New year, new mindset: Think, be, and live positive

The process of changing your loop takes consistency in recognizing negative thoughts and choosing to replace them with positive ones

A new year is upon us. No matter what you hope to accomplish this year, maintaining a positive attitude is sure to help you along the way. Photo ©BigStockPhoto.com
A new year is upon us. No matter what you hope to accomplish this year, maintaining a positive attitude is sure to help you along the way.

It’s a new year and with it comes the expectation personal improvements or changes can be made, such as exercise more, spend less, or eat better. While those are all great ways to become healthier physically and better financially, what about your mental health and well-being? What about mindset growth and change? Are those something you have ever considered changing or learning more about? Have you heard about the benefits of positive thinking?

Wait. What is this mindset you speak of? Do you mean the way my brain thinks about things, events, situations, experiences, and so on? Yes, a person’s usual attitude or mental state is their mindset, as defined as, “a mental attitude or inclination.” When faced with a stressful situation, is your response reactive or responsive? Reacting is considered emotional, while responding is considered emotional intelligence.

You have probably heard the expression, “negativity breeds negativity.” This also works on positivity and positive thinking. Have you ever met someone who never seems to find anything positive in their life? Their energy and mindset exude negativity. Every experience they have is remembered and retold through a negative lens.

Then, of course, we all know those people who are “the cup is half full.” These are the ones no matter what life throws at them, they bounce back, keep a positive outlook, and show resiliency time and time again.

Whichever attitude you feed, be it negative or positive, is the one that will grow. I like to say, “You grow what you feed.” Think about that for a minute.

Why change, develop, or adjust your attitude and grow your mindset? When we do an honest self-analysis, we become more aware of why we do what we do and why we think the way we do. We open ourselves to the possibility of changing our paradigm, adjusting our mindset, and improving our lives. There are numerous benefits to positive thinking and optimistic attitudes.

Positivity is at the center of positive psychology. Positive thinking does not mean ignoring reality; it means approaching the good and bad in life in a more positive, productive way with the expectation everything will turn out well. Optimism says change is possible, and negative experiences and failures are temporary.

While we all have situations and circumstances in our lives that are stressful or life changing, the optimistic person will objectively assess what happened and make a mental choice to expect things will improve. The negative person may personalize and blame themselves as the cause of an external event. A negative thinking person may use the word “never” and “always” to describe their worthiness. “I never get considered for a promotion” or
“I always get blamed for this.”

Habitual negative thoughts create patterns of physical traits in your brain through the process of neuroplasticity. These patterns become the default pathways for your neurons and thinking. This goes back to the notion of “negativity breeds negativity.” Further, these negative patterns of thoughts can lead to more stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation.

Change your feedback loop, change your life. The power to change your thoughts is within you. Take back control of your thought patterns and change your loop from one of helplessness to one of hopefulness. Create new patterns that will become the pathways of your thinking.

Tips to improve positivity

Become aware of your thought pattern. Mindfulness is one way to become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions as they are happening. We all have random thoughts pop up in our heads every day. When we allow ourselves to pause before we react and instead choose how we respond, this is the practice of mindfulness.

Objectively analyze your thoughts and beliefs. Assess your reaction to situations. This one may be a little difficult because it requires stepping out and away from the emotion. Three parts make up emotions:

1) Subjective experiences, also known as the stimulus.

2) Physiological response, also known as the “fight or flight” response.

3) Behavioral response or expression of the emotion. Were you reactive or responsive and why? Give yourself permission to look at different points of view. Control your mind through intentional guidance.

Ask yourself if the thoughts you are having are helpful or hurtful to you. If the answer is “it’s hurtful,” consciously decide to change the thought to one more helpful, understanding, or positive. Affirmative thoughts increase serotonin, the hormone stabilizing our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Serotonin helps regulate anxiety and stress. There is power in thoughts, we have the ability within us to create health-benefiting changes within our bodies. It is an amazing power!

How to think positive

Attitudes and thoughts do not change overnight. Remember: the brain develops patterns, and patterns take time to create pathways. The process of changing your loop takes consistency in recognizing negative thoughts and choosing to replace them with positive ones.

With patience and practice, your self-talk will be less self-critical and more self-acceptance. You may also notice you are less critical of the world and people around you.

Here are some tips to remember when manifesting and developing positivity:

  • Use positive, possible words with both your inner thoughts and your outer words.
  • Imagine there will be a good outcome to the situation.
  • Read more about positivity and the benefits of positive thinking.
  • Change your mind set by repeating affirmations.
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings with an “attitude of gratitude” perspective.
  • Replace “I have to” with “I get to.”
  • Turn failures into a learning opportunity.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Exercise 30 minutes on most days.
  • Focus on your strengths.

Live positive

Thinking positive leads to living positively. The benefits of positive thinking cannot be ignored or discounted. Some of the physical as well as mental benefits are:

Physical benefits:

  • Longer life span
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better pain tolerance
  • Lower chance of heart attack
  • Better stress management
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better coping skills during stressful events/situations

Mental benefits:

  • Increased creativity
  • Less depression
  • Clearer thinking
  • Better mood

Using the power of positive thinking as a tool to create a life-long positive attitude is not only a mental and physical benefit for you but also to all those in your life. A happier, self-confident you can become a positive point of light for others. As we begin this new year, consider the changes you can create in your life by committing yourself to a positive way of thinking.

Linda Miller, BS, CCFP, has more than 20 years of business experience. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in business management, as well as degrees in psychology, interdisciplinary studies, and business administration. As co-owner of Dog Days Consulting, she manages clients’ social media accounts. Miller is a certified compassion fatigue professional and a certified master life coach. Her passion lies in teaching skills and providing staff with the necessary tools to help them sustain a long enjoyable career in the veterinary industry. 

References

Ackerman, C. E. (2020, October 13). What is Positive Mindset: 89 Ways to Achieve a Positive Mental Attitude. Retrieved from PositivePsychology.com: https://positivepsychology.com/positive-mindset/

WebMD Medical Reference. (2020, January 16). webmd.com. Retrieved from What is Positive Thinking?: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/positive-thinking-overview

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