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How to Think Positive: Positive Thinking Exercises and Tips

Not sure how to think positive? Try our positive thinking exercises and tips to help get your mind back on track.

We all want to learn how to think positive. However, in the wake of mental health difficulties, everyday challenges and exposure to bad news, positive thinking can feel impossible ("How to Focus on the Positive When Your Mental Health is a Mess"). Positive thinking exercises can be beneficial in enhancing our self-confidence and helping to banish negativity. Here, you will find positive thinking exercises and tips to help you learn how to think positive.

How to Think Positive: Positive Thinking Exercises

Do you have constant, recurring negative thoughts? Many of our thoughts and behaviors feel automatic, but they are actually thought patterns your brain has learned over time. The good news is, just like negativity, positivity quickly becomes a cycle. What’s more, positive thinking actually creates new neurons and pathways in your brain. Here are some positivity exercises and tips to help you get started.

  • Write a list of all the times when life did work out; when everything went exactly as planned. Meditate on these thoughts for a few minutes.
  • Balance your negative thoughts with positive ones. Each time a negative thought enters your brain, challenge yourself to come up with something positive to counteract it.
  • Make a list of all the negative patterns you are willing to abstain from. This list might include watching distressing news programs, interacting with negative comments on social media, associating with negative people or overfilling your schedule. When you have completed your list, try changing one behavior at a time, and give yourself a specified time period (minimum one week). Once the time period is up, see if you notice any changes in your thought patterns.
  • Plan an alternative to negativity. Negative thoughts are bound to pop up occasionally, so plan an activity to distract yourself if and when they strike. Journal about your feelings in a diary, call a friend, go for a walk, complete 10 minutes of yoga, or listen to relaxing music ("How to Create and Keep a Positive Mindset Despite Mental Illness").

More Positive Thinking Tips

Need more tips for positive thinking? Next time you feel negative or unmotivated, try one of the following positive thinking activities.

  • Forget the fruit; sow the seed: What can you do today to work on your mental health? When you’re depressed, you may feel demotivated to go to the gym or spend time with friends, even though you know doing these things may make you feel better in the long-run. Sometimes, however, it’s just too much. For now, focus on sowing tiny seeds toward your future happiness. Instead of simply hoping that your situation will change, you will feel confident knowing that you have sown the seeds of positivity.
  • Try a digital detox: Take some time away from social media, be it a few hours, a day, or a week. Social media can be inspiring, but it can also have the opposite effect. Next time you’re caught up in someone’s social media feed, observe the reaction in your body: how does it make you feel? Do you feel pent up and anxious or creative and inspired? If it’s the former, you may need to limit your screen time or rethink who you follow ("Positive News: How It Affects You and Where to Find It").
  • Distract yourself: When was the last time you truly got last in a task? According to Calm founder Michael Acton-Smith, “The right sort of work can help to nurture and feed your sense of calm, because when you’re engaged in something you are good at, you enter a state that psychologists call ‘flow.’”
  • Spend time in nature: In both his bestselling memoirs, Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet, the writer Matt Haig explores the idea that the prevalence in mental illness is partly a reaction to our lives evolving faster than our brains. In the age of social media and laptop entrepreneurs, it’s easy to forget that we evolved in the natural world and that all this time spent indoors staring at screens probably isn’t good for us. Next time you feel negative or stressed, go for a simple walk, preferably somewhere green, and see how it lifts your mood.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
William Shakespeare.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2018, December 11). How to Think Positive: Positive Thinking Exercises and Tips, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/positivity/how-to-think-positive-positive-thinking-exercises-and-tips

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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