How to Become A Positive Thinker
I’m not going to feed you some bullsh*t about how if you wish upon a star and want it bad enough, it’ll magically manifest itself.
We are not in some Disney special and we’re definitely not about to go frog hunting to find a prince.
I mean if you want to, then by all means! But if you cannot find one, don’t sweat it. You won’t need one.
We got ourselves. And that is step one to becoming a positive thinker.
#1 YOU are all that you need.
Yes. You. Wonderful, beautiful YOU. You are all you need to become to a positive thinker.
I used to absolutely despise when people told me “Look on the positive side” and “It’s not all bad” because they made it sound so easy. So I took all my righteous pessimism and told them to shove it (in my mind that is).
Why was I pessimistic for so long? It always seemed perfectly logical to me to assume the worst about a situation then if it were to happen you wouldn’t be caught off guard and if it didn’t, then you would be pleasantly surprised.
But that was such a weird, backward way to look at things. I approached situations assuming the worst, preemptively disappointing myself and treated the happiness from being proved wrong like an fortunate accident.
After about two decades of being a negative, pessimistic person, one major life-changing event, and an ongoing sh*t storm of anxiety and depression later, I made a decision to change.
And that’s step 2.
#2 You must be open to changing.
Just like you cannot dry off your car in the rain, you cannot change if you are not open and willing to.
If we are content with the ways that things are going, have no curiosity to the alternative or have not even the slightest inkling to attempt another way of thinking or being—it will not happen. It cannot happen.
We have to be open to new ideas, many of which will contradict our own, and be certain that when confronted with this situation we will not disregard it as utter B.S.
#3 You gotta want it. You gotta want it bad.
We are naturally hard-wired with a negativity-bias. Our negativity-bias makes us more sensitive to negative stimuli than positive ones. This means that while a hundred things could go right in our day, it just takes that one experience that rubs us the wrong way to set us off into a negative tailspin.
Going against our natural inclination towards the negative and retraining our thought process is going to be damn hard. The way that we think about things has been with us since the beginning so changing a fundamental aspect of ourselves will challenge us in ways that you may have never thought possible.
It’s going to try to sabotage our efforts at positivity, puts seeds of doubt in everything we do, try to attack us at any opportunity—so you gotta really want it. You have to want to change so badly that you have the courage to silence those voices.
Are you up for the challenge?
#4 Open the dead ends.
My negative thought pattern would use everything it had to convince me that there was only one possible outcome (and it was the bad kind). This would leave me feeling cornered—heightening my sense of anxiety, dread, and fear.
So how do we tear down the walls that surround us?
Open the dead ends.
Instead of cornering ourselves, which can make us feel very powerless, we can open up alternative paths for us to take.
The more possible outcomes that we can come up with, the more paths open for us to take.
Let’s say that we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and we convince ourselves that today is just going to be sh*tty.
Dead-end option: Today is going to be sh*tty regardless of what I do.
Alternative path #1: I do not currently feel my best, but I can go and treat myself to something which could make me feel better.
Alternative path #2: I do not currently feel my best, but I could try to go back to sleep and see if that makes it better.
Alternative path #3: I do not currently feel my best, but I could spend time with a close friend and enjoy their company.
Alternative path #4: I do not currently feel my best, but I could go take a walk outside and see how I feel after.
Alternative path #5: I do not currently feel my best, but I could do a combination of my favorite things and make my day better.
If we do some fast math here, the probability of our dead-end option coming true is about 17%.
The probability that it does NOT is 83%.
By doing this practice we empower ourselves and logic our way out of the dead-end.
So yeah, it could turn out to be the worst outcome.
Or turn out to be one of the 5, 6...or 100 different outcomes.
The odds are with you.
When you find yourself going down that never-ending abyss of negativity, verbally tell yourself to “STOP.” Whether you throw in a physical action here like fulling stopping with your whole body (I do this), throwing your hands in the air, or doing a little dance—do whatever you need to do to silence your thoughts for a moment.
Another method is to keep a rubber band around one your wrists and when you feel yourself getting into a negative thought pattern, pull on the rubber band slightly to signal to your body to “snap” out of it. It brings us back into the present moment and serves as a physical reminder to stop the negativity.
After pausing, remind yourself that you want to change your current thought pattern. You do not want this negative pattern to continue. Remember that there are hundreds of alternatives to the outcome that your negativity bias was trying to convince you of. And most of all, that you have the power to change.
#6 Make it a part of your daily practice.
That’s right. Along with your breakfast (hopefully), coffee (maybe), going to the bathroom, and all your other happenings—integrate positive thinking into your daily life.
If we can make a habit out of positive thinking then it will not feel like such a forced action or out of the norm. In the beginning we have to do a lot of conscious refuting of the negative, telling ourselves constant reminders, and reinforcing positivity. As we make a habit out of positive thinking, it will slowly become natural for us to think of positive alternatives, stop our negative thought pattern, and silence the voices of doubt.
It takes about three months to integrate a new habit into your life, and while it could take even longer for positive thinking, it is possible.
Change cannot happen without action. Fundamental change cannot happen without daily practice.
#7 You are not perfect.
Do not expect that this change will happen overnight. You could have a great few weeks and then have a week of just utter negativity. Or a great few months and then sh*t happens and you find yourself backed into the negative corner.
Changing out negative habit of however many decades will not be easy. Our negativity bias without a doubt will not go down without a fight.
So please be kind to yourself.
As long as you keep trying to practice positive thinking, even if it’s just a smidge in your day, you’re doing a great job.
Negativity may be strong, but we’re stronger.