How often have you felt depressed, anxious, and/or stressed, and when sharing your feelings, someone says,“Think positive!” It can seem pretty frustrating to hear and often triggers some sarcastic response along the lines of, “Wonderful, why didn’t I think of that?” But positive thinking can be a practice, something you come to over and over again until it becomes a part of you. Once you’ve figured out how to harness your thoughts you’ll see how much easier it is to release anxiety and stress.
Harness Your Thoughts for Improved Positive Thinking
Here are our best tips for harnessing your thoughts and making the practice of positivity second nature.
Writing It Down Makes It Real
There is something special and empowering about the physicality of writing. Writing down your dreams, intentions, affirmations, and gratitude can have an extremely positive effect on your mental health.
A lot of people have kept journals in their life at some point, whether in a diary as a kid or in adulthood as a cathartic release, but making it a real habit can be hard. In The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, the concept of “morning pages” is introduced. Cameron recommends starting each day with three full pages of journaling. She describes how this practice helps to clear the mind and unlock creativity. Developing a routine creative practice like this can be difficult at first, but she recommends writing whatever comes to mind without any judgment or reservation to make it feel more approachable.
Other forms of journaling can be extremely helpful for improving positive thoughts, leading to even more positive thinking.
The Power of Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude journaling is an extremely powerful practice. UCDavis Health reports that patients who kept a gratitude journal for two weeks saw a 28% reduction in perceived stress and a 16% reduction in depression.
Gratitude journaling can be a quick five minute ritual—simply writing down three things each day that you’re grateful for. They can be silly, obvious, or surprising.
- Maybe you’re grateful your cat sat in your lap and purred.
- Perhaps you saw a beautiful flower.
- Possibly your favorite TV show has a new episode.
Moments of gratitude don’t have to be grandiose.
When you engage in a practice of journaling or gratitude journaling you connect with yourself and your mind. Daily reflection and gratitude can have a massive positive impact on your life. Putting pen to paper helps you make sense of your world and emotions.
Neuro Linguistic Programming & Training Your Brain and Body
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a therapeutic practice that utilizes the nervous system to connect to your emotional brain. This practice involves a series of exercises that allow the individual to anchor themselves to positive thoughts (and leave the negative thoughts behind).
For example, a therapist may guide you in a belief-changing exercise. When a negative thought pops up, you’ll learn to cultivate a positive one to counter and challenge the negative pattern right away. Often, our negative thoughts follow patterns and can be predictable. Being ready with a challenge can make that negative pattern seem smaller and smaller–until it is gone for good.
NLP can be practiced in conjecture with other therapies and techniques to achieve greater results and reach life goals.
Little Actions Lead To Big Results
Harnessing your thoughts can be achieved through many small building blocks. Little habits that you sprinkle into your day can have big results.
These habits can include:
1. Making your bed every day
2. Practicing gratitude
5. Taking the time to meal prep
6. Spending time with friends and family
7. Being outside in nature
Everyone’s little habits will look different. If it’s helpful, think of them as little rituals. Making your coffee in the morning can be imbued with intention. Washing your face and brushing your teeth can both be thought of as acts of self-love rather than meaningless rote. We all do little things everyday that keep us upright and moving: eating can be nourishing yourself, dressing warmly as self-preservation, and showering as a loving act of cleaning.
You’re still reading this, which means you want positive change, and you aren’t giving up! Pick one small habit to fold into your daily schedule with intention. Then, pick another for the next week to build on that. With slow and steady practice you can inject new positive thought patterns and habits into your life.
Change can be scary, and can feel isolating. But if you’re on this page you’ve at least made the first steps. Let this inspire you to take the next ones!
About the Writer: Aaron Smith is an LA-based content strategist and consultant in support of STEM firms and medical practices. He covers industry developments and helps companies connect with clients. In his free time, Aaron enjoys swimming, swing dancing, and sci-fi novels.
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