Positive thinking is a significant element of happiness. In order to become a positive thinker, determination and consistency are important. The first thing to know about positive thinking is that everyone can do it. With certain cognitive and behavioral modifications, we can all become positive thinkers. Another important factor is that being a positive thinker does not mean you become numb to anything that is not working properly in your life or is negative — it just means that you approach life and face challenges with a healthier outlook.
To become a positive thinker, these may help you:
Change your self-monitoring: Instead of selectively attending to negative events, focus on the positive ones. Then pay attention to the delayed consequences of your behavior rather than the immediate ones. For example, if a job is not going like you want, focus on the fact that you have a job and how you can take your time to make the situation better.
Change your self-evaluation: Challenge any inaccurate internal attributions and see if you compare your behavior to standards that are excessively rigid and perfectionistic. If so, change these and be reasonable with your comparisons. For example, if you constantly compare your weaknesses with other peoples’ strengths, then switch this and compare yourself with those who are doing poorer than you as well. Overall, people who focus more on their strengths than their weaknesses but at the same time are aware of their weaknesses have a healthier self-evaluation result.
Change your self-reinforcement: If you have low rates of self-reward and high rates of self-punishment when it comes to certain aspects of your life, then you want to modify this. For example, think more of how far you’ve come, how hard you’ve worked, acknowledge yourself for it and then see how much further you want to go.
Draw conclusions with evidence: Look at the evidence, look at the events, look at patterns and don’t base your conclusions on assumptions. For example, don’t just assume someone will cheat you because they look like or in some ways act like an ex you didn’t get along with. Look at other elements to see if there is any evidence for your assumption.
Don’t take things personally: The majority of how people interact with you is due to their own personality, strengths, and baggage and does not have as much to do with you. Pay attention to how to differentiate between different interaction signals. For example, instead of immediately getting frustrated because the waitress was a little late attending to you, think that maybe she is having a really tough day or too may tables to take care of.
Don’t do “either/or” thinking: Black and white thinking based on perfectionistic thought is counterproductive. Every time a thought pops up and has words like “should” or “must,” challenge it. For example, instead of saying “this should be done this way,” say something like, “I prefer it this way but I am sure there are other ways to do and am willing to be open.”
Don’t do emotional reasoning: This is a belief based on feeling alone without any rational thinking behind it. For example, you don’t like such and such but you don’t have any logical reason for not liking them.
Challenge your “what if” thoughts: When faced with too much fear about a situation, imagine the worst case scenario and visualize a solution for it, then let go of fear. This way, you will be prepared for anything and your fear would not block you from being open and creative to different solutions. For example, if you are constantly worried about losing your job up to a point where it is creating a lot of anxiety and fear and is effecting your performance and your happiness negatively, then think of losing your job, visualize how you will handle it, find solutions in your mind and then let go of the thought and the fear attached to it.
At the end, positive thinkers are better problem solvers and have better interactions. In addition to that, people who are positive thinkers are happier and more satisfied with their life.
Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD
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