The Power of Positive Thinking
How successful you are in life depends on how you use your mind.
How do you use yours?
Positive psychology is one of the most exciting things to emerge in the last century, in my opinion. ‘Traditional’ psychology historically focused on fixing ‘abnormal’ behaviour, mental illness and negative traits. Now the tides are shifting and research is now focusing instead on how we can develop what is right, rather than solely fixing what is wrong.
This can be quite a big shift in the way that you currently think, and I definitely know it was for me a few years ago. Something clicked into place when I started learning more about optimism and positivity. I realised that it was the missing piece in my puzzle, and ultimately has helped me more than anything else ever has.
Positive psychology research is backing it up too – people who have a happy, grateful and positive outlook have a longer life!
Our intentional activities account for 40% of our happiness, meaning that we can increase our wellbeing and happiness through the meaningful activities we set out to do in our lives. Only 10% of our happiness is down to our environmental circumstances (Lyumbomirsky’s The How of Happiness).
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” (Henry Ford)
What REALLY awoke me to the power of our minds was the realisation that our whole reality is made up of our thought and perception of the actual reality. Our thoughts are essential responsible for our life. If you spend your entire life choosing to see things in a negative light, you aren’t going to have the best experience! We do have a choice in how we perceive things.
Successful people believe in themselves. Take consistent efforts towards having 100% faith in yourself. My mantra of “I can do this, I am doing this” helps me do just that!
You may be sitting here thinking “it’s all very well Tali saying this – she runs her own business and gets to teach yoga for a living”. While I agree I am lucky (and worked damn hard) to get to where I am now, I have still been through a lot of trauma in my past. The only way that I was able to heal was through the realisation that I could see myself as a victim for ever, or shift my mindset towards happiness and compassion.
How did I do this?
One of the most powerful ways to feel more positive only takes a few moments every day! You might already be familiar with the concept of a gratitude practice, and it’s a really simple but effective habit to get into. Simply list 3 things you are grateful for in that day. I personally do this every evening before I go to bed, and it does wonders. I always go to sleep feeling grateful for my life and everything in it, even if I spent the day feeling a little stressed! There is a direct link between gratitude and happiness, so make this practice part of your day.
A 2002 study (Tennen and Affleck) found that when people are faced with challenges in life (such as adversity or traumas), if they are able to experience gratitude, they are able to be more resilient and push through the adversity or trauma.
Living in a negative story?
We all have experienced different lives, and as a result we all have different thought patterns and mental ‘stories’. In other words, any event that has happened in your past has the capacity to leave some kind of psychological imprint in your mind. I like to see these as stories.
Example: Say you were mugged as a teenager, and now you are a little fearful when you’re out on your own when it’s dark. Whether you realise it or not, you experience this fear because of a previous event in your life (the mugging). Maybe your fear story is that it’s dangerous to be out on your own, or that you are not able to protect yourself alone.
Our stories don’t have to be created by physical trauma – a hurtful comment can stay with us for our entire lives, whether they meant to cause harm or not.
It is only when we notice the connection between the past event and the present mindset that we are able to recognise that this fear no longer serves us. Then we can do the work to let the fear go and move on.
However, no matter how your sense of self worth may be right now, we all have positive qualities that we can bring to the world. But if we keep playing the negative stories in our mind, it is harder to see our strengths.
Turning your story into a learning experience
Changing our mindset can be hard, but it is the most rewarding journey you will ever take. I am a big believer in the Law of Attraction (our thoughts manifest our realities after all!), and this really helped me on this journey.
Ultimately, the questions we must ask ourselves are:
- What are our stories?
- Do our stories serve us?
- What have we learned from our stories? What is a more positive spin on the story?
- What would be a better, more positive story for us? Did you survive? Can you thrive? Can your experiences make you a stronger or more understanding person?
This is less about fixing ourselves, but more about choosing a positive mindset. It’s a work in progress, and there may be times when you forget to choose gratitude and optimism. However, come back to positivity every chance you get, and it will become your story.
How did this post land for you? I would love to hear. Let me know in the comments, or send me an email! I do a LOT of mindset work with my coaching clients, so let me know if you’d like more information.