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How to Train Your Brain to Think Positive

Updated on January 7, 2015

“Think positive!” When you hear this phrase, it can be easy to picture a peaceful flower child, young and naïve, who hasn’t yet experienced any real pain or disappointment in life. At first glance, the idea that thinking positively can do anything to improve your life might seem downright ludicrous. But it isn’t. Looking on the brighter side of life isn’t about pretending there are no hurdles or hardships; it’s about looking at them in different way.

Think Positive!
Think Positive!

Positive Thinking Improves Your Health

Research has shown that optimistic people have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more stable cholesterol levels, and less trouble with chronic pain and inflammation. A professor at Carnegie Melon University exposed 276 adult volunteers to a cold virus. Not surprisingly, the subjects who smoked were three times as likely to become ill. What might be surprising is that more negative people, who had the least amount of varied social relationships, were 4.2% more likely to get sick!

How to Train Your Brain to Think Positive

Even if you’ve been a pretty pessimistic person most of your life, you’re not doomed to think that way forever. Science has proven you can change your thinking patterns rather quickly due to something called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the human brain to change as a result of new thoughts, ideas, and experiences.

Ten tips to train your brain to think positive:

1. Be Aware

Your first step to thinking more positively is being aware of your thoughts as they are right now. The average person has 70,000 thoughts per day and often doesn’t notice what they’re thinking about until they suddenly feel angry or anxious. Make a point to tune into your brain and note exactly what you’re thinking about and how it’s affecting you. The amount of negative self-talk you hear might surprise you.

2. Write it Out

If your negative thoughts are often about yourself, you can retrain your brain to see yourself in a different light. Get a piece of paper and a pen and write down 5-10 things you like about you. Don’t put the pen down until you have at least 5. Keep this list by your bed and read them to yourself first thing in the morning. The more you do this, the better you’ll feel and the more confident you’ll be.

You can also train your brain to think positive by writing down all the good things in your life. Once you get clear about what you’re grateful for, more and more good will come your way. This is called “The Law of Attraction”.

Life Without Limbs: Nick Vujicic - Never Give Up

3. Consume Positive Media

You can’t get into a positive mindset if you rabidly consume a steady diet of horror movies, sensationalist news stories, violent video games, and angry music. Even if you only see them as entertainment, your body and mind can be affected by negative media. Scientific studies have proven that watching news coverage of terrorist attacks, war, or murder can cause the same physical reaction in your body as if you were actually there viewing the carnage in person.

To train your brain to think more positively, dial back on the negative media and get into some positive. Read positive quotes, watch an inspiring movie, laugh at some funny websites, and invest in at least one video game where somebody’s arm doesn’t get blown off.

4. Know Your Own Power

People who think negatively often get stuck in a victim pattern. They see life as series of events that happen to them pulling them along in an endless cycle of misery. As a human being, you are much more powerful than that. Simply realizing this can be one of your first steps to thinking more positively.

The next time something negative happens to you (your car breaks down, you stub your toe), resist the temptation to mentally relive everything else that has gone wrong that week. Instead, know you’re in control and see negative experiences as learning opportunities.

After all, taking your car in for a regular oil change or moving the bookcase that’s been in your way for months may be all you need to do to prevent those same annoyances from occurring over and over again.

The Basics

5. Meditate or Do Yoga

Mindfulness exercises like meditation or yoga can go a long way in reducing your stress levels and making you feel more calm and centered. When you’re in a more relaxed state of mind, you naturally feel more positive.

6. Learn to Say "No"

Giving, altruistic people are primarily optimists. However, if you overdue it and give so much of yourself there’s nothing left over, you’re liable to feel resentful. One of the best things you can do for your health is to learn how to say “no”. Taking on more projects than you can handle will only keep you in a negative state of mind.

7. See Like a Child

Children look at the world through brand new eyes, taking it all in and experiencing everything to its fullest. A good way to train your brain to think positive is to step back and see through the eyes of a child again. The next time you’re at the park, notice the sky, trees, and flowers and really see their beauty. The more beauty, peace, and comfort you purposely take note of, the more you’ll see when you’re not even trying.

8. Surround Yourself with Positive People

If the people you surround yourself are always complaining or putting down your dreams, you’ll begin to take on these negative characteristics. When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll feel naturally uplifted.

9. Make Time to Relax

Having a strong work ethic is important but you can also burn yourself out if you’re not careful. When you’re constantly burning the candle at both ends, you’ll be stressed and anxious and you won’t feel positive. Making time to relax and unwind is just as important as reaching your professional goals.

10. Fake it Till You Make It

If you’re not feeling positive, fake it. Smile. Be upbeat. Tell jokes. Compliment others. Be outgoing. The more you project an attitude of positivity, the more people will see you as a positive person and will treat you accordingly. Eventually, positive will be your new normal!

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Becoming a more positive person doesn’t happen overnight. Take time to implement these tips and over the course of a few months, you’ll notice real change. Don’t be surprised if people notice your new attitude before you do. You can do this. The more positive your attitude toward life, the more doors will open, and the more positive experiences you’ll enjoy!

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    • profile image

      Sonia Sylart 13 months ago

      Negative thinking definitely has a negative effect on health. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      muralitharan 3 years ago

      Very useful hub ...helps me to begin new positive life.

    • passionate77 profile image

      passionate77 3 years ago

      very insightful hub, very thoroughly written and filled with easy to follow step by step advice, thanks for sharing jaime, stay blessed dear!