A client said to me recently that she thought her mind was too skilled at thinking negatively and that she wasn’t sure if she could get it to succumb to positive change. My response was, “Yet positive things keep happening to you so maybe you’re just focusing on the wrong things.”
Here’s the deal, it’s possible to have both negative and positive feelings going on at the same time and one doesn’t cancel the other out. Imagine you just experienced a loss which made you really sad and right around the same time you found out that you were going to be honored at an awards ceremony for the great work you’ve done in your industry and hearing this news makes you really excited. Both of those emotions are true and valid. So, now what.
Well, Gandhi said, “A man is but the product of his thoughts.What he thinks, he becomes.” Who is going to argue with Gandhi, am I right? But seriously emotions love themselves. It’s as simple as, if you focus on positive thoughts you’ll have more positive thoughts. It is human nature that the negative thought-making part of our brain is really strong; in order to make sure a bear or a tiger doesn’t eat us. So, we’ve got work extra hard to strengthen the positive thought-making part of our brain.
Here are some ideas on how to strengthen that part of your brain:
- Write down 5 things that went well for you yesterday
- Write down 10 of your past successes
- Thank different parts of your body (even the parts that you don’t have the most loving relationship all the time)
- Smell some flowers, perfume, cut grass, ocean air
- Set a timer for 2 mins and remember a positive memory from your life
- Listen to the sounds of nature (wind in the trees, birds chirping, a river flowing)
- Put on a song that makes you feel like a badass and sing at the top of your lungs
- Watch animals play (live or on a video)
- Play with a baby or toddler
- Eat some chocolate or a piece of fruit really slowly so you can fully taste it
- Do something with your hands (build something, make art, cook)
- Change your “should” sentences to "I want to (blank) because (blank)"
That was me just riffing for a few mins. I just sat quietly and thought about what might feel good right now. You literally can’t get this wrong.
I don’t want you to be under the impression that I’m saying you will be able to make negative thoughts go away forever. Life happens and sometimes things are gonna suck. I do, however, want you to create a robust list of things, you know work for you, that you can focus on and/or do to shift your attention and remind you that there is positivity in your life too.
I’d love to hear what you’re going to do today to strengthen that positive thinking part of your brain. Feel free to do something from the list or add something new and then write it in the comments below.
By sharing your ideas, you just may inspire someone else to do something they didn’t think possible.