How to Think Positively and Improve Your Life

How to Think Positively and Improve Your Life

Experts share their most effective tips to banish negative thoughts and be positive.

By: Lorraine Allen

Positive thinking is believed to increase happiness and improve lives. One recent study even shows that positive emotions like gratitude, interest, and love lead to resilience and lower levels of depression during and after intense crises. So how can we think positive and banish negative thoughts?

1. Be thankful: “One of the easiest yet most profound ways to think positively is to review all the things we are grateful for, such as our health, those we love, and who love us,” suggests Swami Sadashiva Tirtha, DSc, author of The Hip Guru's Guide. Take a few moments each day, alone or with your family, and think of things you are grateful for. You’ll gain peace, happiness, and strength.

2. Laugh: Humor is one of the best ways to brighten a dark mood and improve a hard day. Watch a funny movie, read some jokes, or tickle your kids. Remember to laugh every day, and don’t only focus on your stress.

3. Meditate: A recent study showed that people who meditate daily feel more positive emotions than those who don’t. Even after the experiment ended, the participants who meditated continued to feel a stronger sense of purpose in life, more social connectedness, and suffer fewer illnesses. Kathy Gruver, PhD, swears by mini meditations. “Concentrate on your breath, and on the inhale think, ‘I am,’ and on the exhale think, ‘at peace.’ And repeat. It stops the stress response, and keeps the negative away,” she says. Close your eyes, breathe, and relax. You’ll be happy you did!

4. Surround yourself with positive people. In the same way that people with a negative attitude can bring you down, supportive people who offer encouragement, think positively of you, and make you smile will make you think more positively about yourself and life, too.

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5. Focus on accomplishments instead of failures: “Focus on everything that you are doing, rather than dwelling on all of the things you're not,” suggests life coach Melanie Rudnick.

Jane Greer, MFT, a media commentator, offers similar advice: “To think positively, always look not at what didn't happen or didn't work out, but at what you learned from the experience,” she says.

6. Write: Researchers on a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality looked into the possible health benefits of writing down positive experiences. One test group of college students wrote about highly positive experiences every day, for just three days. The second group wrote about a control topic. Three months later, the students who had written about positive experiences were happier, had fewer visits to the health center, and fewer illnesses. Wow! Jot down something really positive each day, and share it with your families, too, for a serious short- and long-term health and happiness boost.

7. Practice positive self-talk: Stop your negative thoughts by switching them to be more positive, like this:


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Negative self-talk: I don’t know how to do this.

Positive twist: I can learn something new.

Negative self-talk: This is impossible.

Positive twist: I’m going to try to make this work.

What methods do you use to think positive thoughts?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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