4-Step Formula for Positive Thinking

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Photo taken during my study abroad in Italy, one of the happiest times in my life. 


I start every morning with a single positive thought. Every. Morning. It sounds so cheesy it’s almost gross, but it helps get me out of bed at 6:00 in the morning when it’s pitch black out. It calms my mind before a busy day of work, and it give me energy to brace the cold that lingers just outside my warm bed.

No matter the day, I choose to think these thoughts because I am in control of my happiness. My external circumstances (the dark, my work, the cold) cannot affect my mood because that comes from within. This is how I take control of negative thoughts and greet every morning with optimism… it’s going to be great!

Acknowledge Your Negative Thoughts

Beating yourself up for thinking negatively will only make you feel worse. Instead, take notice of your anxiety, stress, anger, or other negative thought. Concentrate on the thought itself, without assigning a good or bad label to it: “I am obsessing about my thighs.” “I am annoyed at my sister.”

Give Yourself Advice

When you are feeling pessimistic, pretend it’s your friend who is feeling that way and give her some advice. Treat her with kindness and offer her reasonable solutions. “No, you do not look fat.” “Take your sister out for a drink and make-up already! She’s the best big sister ever!”

Question Your Negative Thoughts

While your harmful thoughts may seem justified, they are probably irrational. Challenge your negative thinking by asking questions like, “What events or circumstances led me to this thought?” “Does this thought stem from a feeling or a fact?” “Would Mom agree with this thought?”

Find Your Mantra

I like to come up with a new mantra every few weeks. I will write it down in my planner, say it to myself every morning, and remind myself of the mantra when I’m about to do something that would counter-act it. Some of my favorites are “I will be kind to myself” “I will love others unconditionally” and “I will make someone else happy today.” Compassion toward myself and others is something that I struggle with, and I find that when I practice these mantras I feel better about myself and my relationships with the people I love. If there is an aspect of your personality that is negatively affecting your thinking or your happiness, take steps to alter that character trait. Sometimes it’s as easy as a one-sentence phrase.

Let’s Review

Recognize your thoughts as real, but understand that they are irrational and immaterial forces that do not serve you. Treat yourself like your best friend, give her some sound advice, and make room for a happier, more positive mindset.

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As always, stopping to smell the roses never hurts!

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