While not everyone is born with a sunny disposition, it is possible to train your brain to see the brighter side of life.
By actively taking steps to think and act more positively, you will find that your outlook is rosier, and you should feel more content with the life you have while striving for the life you want.
Here are four effective strategies to help you foster a positive attitude.
Perfect Your Posture
Your posture tells others a lot about the way that you feel about yourself, but did you know that it also tells your mind how you feel about yourself too?
Many people are familiar with the mind-body connection and see how negative thinking can influence how you carry yourself.
But the way you stand and present yourself also has an effect on your mental state.
This is known as the body-mind connection. So, if you want to improve your mental state, then start by correcting your posture.
A study, which was published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that patients who suffer from mild to moderate depression benefited from sitting up straight as they reported feeling more alert and less anxious.
What’s more, another study found that sitting upright improves stress responses.
A randomized group was asked to take part in a reading task, and half of the participants were instructed to sit up straight while the other half were instructed to sit in a slouched position.
Unsurprisingly, those who were sitting upright displayed a better mood, higher levels of self-esteem, were more alert and performed better than their poor-postured counterparts.
Poor posture has been shown to negatively influence your mood, self-esteem, motivation, and can even affect how you respond to stressful situations.
So if you are slouching right now, why not try sitting up straight with your shoulders back.
Then by the time you finish this article, you might feel more alert and motivated already.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Whenever you start to berate yourself over some perceived inadequacy, ask yourself, is this thought fact or fiction?
Thoughts can be distorted.
Especially when the same ones go round and round in your head and if you are frequently telling yourself ‘I am not good enough’ ‘I’m worthless’ or ‘I am rubbish at everything’ you will come to believe it.
Instead, turn the statement into a question.
For instance, instead of telling yourself that you are not good enough, ask yourself: am I not good enough?
Then challenge the thought.
This interrogative self-talk will get you to question your negative thoughts a lot more and help you to recognize that there is no substance to them.
This technique is proven to be more effective than positive affirmations because you can tell yourself what you want to think hundreds of times, but if it goes against your core beliefs then it’s not going to change anything.
However, by elaborating on the reasons behind your negative thoughts, you get to challenge and change any deeply held negative beliefs.
Envision What You Want
Your imagination is powerful; it has the capacity to make you feel confident, happy and even perform better, which is one of reasons why athletes at the top of their game visualize themselves performing optimally.
And just like those world-class athletes, you can visualize your way to success.
Start by visualizing your best self.
How do you act?
What do you do differently?
What does a positive, confident you look like?
Try to make the visualization as vivid as possible, using all your senses. Then rehearse it over and over in your mind.
If you encounter some obstacles whilst doing this activity, rest assured.
The key is to recognize any hurdles which are preventing you from becoming the person you want to be.
Gabriele Oettingen, the author of Rethinking Positive Thinking, recommends using the WOOP strategy to achieve your goal.
This involves identifying your wish, the outcome you desire and any obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your goal.
Then you plan how to overcome any barriers that are preventing you from getting what you want.
Aim to do the visualization technique every day for three weeks.
The visualization technique combined with Oettingen’s WOOP strategy should make your goal more attainable, and the act of thinking positively frequently should improve your mood.
Create a Gratitude List
When was the last time you took a moment to think about the things in your life that you are truly grateful for?
If it’s been a while, and if like many of us you spend more time focusing on what you don’t already have, then now’s the time to implement the gratitude list.
Think about what you are truly thankful for in your life.
Aim to think of at least three reasons why you should be grateful; it doesn’t matter how small the reason.
What does matter is that you’re actively acknowledging what’s good in your life.
Then take a moment to feel the positive emotions that are associated with these thoughts.
Psychology professor, Robert Emmons has done extensive research into the benefits of gratitude and he has found that it can significantly change people’s lives for the better.
In his book Thanks he writes: ”Our groundbreaking research has shown that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism…”.
You see, when you feel joy and gratitude, you can’t feel negative emotions like fear and sadness at the same time, so the act of gratitude is helping to rewire your brain for the better.
This simple yet powerful tool can significantly increase your well being.
It’s been known to increase self-esteem and happiness, as well as improving relationships and aiding restorative sleep.
A positive mindset starts with a few simple changes, so set aside some ‘you time’ and implement these strategies into your daily routine.