How positive thinking can change your life. By Helen Wallace
Life seems made up of a series of emotional ups and downs – this is what creates the balance we need to enjoy and experience it to the full. Unfortunately, it is part of the human condition to experience feelings of inadequacy – to go through phases when we feel that we just aren’t good enough. The problem comes in, though, when these thoughts become persistent and you can’t shake that discouraging voice inside your head.
This is where the power of positive thinking can be truly life-changing. It’s been proven to have a profound effect on our overall well-being and, while it takes some practice, if mastered, it can have significant benefits for us, both mentally and physically.
Easier said than done?
It seems too simple, though, right? If it were as easy as just thinking about things that make you happy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it and reaping the benefits? ‘Most people dislike change, and our habits, whether good or bad, become our comfort zones, so we stay as we are,’ explains life coach Martin Gleeson. ‘Attitudes are no different, so if we’re used to having a negative attitude, we tend to keep it, because it feels safe and natural – we don’t even realise it.’ And, in fact, it is easier to shift your way of thinking than it may seem, it just takes practice and going back to basics. ‘It’s rather simple if we, well, keep things simple. Try not to overthink and analyse everything; be mindful and present in the moment and you will start to notice your life changing for the better.’
Mind over matter
The most pronounced benefit thinking positively could have on you is that it can improve your mental state, lifting your mood, enhancing your ability to concentrate and changing the ways that you relate to others for the better. Our psychological well-being plays a fundamental role in our overall health; wellness starts from within and your brain plays a crucial role. Anxiety can wreak havoc on our bodies, so learning to focus on the present and stopping negative self-talk can minimise or even eliminate many symptoms associated with it. One way to achieve this is to shift the focus off you and try to make a difference in others’ lives. ‘Make other people in your life smile – it will make you smile, too,’ suggests Martin. ‘It’s like a chain reaction.’
Body and soul
Life can be physically demanding, but a can-do attitude and willpower can help you achieve the things you never thought possible. ‘Being a competitive athlete, I have a pretty good idea of what it is to challenge your mind and body physically – it can only happen if your mind is already in a good place,’ explains Martin.
‘You need to remain focused and, most importantly, you’ll need to think positively – if you have even a little bit of negativity inside you, the chances of failing increase incrementally, stopping you from reaching your goals.’
Positivity has also been linked to the body being capable of healing itself faster and an increase in stamina. Who knew that our trains of thought could be so influential?
The mind is a powerful thing and the thoughts you allow to run through it can have more of an impact on you than you may realise, and it’s up to you to make your life experience a happy one. ‘Make the change to your attitude and witness the effect it will have, not only in your life, but in others’ lives as well,’ says Martin. ‘We all need to stop taking things for granted and embrace life – you only get one shot, so make the most of it.’
Do it yourself
Not sure how to keep those negative thoughts in check and to start homing in on the positive? Here are some tips to get you started on the road to a healthier, happier you:
Do some yoga or meditation
This can help you connect with yourself and help you to focus on the now rather than dwelling on things.
Take control of your life
Start living for yourself and really think about the choices you make and the effect they can have on your happiness.
Reach out and help others Whether it’s by volunteering with a charity or just being a shoulder to cry on, being there for other people can help take your mind off your own problems and give you perspective and a sense of purpose.
Sing your heart out
Singing is a proven mood-booster and de-stresser so, whether it’s behind closed doors or at a karaoke bar, belt out one of your favourite tunes for an instant lift.
Absorb positive info
Find things that inspire you and try applying them to your own life. Listen to a motivational talk, read a self-help book, or watch a feel-good movie with someone you love.
Monitor your thinking
If you feel a negative thought coming on, stop it in its tracks by replacing it with something more positive. It may take a while to get the hang of, but it just takes practice.