Are you frustrated by your challenges in life?  Do you have frequent feelings of being overwhelmed?  This can become a self perpetuating negative outlook and can make it even harder for you to manage those challenges and move forward.

Practicing positive thinking allows you to focus on your strengths and accomplishments, and this goes a long way to increasing your happiness and motivation.  In turn, this can allow us to spend more time making progress, and less time feeling downright miserable and stuck.

Let's take a look at some practical suggestions that you could use to help you shift into more positive thinking patterns:

1. Take Good Care of Yourself –
It's much easier to be positive when you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest.

2. Remind Yourself of What You Are Grateful For –
I've mentioned this before in previous posts. Stresses and challenges don't seem quite as bad when you are constantly reminding yourself of the things that are right in your life. Taking just 60 seconds a day to stop and
appreciate the good things can make a huge difference in your life.

3. Look for the Proof Instead of Making Assumptions –
A fear of not being liked or accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking. But our fears are usually not reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member's bad mood is due to something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you when you turn your back, speak up and ask them. Don't waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have proof that there is something to worry about.

4. Try To Refrain from Using Absolutes –
Have you ever told a partner "You're ALWAYS late!" or complained to a friend "You NEVER call me!"? Thinking and speaking in absolutes like 'always' and 'never' makes the situation seem worse than it is, and programs your brain into believing that certain people are incapable of
delivering.

5. Detach Yourself From Negative Thoughts –
Your thoughts can't hold any power over you if you don't judge them. If you notice yourself having a negative thought, detach from it, witness it, and don't follow it. In fact, try to immediately replace it with a positive thought.

6. Squash the "ANTs" –
In his book "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life," Dr. Daniel Amen talks about "ANTs" – Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the bad thoughts that are usually reactionary, like "Those people are laughing, they must be talking about me," or "The boss wants to see me? It must be bad!" When you notice these thoughts, realize that they are nothing more than ANTs and squash them!

7. Practice Lovin', Touchin' & Squeezin' (Your Friends and Family) –
You don't have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, and even pets, is an instant pick-me-up. One research study on this subject had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks.  She received higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn't touch!  Human contact… there's nothing like it.

8. Increase Your Social Activity –
By increasing social activity, you decrease loneliness. I know it's sometimes a huge effort, but you owe it to yourself to be surrounded with healthy, happy people.  Their positive energy can't help but affect you in a positive way!  Got a friend who's always being negative? Move on and find a new friend.  Seriously!

9. Volunteer for an Organization, or Help Another Person –
Everyone feels good after helping. You can volunteer your time, your money, or your resources. The more positive energy you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return.

10. Use Pattern Interrupts to Combat Focusing On Negative Thoughts –
If you find yourself ruminating, a great way to stop it is to interrupt the pattern and force yourself to do something completely different.  Rumination is like hyper-focus on something negative. It's never
productive, because it's not rational or solution-oriented. It's just excessive worry. Try changing your physical environment – go for a walk or sit outside. You could also call a friend, pick up a book, or turn on some music.

It all comes down to a very simple way to live your life… keep turning negatives into positives. It takes practice.  Sometimes lots of it if you've been going through a negative patch.  But by the time it becomes something you do automatically, you won't recognize yourself or your life.  Is it worth a try?

All the best.
Christine R.

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