. He becomes increasingly distant from society and reserved. Life loses bright colors and he starts believing that nothing good would ever happen and everything will only get worse. Such thinking can eventually lead to severe depression, which can only be cured medically.

That is why it is so important for each of us to learn to see positive aspects in life which are not as few as they seem. It’s just that the human brain is more inclined to take note of only negative things. In this article, we will tell why this happens and how to learn to think positively to make your life better.

Contents:

  1. The habit of thinking negatively
  2. How optimism changes lives for the better
  3. Seven ways to get into positive mindset

The habit of thinking negatively

The habit of thinking negatively

A negative perception of reality is quite natural for a person, and do not blame yourself for it. After all, our brains retained a lot of features from mammals, and animals need to focus on the dangers and the worst-case scenario in order to survive and keep their children safe. [1]

The good news is that the habit of perceiving the world in black is really just a habit — neural connections that have been building up for years. This is a consequence of a variety of factors:

  • received education and beliefs imposed by parents;
  • the rapid pace of life, and as a result – frequent stresses and lack of time for oneself;
  • features of character or temperament: for example, melancholic persons are fearful and naturally prone to pessimism;
  • hormonal failures that can cause depression and other mental disorders;
  • Influence of media that are more likely to publish bad news for the sake of high traffic.

Simply put, pessimism is a learned form of behavior, not something innate that cannot be eliminated. How to stop thinking negatively? We just need to build new neural chains. It is quite possible to cultivate an optimistic view of the world because it is build according to the same laws as the negative one.

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How optimism changes lives for the better?

“Before, I couldn’t enjoy life at all. I took my achievements for granted, did not appreciate the people who were next to me — I suspected them of self-interest all the time. I didn’t waste my time on “stupid” dreams, believing that they won’t ever come true anyway. But after some time I became so tired of dark thoughts. I asked myself: why do I distrust the world so much? Does each and every first person really only thinking about how to use me? Why do I restrict myself so much? I have a lot of opportunities, I can achieve anything I want. It was as though the scales fell from my eyes. I’ve re-examined all my life, mended ties with people, fell in love with myself — and my career started taking off, and my life became more interesting in general. Soon I’m going to Italy for a month. I will eat pizza every day, walk through the ruins of the Colosseum and visit best boutiques of Milan — everything I dreamed of as a child. Now I can give a whole lecture on how to think positively and why it is necessary.”

– Sofia, 36

How optimism changes lives for the better

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” This quote is attributed to many historical figures, but no matter who spoke it first its essence remains the same. You are what you think. Your whole life is the result of your thoughts. Thoughts determine feelings, feelings determine actions and actions determine your life. This means that to change your life you need to change your mindset first. [2]

Optimism helps you do the right thing and respond positively to what life offers. It does not guarantee 100% success but allows you to at least take a step towards it. After all, to win the lottery you need to buy a ticket. Many pessimists won’t make this seemingly obvious step.

The positive impact of positive thinking on success is obvious. However, not everyone believes that optimism can improve health. Meanwhile, scientists had conducted many experiments and each time found out that positive-minded people feel much better than pessimists. In particular:

  • they are be depressed;
  • they have lower levels of stress;
  • longer life expectancy;
  • higher body resistance to infections;
  • less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

In general, optimists are much better at dealing with life’s difficulties and have a better quality of life. Most likely, it is the “happiness hormones” that are produced in large quantities and better protect the body. Therefore, each of us needs to know how to get into the positive spirit.

The most important thing is to remember that we can control our thinking. We choose how to relate to life. It is never too late to affect your mind and your behavior to change your whole life.

Seven ways to get into positive mindset

get into positive mindset

So, we have established that developing a habit of thinking optimistically is very possible — you just need to set yourself a goal. Now let’s list different ways to help the brain adjust to a new type of thinking. Perform these exercises in a complex and do not forget that regularity is important for better results. In a couple of months, you will notice how your thoughts, mood and then life have changed.

  1. Purple bracelet

In 2006, the author of “A Complaint Free World” Will Bowen suggested that everyone wear a purple bracelet to learn to live without complaints, criticism and gossip. The bracelet had to be changed from one hand to the other at the first negative thought. The goal was to carry the bracelet on one hand for 21 days.

On the Internet, you can find hundreds of stories about how the bracelet helped people learn optimism. However, psychologists believe that such artificial suppression of negative emotions is very harmful to the psyche: it can lead to depression and psychosomatic diseases. Therefore, we offer a more gentle option. Use the bracelet to pay attention to your thoughts and think about the benefits they can bring. Perhaps right now you need to complain about something to a loved one to get a portion of care and attention that will fill you with energy. There is nothing wrong with negative emotions if you express them without harming yourself and other people, working through them instead of getting fixated. The important thing is that they do not cloud the mind and interfere with seeing positive sides to any given situation.

2. Gratitude journaling

Every day before going to bed write at least ten reasons why you should be grateful for this day. Even if nothing significant has happened, remember that you can be grateful for waking up this morning, for the delicious food and warm bed, for having loved ones — in general, for many things that we often consider ordinary and self-evident. This practice will help not to forget that there are already many good things in life — and it is a great foundation to build the life of your dreams.

3. Body language

The body and mood are closely interrelated. Therefore, if you cannot affect your mind, try to start with the body. For example, if you artificially portray a smile for only two minutes, the muscles will send the relevant signal to the brain and it will actually “turn on” your good mood. Do not forget about posture and confident gait, as another way to get into a positive mindset.

4. Positive energy as per schedule

You need to set three alarm clocks for any convenient time — but they need to ring every day. At the appointed time, take a break from work and think about something good for a minute. It is better if these thoughts are connected with the current situation. For example, if you’re busy preparing a report, think about how much you’ve managed to do. In just a few weeks, the brain will learn to notice good moments in the world around you. [1]

5. Meditation

This practice has nothing to do with trance and other esoterics. Its purpose is to learn to be in the present moment without worrying about the past and the future. After all, most often our pessimistic thoughts are connected either with excitement for the future or with recalling of past events. If you focus on the present for a moment, it will most likely turn out that right now everything is fine: you are at home or in the office which means that you have a roof over your head and work, you are not threatened, you are safe and you have the resources to keep living.

Find a convenient place where no one would bother you. The most comfortable position is to sit upright so that there’s support for the feet and spine. Transfer all attention to your sensations: feel the body’s contact with the chair and the floor, notice the sounds around you, observe how you breathe: how the chest or stomach rises and falls, how the nose draws in the air. You can mentally chant “inhale-exhale.”

In the process, the mind will certainly begin to wander, giving rise to some thoughts. Your job is to keep track of their appearance without switching attention to them and then return to breathing. [3]

You can start practicing with just one or two minutes; it will become easier in the future and you’ll be able to increase the time. The main thing is to meditate every day, for example, immediately after waking up or before going to bed.

6. Three advantages

When there is an unpleasant situation in life, you need to sit down and write down at least three good things that are present in it. When you get used to doing this every time, you will learn to focus on the positives, not the negatives, and to take valuable experience out of any situation.

7. 7Spsy Behavior Modification Technique

If our advice on how to become a positive and optimistic person did not help you, most likely, pessimism has deeply ingrained in your psyche and became a stable behavior pattern, which would be hard to change by yourself. After all, it would mean “getting” negative attitudes, learned from childhood, from the subconscious, and replacing them with positive ones.

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The 7Spsy behavior modification technique has been developed for this purpose. It is a patented behavior psychology technique based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky, and others. It affects the cause of negative thinking directly, allowing you to understand what lead to its development, and gets rid of it.

7Spsy behavior modification classes take place remotely, take 2 to 6 weeks, and start with the diagnosis of the problem. Throughout the course, a professional psychologist will support you. You will be able to contact the psychologist in online chat, by e-mail or by phone.

The result of work as per the 7Spsy method will be getting rid of pessimism, and profound changes in thinking. You will learn how to be positive in any situation, begin to see the good in the surrounding people and events again, and become optimistic about the future. Changes in life will not be far behind.

References:

  1. Loretta Gratsiano Broining, «Upravliai gormonami schastia. Kak izbavitsia ot negativnykh emotsii za 6 nedel».
  2. Dzheims Borg, «Sila mysli. Pomeniaite khod svoikh myslei, izmenite svoiu zhizn».
  3. R. Khanson, R. Mendius, «Mozg Buddy: neiropsikhologiia schastia, liubvi i mudrosti».