I often speak to people who say “I can’t run to save my life”.
Well I’ve got news for you sweetheart, if you were being chased by a wilder-beast and running was actually going to save you, you’d be sprinting for the hills!
Does negative thinking limit our ability to achieve new goals? Barbara Fredrickson certainly thinks so.
Fredrickson is a a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, who recently published a landmark paper on the impact of positive thinking on achieving your goals. She studies how positive thinking affects your work, your health, and your life and if her paper is anything to go by, thinking positive can make all the difference.
Thinking Negative is Limiting
Have you ever thought that maybe you are afraid to fail? Negative emotions and thoughts are based around fear. When you feel afraid of trying something new, it’s generally because you are scared about the outcome. Not knowing what can happen makes us uncertain and because of our fear of failing (and what that might mean long term), we limit our opportunities. When you say “I can’t do that” you cement the negative thinking in your mind.
Positive Thinking Gives You Opportunities
Happy thoughts don’t vanish as soon as you might think. Actively thinking positive opens you up to try more things. When you think positive you physically relax and you become less concerned about the outcome of a situation. In fact thinking positive is a great way to stay ‘in the now’. No one knows what the future will be bring, so instead of being afraid, focus on enjoying right now. Thinking positive about a new goal can give you confidence and help you relax.
How Can You Turn Negative Into Positive?
It can be hard to stop the negative thoughts and focus on the positive, especially if you’ve made a habit of negative thinking! The easiest way to turn your thoughts around is by doing the following things.
1) Be aware of your thoughts – it’s your brain, you get to decide how much energy you spend thinking positively or negatively. It might seem hard at first, but actively addressing negative thoughts and reshaping them into a more positive attitude can help change those bad habits. It takes time to get rid of a habit, but just like quitting smoking, you’ll be healthier in the long run!
2) Surround yourself with people who enjoy life – they say we are a sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Make sure those people inspire you to live a happier life and achieve the things that make you feel positive. Hanging around with negative Nancy’s all the time is draining and long term their negative thinking will hold you back.
3) Meditate – Fredrickson‘s research shows a clear correlation between people who meditate and positive thinking. Meditation also has the added bonus of relaxing you, decreasing stress and helping you be more mindful.
4) Play and Create – Spend some time each week in an activity that brings you joy, whether it’s painting, drawing, running, surfing or playing on a swing set. Setting time apart to have fun will keep you feeling happier and keep those positive thoughts flowing.
5) Be kind to yourself – we are often our own worst enemy. It’s hard enough to deal with negativity from the outside world when we are filling our own minds with it every day. Remember, you are the first person to hear your thoughts, thoughts become words and words become actions. So think as you wish to be. 🙂
6) Embrace the bad days – everyone has bad days when it gets pretty tough to deal with negative thoughts. Give yourself the time you need to wallow, but remember, negative thinking is self indulgent thinking. Give yourself a time limit to get all your grumbling out and then wake up the next day ready to start afresh.
Whatever your goal, learning to run, draw or play the guitar, positive thinking will help you get there. Thanks to people like Fredrickson we now know that it does make a difference, so smile and give, whatever you’ve been afraid of, a go!