Thinking positively can have a profound effect on your mental and physical health. Research has shown that people who maintain optimistic views of the world tend to be happier, more grateful, and experience fewer stressors in their lives. In contrast, negative thinking can be debilitating. Negative thinking often stems from pessimistic beliefs about oneself or the world at large; however, these thoughts are usually learned rather than innate. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to train your brain towards a more positive outlook. Some of these tips take time and practice to grow accustomed to, but they all have the ability to make a lasting impact on your life. Read on for four strategies for training your brain for positive thinking.
Talk to yourself like you would your best friend
When you need to talk yourself out of negative thinking, it can be helpful to imagine yourself having a conversation with your best friend. What would you say to a good friend if they were going through a stressful time? What is your go-to advice for dealing with tough times? What would you say to yourself if you knew you needed the most loving and supportive words possible? What kind of messages do you think you need to hear in order to get through a tough time? Talking to yourself like you would a best friend can help you reframe negative thoughts into more compassionate and loving language. It may feel silly at first, but this strategy can have a profound impact on your mental health.
Keep a gratitude journal
Studies show that people who write down things they’re grateful for on a regular basis experience increased feelings of happiness and reduced stress. Additionally, gratitude has been shown to boost one’s sense of optimism, improve relationships with others, and even improve sleep quality. Why does writing down what you’re grateful for have such a profound effect? Writing gratitude journal entries engages a number of different areas of the brain, which is what makes this strategy so powerful. It engages areas of the brain responsible for memory, language, and sensory processing. What’s more, keeping a gratitude journal can help you train your brain for positive thinking by focusing on the positive aspects of your life. When you have a pen and paper in front of you, it’s easier to shift your focus to the things you’re grateful for rather than the problems you might be facing.
Meditate to reset
Like gratitude journaling, meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on one’s mental health. Meditation has been linked to improved focus and attention, reduced stress levels, and even positive changes in gene expression. The practice of meditation can help train your brain for positive thinking in a few different ways. First, when you meditate regularly, your brain undergoes changes in neuronal density. This means that certain areas of the brain are actually able to shrink, while other areas expand. Meditation has also been shown to change the connectivity between brain regions. When you regularly engage in meditation, you may notice that you’re better able to quiet your mind and resist the pull of negative thoughts. This can help you train your brain for positive thinking by improving your ability to “reboot” when you notice negative thoughts creeping in.
Practice exercise and self-care
Regular exercise has been shown to improve one’s mood, self-confidence, and energy levels. A growing number of studies have also begun to explore the link between exercise and positive thinking. Exercising regularly can help train your brain for positive thinking because it provides an outlet for stress. Exercising when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious can help you release negative emotions and endorphins. When you exercise, you can also practice positive self-talk. Rather than focusing on what your stressed-out brain is telling you, you can instead choose to focus on positive affirmations and a sense of accomplishment. This can help train your brain for positive thinking because it allows you to develop a new, healthy coping mechanism.
Negative thinking is something that many of us experience at some point in our lives. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to train your brain for positive thinking. When you notice yourself starting to slip into a negative thought pattern, you can use one of these strategies to help shift your focus and train your brain to think more positively.