Positive thinking is powerful. Science has found strong links between the power of positive thoughts with better health, a longer life, and overall greater well-being. In opposition, we can see the result of chronic worry and anger as a lead into the development of body expressions as powerful and fearful as heart disease.
Our thoughts do matter. Our self-talk certainly matters. And if we can help ourselves to develop more positive thinking, we are truly helping more than just our thought patterns-we are affecting our overall health.
For some of us being happy comes naturally and easily, while others need to work at it. So how does one go about becoming more positive, “happier”? That is the focus of Positive Psychology. This somewhat new, no exploding psychology term, explores how people and institutions can support the quest for an increase in meaning and satisfaction. Researches have discovered several proven routes to happiness.
Pursue goals and activities that engage you fully. You know the feeling. Time is quite literally forgotten. You are so engrossed in a project or activity or book even-find what that is for you and engage in that momentum as frequently as possible. When we allow our minds to expand and create in that space we are tickling points in our brain that release happiness hormones-live here as much as possible.
Search for meaning outside of yourself. Helping others, volunteering, community gardening, get involved with others or something outside yourself that needs aid. If you’re not a “people person” you can find meaning helping out at animal shelters or volunteering in gardens or construction projects.
Seek out pleasure through your emotions and sensations. Explore and welcome even the smallest moments of feeling good; a breeze on your face, a good stretch, the way a friend or pet makes you feel when you see them. Become aware of these moments. Within that awareness comes a sense of peace and pleasure.
Express an appreciation for what you have in your life. Much like taking a moment to “feel good” in our bodies and our minds, expressing gratitude for what we have and experience is a way to bring in more light and happiness. Some methods for facilitating more gratitude; write in a gratitude journal, meditate on what you love in your life, upon waking think of three things you are grateful-being a person, thing, or feeling.
Focus your att
ention on what is happening at the moment and accept it without judgement. Being mindful is certainly a practice, but it allows us to relax into what is at present. It doesn’t lend us the opportunity to worry about what is past or become anxious about what is to come. Living more presently, mindfully can facilitate that happiness of contentment for what is.
Place your attention of pleasure as it occurs and consciously enjoy that experience as it happens. For example, a deep breath of fresh air. Become fully aware of the sounds, colors, light, smells around you-feel the air coming in through your nose, filling the space of your throat, lungs, belly, flooding oxygen through your body awakening cells, cleansing, refreshing, and then exhale that air out of the belly, out of the lungs, chest, throat, back through the nose-you are emptied, cleansed, refreshed. Live in that simple, savored pleasure.
So key! Console yourself when needed, take time to nurture yourself, and build the motivation to try again. I have always found this to be difficult, but a method I use that helps immensely is imagine yourself as your child self. As an adult you can now protect her, nurture her, comfort and encourage her. You do not need the outside approval of people or societal rank-everything you need is in you. Rely on that adult and nurture that child. Give yourself what you need and tune into what that truly is.
I hope these ideas give you some power to create more positivity within yourself and in your life. Let me know if you find any methods more or less useful!