Happiness is not a dream. It is a conscious decision. In this world where we find ourselves, it can be hard to stay positive at all times. Loretta Breuning, author of The Science of Positivity and Habits of a Happy Brain, said “The brain is not structured to create happiness. It is designed to promote survival.” When the brain thinks negatively, it affects our creativity, disposition and productivity. Negativity has a bigger impact on our well-being than positive thinking.
Positive thinking is a choice. It is a decision to always stay happy and optimistic regardless of the situation. It is a decision we must make every day. When we start our day we are faced with a choice – either to be happy or sad.
Being positive depends on many different things going on in our lives: the kind of people we allow into our personal space, the movies we watch, the songs we listen to and the books we read. Even though we can’t control everything happening around us, we can control one thing -our response. We can control whether to focus on negativity or choose to stay optimistic and calm.
With all the negativity in the world, there is still some good news. The following are unique and effective ways to rewire your brain to be positive:
1. Be Nice to Yourself
Most people give themselves less credit than they deserve. Be your own cheerleader. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t be your own worst critic. Some people look down on themselves and say negative things which they wouldn’t utter to anyone else because they would be too hurtful. Why would you now say those things to yourself?
Do you know that self-love is one of the most significant ways to stay positive? Every morning, I look into the mirror and say to myself: “I love you.” “I am proud of you.” “I am beautiful.” You can practice this, too. Be nice to yourself and show some love.
2. Observe Your Thoughts
Since we are all wired differently, we all have different habits. It is easy to notice some negative thoughts creeping into your mind. Are you bothered by someone? Stressed out at work? Once you determine the negative thoughts disturbing you the most, you can start looking for ways to overcome them.
I was once bothered about a classmate because of her toxic behavior towards me. I discussed it with our teacher and we started working on the things that concerned me most about her.
3. Challenge Negative Thoughts
Things happen and we are likely to get pissed. It is the way we respond to it that matters the most. Sometimes we connect odd interpretations to the actions of others. Our brain is structured to attach more significance to negative things. Negativity can be a habit that has existed for a long time and is now difficult to change or eliminate. Negative feelings follow pessimistic thoughts. Take time to think about how you are feeling. Ask questions about the situations. This can help you get rid of your fear and anxiety.
A new colleague at work once yelled at me. I caught myself thinking that he does not like me. I was angry and wanted to talk back to him; but there was a different interpretation in my subconscious. I got curious about his behavior. What reason does he have to behave like this? Later I realized that it was just how he talks – he has a loud voice.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive Friends
Positivity is contagious. Research has shown that we are the products of our five closest friends. If you always hang around positive people, they will surely influence you. Stay with friends who always see the positive side of things.
Let go of toxic people in your life. This is not always easy, but our state of mind matters the most. Avoid negative friends whenever possible and limit how often you listen and talk to them.
5. Always Engage in Things You Love
This might be easier said than done; but trust me, it is one of the best ways to rewire your brain to become positive. You need to find a specific time to do something you really love. Try setting aside at least an hour each day to engage in things that give you sincere happiness.
For me, it is watching movies. After everyone has gone to bed, I make time for myself to catch up on movies. Since no one is awake, there are no distractions or disturbances. For you it might be cooking, starting new hobbies, playing sports or anything else that brings you joy.
6. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is an effective way to rewire your brain to be positive. It boosts dopamine and serotonin which are the brain’s “happy” chemicals. Practicing gratitude can be self-gratitude or showing gratitude to others. It boosts your self-esteem and increases empathy.
How can you practice this? Start with something little. For example, I am thankful for being alive this morning. I can be thankful for the rain or for the sun shining on my skin. It is about finding things to be thankful for, no matter how small.
Meditating daily helps you be more positive because it helps the brain’s ability to regulate emotions. It helps to fight anxiety and increases positivity.
There are many mobile apps to help you start your daily meditation. There are also numerous classes online. (Yoga classes and martial arts always have a period for meditation.)
Positive thinking is a step in the right direction towards productivity. It is a choice. You must choose whether you are ready to give all it takes to live a happy and positive life.