By: Tara Bradford
Positive Thinking Day was created by an American entrepreneur in 2003 to remind us to focus on the positive things in our lives. If you think about it we have a lot of days on the calendar that are placed to remind us to be positive and to celebrate, for instance, Valentine’s Day reminds us to celebrate our romantic relationships. We can get so wrapped up in the routine of day to day life that it is easy to forget to celebrate the things that are most important to us.
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers and tend to believe that everything can be figured out so it’s even more interesting to think that negative thinking was prevalent enough that this person thought they should dedicate a day to reminding people to think positively. But, even if you aren’t an entrepreneur, we could all use a little reminder every once in awhile to celebrate something really amazing in our lives – right?
I want to point out the difference between positive thinking and being happy all the time because I think those two things get mixed up quite often. Positive thinking promotes an attitude that anything can be figured out and any problem can be solved. Being happy all the time or the idea that you should only experience positive emotions implies that you should never have any problems. Thinking that problems are bad and negative emotions should never be felt can hold you back because those beliefs create feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and inadequacy.
Let’s take a look at problem-solving instead of eliminating all problems. In order to solve problems we need to be in an emotional space where we can be productive. If you take a step back and look at how negative emotions can be helpful then you can use those emotions to propel you forward. Negative emotions allow us to pause and notice if something we are doing is not making us feel the way we want to feel. When we become aware of that then we can change what we are doing and redirect ourselves down a path that promotes the feelings we o want to feel. Negative thinking, on the other hand, is not helpful. Negative thinking is that voice in our heads that is telling us we can’t do something. It holds us back and keeps us stuck. It tells us that we are never going to be good enough.
Now that we know the difference between our emotions and our thoughts and how we can use both to help us move forward, I want to give you 5 things you can do every day to help you hijack your negative thoughts:
- Put your phone away when you’re with friends and be present! Research suggests that social interaction can reduce stress over time. We also create anxiety around being connected by having notifications turned on on our cell phones and reaching for our phones every time an alert goes off. You will get way more out of spending time with friends if you put your phone away and leave it on silent. Realistically, how many things could be happening in the world during that time that you absolutely must respond to immediately?
- Remember to take deep breaths. Have you ever noticed your posture and breathing after a stressful day at work? Your shoulders are tense, perhaps your head is down and your body language is closed off, and you are breathing really shallow. You might even be holding your breath for longer periods of time when you find yourself really worried about something. Take a deep breath now and notice which part of your body moves. Is it just your chest? A real deep breath should move your abdomen out, not in. As little as 20-30 minutes of deep breathing a day can reduce stress and anxiety. That’s about 2-3 times an hour.
- Wake up in the morning and smile in gratitude for this day (even on a Monday) instead of grimacing and snoozing your alarm 5 times. Snooze is set to go off approximately every 9 minutes. You don’t actually fall asleep for 10 minutes after you close your eyes so the reality is, even if you intend to go back to sleep for “just a few more minutes” you are not actually sleeping and no matter how many times you snooze you will not feel more rested.
- Listen to your favorite Music. When you listen to music that you connect with, you can use it to change your mood and your mind. Not only do we associate memories with music and it helps us tap into those so we can feel the emotions we associate with that memory, but research also shows that music can be used to help us create new pathways in the brain to help us learn and grow. Growth also prevents us from getting stuck.
- Keep a list of everything that is awesome in your life. When your boss tells you that you did something wrong at work, how much time do you spend feeling bad about it? Do you go and tell your friends what happened and continue to feel worse? Do you go back to work the next day and want to hide your face in embarrassment? Now take a step back and look at how many times that has happened in your career. Let’s say it happens a few times a year. There are 365 days in a year. That is 365 opportunities to do awesome things you can feel good about, but because of those negative emotions, we focus on the rare moments when we mess up without realizing they are rare. If you keep a list of everything that is going right no matter how big (a promotion at work or going on your dream vacation) or small (getting all green lights on your drive to work or remembering an umbrella when it’s raining), you have evidence that even when something happens that makes you feel dumb, you know you aren’t a dumb person.
Negative emotions are just a yield sign to let you know you’re going the wrong way and you need to adjust your path. Negative thoughts are beliefs that hold you back and keep you stuck, but they can be replaced with positive thoughts that help you move forward if you develop daily practices that promote more positive thinking. Leave me a comment below and tell me what you are doing to help promote more positivity in your life!
Tara Bradford is a Growth Strategist & Success Coach. She is the founder of The Potentialista®, an international mentorship program to help extraordinary people become visionary leaders and bring their ambitions to life. Tara has 9 years of experience helping individuals and families through tragedies. When she reached the top of her career path by the age of 26 she discovered that happiness and success are not the same thing. After reinventing her own life, she completed her certification in high performance coaching with a focus on neurolinguistic programming so she could help others change their lives as well.
Tara is passionate about helping high achievers live happy, fulfilling, successful lives by guiding them to develop fierce confidence and limitless self belief. She is also committed to helping empower 1 million women to become leaders in their industries by 2020.