Banishing negativity from your life: the power of positive thinking and how it can dramatically improve your day-to-day happiness.
Glass half empty or half full? Pessimist or optimist? We may have been conditioned to think the world is made up of pessimists or optimists, but the truth is, we can all discover the secret of optimism.
But why should you? Surely human beings are hard-wired from our earliest days in caves to prepare for the worst, mentally and physically, so that when the mammoth comes charging around the corner our minds have expected the worst to happen and we will be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones?
Because, when we experience negativity, this is what we are really doing. We are preparing ourselves for the worst that could happen, so that when it does - or preferably, when it doesn't - the reality is never be as bad as our imaginations would have had us believe.
"I'm not pessimistic, I'm just a realist" we might say.
But the trouble is that if we are preparing, all the time, for the worst that could happen, then we allow negativity to take over our thoughts. And when that starts to happen, our negative thoughts are no longer contained within our own minds but start to affect what we say and do, and this starts to spill over to those around us. We are scared about what could happen if we buy our child a bike, so we don't. What if we climbed the mountain outside our window but an unexpected blizzard blew over and started an avalanche? We become fearful, fearing risks around every corner. Our horizons become limited. We get depressed and angry. We start to push away those who love us.
So, if that's the power that negativity can bring to our lives, consider the inverse; the power of positive thinking. If a pessimist's thoughts are crowded with dark clouds, imagine the light that will start to flow in once the optimist that is in all of us is allowed the chance to breathe.
But how can we do it? How can we undo our natural inclination to 'be prepared' for the worst in every situation? Surely this is a prop that many of us absolutely depend on to get through the day?
One of the answers lies in what we at My Internal World term 're-framing'. This is where we take a situation and, rather than automatically drawing the possible negatives from it, we try to look at all the benefits and focus on those.
Consider that caveman again, the one fearing the woolly mammoth. He may think, "a mammoth may come along and rampage over my family, none of us must ever leave this cave."
However, he could think, "a mammoth may come and rampage over my family. I will think about what tools we can equip ourselves with in order to fight the mammoth. This will have the advantage that I will gain new knowledge, new tools, and if we get really lucky, we may be able to eat him too!"
Fast forward several thousand years to the present day. A sadly all-too-common phenomenon in today's society is that of being made redundant from our job. Shifting markets, politics and ever-evolving technology have all combined to make today's world far more exciting than it was before, but far less settled for many people, too.
The shock of being made redundant certainly has disadvantages; an uncertain future being the main one. But thinking negatively about this situation is not going to alter it. Looking for the positives could include the ability to follow a dream or a passion you've never had the time to make a reality, or spending a bit of time with your family, or using your redundancy pay-out to re-train in a new career. Of course, these are simplistic answers to a complex issue. But the main point is, positive thinking really can make a difference.
And then, there's those around you too. Thinking positively and actually focusing on 'being happy' will mean those around you will feel warm in your presence, and it's in this way you can let love and light into your life.
So what's the secret? The truth is, there is no secret. The ability to being optimistic actually often requires a surprising amount of hard work.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you on your way.
- When you next catch yourself thinking negatively, give yourself a time limit for the pessimistic thoughts, then make yourself look for the positives.
- Smile! Those muscles need a workout!
- Write down your pessimistic thoughts in a diary or notebook. Read them, and leave them there for the day.
- Be kind to your loved ones. They deserve it.
If you would like to be able to self assess, raise your own awareness and develop yourself in this area and more, why not join us in My Internal World.