My previous post, titled How to Become a Positive Thinker, has apparently struck a chord with people. It has quickly become one of my most popular posts and I have received quite a few emails from those who have already seen significant changes in their lives after applying the technique provided. I am thrilled to hear people are receiving such immediate and dramatic benefit.
I wrote the previous post after realizing that everything I found online was very impractical and essentially empty commands (ie: meditate more, take responsibility, be grateful, learn to forgive, stop overthinking, etc). While these are terrific goals to strive for, most of what I found offered very little in how to actually go about applying it. My goal was to provide a simple and effective how-to so that people could begin to immediately see change and become more positive.
I have also received requests for more ways to think positive. The purpose of this post is to provide additional help in training your mind to automatically default into positive thinking. Below are some further actions you can take to achieve this.
Minimize or Eliminate News
I know I am going to receive emails from people telling me that, “It’s important to know what’s going on in the world! How could you say such a thing?” Yes, it is important to know what is happening in the world and it is very important to study human behavior and to be aware. However, it is pointless and exhausting to try to be informed about everything that is happening and to try to constantly keep up. Our brains constantly filter tons of information and discard or ignore the vast majority of it. Only that which is of true importance do our brains bring to our attention. If our brains didn’t do this, we would be paralyzed with too much information and shut down. That is exactly what happens with many people who obsess over “keeping up with world events.”
Constantly bombarding your mind with the news (especially when it is full of fear and sensationalism) is a sure way to overwhelm your mind and exhaust you. Your attention is valuable and limited and you must carefully choose which information you will pay attention to. I am not saying you should never watch the news, but you should be very selective about what you give your attention to.
A while back I decided to go one week without any news. I completely avoided all news for seven days. I was amazed by the immediate changes I noticed. I realized that I had been very caught up in the fear and anxiety that is perpetuated in the news. Within days, I noticed I was calmer, more patient and more relaxed. I also realized I could focus better because I was less distracted by so much information vying for my attention. I also found that I had more time. I have since dramatically cut the amount of news I pay attention to.
So, you might ask, “Ok, that’s great Richard, but how do you know what’s going on in the world?” Simple: people tell me. When something is really important, I will hear about it one way or the other. I have found that I do not miss out on much and when someone does tell me something I can get the most important details, rather than an flood of information.
It is a noble idea to wish to know about everything that is happening everywhere, but I also know I only have so much attention and much of it I would rather give to other pursuits (like writing this blog, helping people achieve their goals and to my own self-development).
Go ahead, give it a try. Just 7 days with absolutely no news. Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine. In fact, you’ll probably love it.
Practice Positivity at the Right Times
Ideally we try to be positive at all times, but that is not possible, nor is it necessary. If you can focus your mind on positive thoughts at certain times of the day, it will have a greater impact on your ability to think positive and will kepp you automatically focused on being positive throughout the day. Specifically, the times that will bring about lasting change are immediately upon waking and as we lay down to sleep at night. Here is a simple practice which will have a dramatic affect.
The moment you wake up in the morning, say the the following (affirmation of a female zen master) 3-4 times:
“Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”
At first you might forget to say this upon waking. No matter, just say it when you remember, but try again and again to say this immediately upon waking. If you practice this, soon it will become a habit. Because I have trained my brain to do this, I automatically have this thought upon waking. I even have it in the middle of the night when I wake up briefly. This gives me a deep feeling of gratitude and nothing is more effective at making you feel good than feeling grateful.
Important: Do not simply think this. Say it out loud. You will feel it much more and it will have much more of an effect.
At the end of the day, when you lay down, you can say the above sentence or direct your thoughts to anything positive. In the previous post, I provided some questions to help you to think postive.
This may seem silly or obvious, but smile more! 🙂
We know that the mind affects the body, but so too does the body affect the mind. Reasearch shows that you can use your body to change your thoughts and emotions. But you don’t need to read the research to realize that your body can immediately change your state of mind. A simple exercise will prove this beyond any doubt.
Try this: 1) stand up nice and straight, 2) put your hands on your hips and 3) smile the biggest, most exaggerated smile you can muster and 4) hold it for a while, maybe 15 seconds or so. Then, 5) without letting your smile retreat even one millimeter, try to think negative thoughts. You will find that it is nearly impossible to think negatively while maintaining your big smile. The only way your brain can create negative thoughts is to force you to stop smiling. If you keep your enormous smile, negative thoughts cannot enter your mind.
We have been blessed with this simple control switch to activate positive thoughts in our minds. Smiling actually will change your brain chemistry and how you feel. The more you smile, the better you feel. Very simple. Look at the faces of the elderly and you will see what type of thoughts dominated their lives. The wrinkles on their faces tell the story of their lives. Who cannot see them? Positive thoughts will make you smile and smiling will make you think positive (just as frowning will give you negative thoughts).
So, smile at people you pass on the street. Smile at the cashier and when you hold the door open for someone. It’ll make both of you feel better. It is so easy, there is no reason not to smile more! Fill your day with smiles and you will fill your life with joy.
If you have other ways to help train your mind to think positive, please leave a comment and share.