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- Worst-case thinking – You have a sense that everything is going downhill. You have to wait in a long line at the grocery store, and it serves as a sign that your whole day will be terrible.
- Black and white – Everything is either wholly positive or wholly negative to you. There are no subtleties to your attitude. Events are either 100% great or 100% disastrous.
Ways to develop a more optimistic perspective
Every coin has two sides, and turning negativity into positivity can be as easy as a twist of the wrist. A few methods to see the happier side of any scenario include the following:
- Be specific – You don’t have to change your thinking all once. Instead, notice which areas of your life tend to generate the most negativity and stress. Try first to change your attitude toward those “problem areas,” which might be driving or dating.
- Self-monitor – At regular moments throughout the day, take stock of your attitude and adjust as needed.
- Laugh – Taking a lighthearted approach to difficult circumstances assists in stress management.
- Stay in shape – Be sure to get in a minimum of three weekly workouts. Eat nutritious meals. Also try breathing exercises (as recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil on *The Colbert Report* http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/85759/april-24-2007/dr--andrew-weil) and other stress minimization tactics.
- Recognize that your friends can be contagious – Being around other optimistic people can make it easier for you to maintain an optimistic attitude yourself. Pessimism from others, especially if you are consistently exposed to it, can put your stress reduction strategy at risk.
- Go easy on yourself – If a statement you are making to yourself would be cruel and unfair to say to another person, consider the self-talk and revise it. When you feel badly toward yourself or your situation, consider it thoughtfully and infuse positivity into the equation.
Beyond the Mayo Clinic advice http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950 detailed above, Entrepreneur magazine provides a couple additional techniques http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/225683 that can help alter your mindset throughout the day:
- Be grateful for what you have – We are critical beings, and there’s an evolutionary advantage to focusing on bad situations and learning from them. However, that focus can also make the positive elements of your life seem less important. Journal each week or even each day, listing all the best experiences you had.
- Use mantras – Create specific nuggets of positivity, expressed in concise statements, to remind yourself that everything will be all right when stress arises. Try the following: “I will choose relaxation,” or, “Time is not running out.”
When your mind is filled with negative thoughts, senses of sadness and frustration become inflated. Stress elevates, and health can suffer. Notice the types of negative thinking that are included in your self-talk, and use the above methods to bolster your optimism. A free consultation with certified life coach Julie Vie provides a path to positivity and the empowerment of becoming a muse: 888-988-MUSE (6873).
By Kent Roberts