When I first heard of positive thinking from a friend of mine, I thought, “That’s just another way of fooling yourself. Optimism is overrated.” What I was actually doing is called negative thinking (i.e. getting consumed by negative thoughts and feelings).
Little did I know at that time that positive thinking was going to make me the happiest I have ever felt in my life. So how did it all start?
I always felt intrigued by interesting titles on posters around our campus and in town (advertising victim, huh?). Not letting go of that habit, one day I attended a lecture of a guest speaker at my university. The lecture was entitled: “One thing you need to know in order to be happy”. I thought I knew everything about happiness, but apparently I was wrong because I was missing out on the most important component of happiness – positive thinking.
What is positive thinking?
Positive thinking is all about having positive thoughts and attitudes towards whatever happens in our life. Positive thinkers look at the bright side of every problem in order to achieve good health, success and, eventually, happiness.
The paradigm shift in my way of thinking has not been an easy task to do, but once I switched to positive thinking (it is a long process, so be patient!) I realized that all of the bad experiences in my life were brought about not by what happens, but by how I react to what happens.. Once I accepted that, it became easy to be the driving force of my own happiness. How did I do it?
- Identify your negative thoughts – transform them into positive ones
The first thing that helped me switch to positive thinking was actually recognizing my negative thoughts. Whenever I caught myself thinking negatively, I would immediately try to create a positive spin. Use the following tips to do so:
- Positive visualization: try to imagine that situation in a positive light; concentrate on what you can do instead of what you cannot. Do not limit yourself to imagining it – grab a piece of paper and a pen, write your thoughts down, visualize them. When positive visualization is followed by materialization, it gives you more power to view yourself as a person who can make that change happen.
- Positive affirmations: using positive statements conditions and nourishes the mind to adopt positive thoughts. Instead of saying, “It is too intricate” try, “I will use a different approach this time”; or instead of saying, “It will never work” you can say, “I will try to make it work.” Do this exercise a couple of times and you will immediately feel the difference.
- Positive people, events and places: it is no secret that people and events that surround us have a direct impact on our mood. Associate yourself with positive people, constructive events and optimistic places – they will help you give a boost to your positive thoughts.
- Know your strengths and learn to use them
The awareness of one’s own strengths constitutes a huge part of what positive thinking is about. I knew some of my personality traits and talents but I had a hard time answering the question “What are your top 5 strengths?” It appears that a lot of people are experiencing the same difficulty. I followed these simple steps I found online to discover my own strengths:
- Strengths tests: there are thousands of personality tests and strengths assessments online. I personally like HIGH5, a strengths finder that identified my top 5 strengths and helped me become more self-aware. Once I knew what my strengths were, I became more confident in myself and my abilities.
- Asking friends and colleagues for feedback: what positively influenced my self-esteem was asking my friends and colleagues what my strengths were, according to them. When you do so, try to keep an open mind and accept their feedback. Utilizing both positive and critical thinking is key to finding lasting happiness.
- Practice your strengths: once I found my strengths I started “owning” them by applying my strengths in practice. Choose the activities where your strengths can be in action both in your professional and personal life – it makes you more satisfied and happy with whatever you are doing.
- Forget about your “comfort zone”
The real change happened when I said goodbye to my comfort zone that was associated with my old habits. By staying in my comfort zone I thought I was staying true to myself, but I was only missing out on my own true happiness. I trained my mind to believe that my actions and my thoughts condition my happiness, so now I can only blame myself if something goes wrong.
Switching to positive thinking was a slow but a very rewarding experience. The most important lesson I learned was that I am a master of my own happiness, and that happiness is directly linked to positive thinking. As they say, “Positive minds are powerful minds.” So today I am a more self-aware person and I know that by simply changing my thoughts and my attitude, I can change my life the way I want. Is there a bigger happiness than this?
If you want to know more about building on your confidence, take a look at this article about strength-based confidence building.
About the author: Anatoli Chernyaev strongly believes that strength-based approach is fundamental to achieving happiness. Content marketing manager born in Armenia and currently residing in France, he writes about self-awareness, positive thinking, and personal development.