What does a positive mindset look like to you? There is no one-size-fits-most definition, but having an idea and a goal of reaching that target is the first step to getting there.
For most people, a positive mindset includes some version of life and financial stability, motivation, confidence, control, and overall happiness. Your mind is responsible for many of the choices in your day, so having a positive mindset with those factors in it is a surefire way to a better life.
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Why Mindset Matters
How you think about things, such as your belief system, values, and attitude toward each situation, matters. When you approach each decision of your day and every interaction with an open mind, you’re more likely to have successful outcomes.
So how can you adjust your mindset to become more positive? First, let’s include the caveat that it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll have forward momentum and backslides while you retrain your brain to think positively. But as long as you don’t give up and you use these steps to guide you, greater happiness through a newly positive way of thinking can be yours!
1. Recognize Your Mindsets
Is your present mindset truly based on your current situation? If all is well in the moment, you could be pulling from past issues or future worries. Try to adjust your thinking to be where you are, not where you were or could be later. Worrying about the future simply puts you through the stress twice, if it even happens. And the past can’t be changed, but it doesn’t need to affect your present or future.
No matter how rough your past was, try to find something good about it. Maybe your tough times brought you someplace where you met your best friend, or you have your beloved child thanks to the steps you took.
Then, attempt to adjust your future worries and “what if” thinking to optimistic thoughts. What if something good happens instead of the bad things you’re worried about?
Switching from pessimism to optimism might not change the outcome of the future, but it will change how you feel right now.
2. Put Effort Into Retraining Your Thinking Patterns
How you think is a pattern you’ve developed over time through environmental and psychological conditioning. The study of how your brain and behavior intersect is called neuropsychology, and it’s worth delving into for a little deeper research.
Scientists who have studied this field explain that each experience you have creates a neural pathway in your brain. The more often you have the same type of experience, the more entrenched that pathway becomes. Eventually, it’s so deeply ingrained into your brain that it becomes a difficult habit to quit.
Consider a habit like smoking. You don’t instantly become addicted. The more frequently you pick up a cigarette and inhale, the more it becomes part of your life. You can quit the habit, but it may be extremely difficult. Switching to something similar, such as cannabis or vaping, makes it easier because the pathways have many of the same behaviors. But those habit changes have their own set of complications that build new pathways. For instance, consuming cannabis can get you high — unless it’s raw, as discussed in this article by Veriheal.
The Science of Mindset
Your mindset works in a similar way as habit development. You didn’t always think the way you do now. It took time to develop your values and thought patterns. It will take time, but you can change them, too.
Practice positive thinking purposefully for a few minutes each day. When you’re in a situation you’d normally get upset over, try to change your focus to a happier thought. Think about things you’re grateful for and list them at least once a day.
You’ll notice as you do this regularly, it becomes easier because you’ve begun to create new neural pathways in your brain.
3. Accept Your Strengths and Good Qualities
How well can you take a compliment? If you’re like millions of people, your first instinct is to veto the other person’s words. But that’s insulting to them and you.
What do people usually compliment you about? Is it your smile? Your personality? Your abilities on a computer? What do you see as your strengths?
Instead of focusing on the things you don’t think you do well enough, get real with the strengths you have. You could be excellent at organization or kind to animals. Things you don’t think are a big deal are a weakness for many others. Accept that you have skills that you’ve succeeded at, and build your confidence from there.
These three components are the crucial foundation of a positive mindset. You must recognize your thinking patterns so that you can try to change any unhealthy ones. You’ll need to put time and effort into adjusting them because your neural pathways are already ingrained. And accepting your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses will help you move forward into a happier life full of optimism.