I’ve got some great positive thinking techniques and exercises you can use to develop a positive mindset.
I used to wonder how to have a positive mindset that actually endures. Because sure, we all have a moment when we feel great, but most of us also have some seriously negative times too.
I researched through all the best positive thinking techniques, all the ways how to have a positive mindset. And I found tons of exercises. However, I also found a vital secret: there is one big mistake most people make with positive thinking. That mistake is that they force their thoughts.
Studies show that the best way how to have a positive mindset is not to force yourself to think happy, optimistic thoughts all the time.
You should never repress negative thinking, or demand yourself to always think about positive things, like achieving your goals or being happy all day long. Forcing thoughts in such a way is unhealthy and unnatural.
Instead, you should try to develop what cognitive behavioural therapists call automatic positive thoughts. These are thoughts that arise naturally.
There are ways to make positive thinking automatic, little positive thinking exercises that train you to develop a positive mindset.
As you guys know, I’m a mental health athlete. I do positive – mindset training daily so that my mind is always in peak condition. I do this because I believe mental health is the most crucial thing for we humans.
There are significant benefits to having a positive mindset. I will discuss those benefits with you in a moment. But essentially, when we have a positive mindset, we enjoy every moment of the day.
Mental health is usually talked about in negative ways. When we hear “mental health” the terms “anxiety, depression, and stress” aren’t far away. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Physical health is about being fit as much as it’s about not being overweight. And mental health is not just about depression and anxiety. It’s about being happy, feeling good, and keeping a positive mindset. We can achieve this with some positive thinking techniques.
Let me show you how to develop a positive mindset. Simply try the exercises below.
12 Best Positive Thinking Techniques To Develop A Positive Mindset
One of the most critical steps towards feeling fantastic inside is to change your negative beliefs and negative thoughts. There are positive thinking techniques that help.
I’ve been practising 12 psychological ways to develop a positive mindset. And I cannot believe how much of a difference these techniques have made.
1: 100 good things
If you want to know how to develop a positive mindset, train your mind to think positive thoughts instead of negative ones. You do not want to remove negative thoughts altogether. Nor do you want to ignore negative thoughts. Alternatively, use the following exercise for positive – mindset training.
Here’s how to do it.
This idea is straightforward. Wherever you are, find 100 things you like about it.
For me, for instance, every time I walk to work I start to count things I like, such as trees and plants, and then I’ll list various objects I like. Doing so will get me up to 30 or 40. Things get harder when you run out of positive things to list.
To get to 100, you will need to search around for positive things. Training the mind in this way makes you see the world more positively. Because while you are searching for positives, you will be training your brain to seek out the positive things in life. And guess what? Once you stop this exercise, your mind will naturally continue to look for sources of positivity. Talk about some tremendous positive-mindset training!
Once you’ve been doing this technique for a while, you will naturally start to think positively without even trying.
If you find it challenging to get those positive thoughts, meditation will help. Simply close your eyes, focus on your breath and count 100 things you liked about the day.
2: Something good in everything
One of the best positivity exercises is to force yourself to see something positive in everything.
This works as a continuation of the exercise above.
Once we’ve listed 100 good things about the place we’re in, we then look for the good in whatever we see.
For instance, if we happen to look at someone we don’t get along with we have to see one good thing in them and focus on it.
Here’s a challenge:
- Intentionally go somewhere where there will be people you don’t get along with
- Mindfully observe them and also observe the way you feel about them
- Tell yourself that your negative thoughts and feelings are not real, they are just thoughts and feelings
- Now list as many things as possible that you like (or admire) about them
Note that this is one of the best positive thinking exercises for anxiety and depression because it makes you see little things that you like in things that make you anxious or depressed. For instance, I used to be worried about the dentist, but then I started to see the things I liked about them instead, such as my clean white teeth. This changes negative to positive.
This is a powerful positive thinking technique. It trains the mind to see the good even in things we don’t particularly like. This method is the best ways how to have a positive mindset because even if you are somewhere you don’t like or doing something you don’t want to do, you will still see the positive.
3: Give people compliments
Ah, one of my favourite positivity exercises. This one trains the mind to see the good in everyone.
If you have ever wondered how to develop a positive mindset about other people, this technique will most assuredly help. It’s great for social anxiety, too.
The idea is simple:
- For every person you see, think of ten good things about them.
- Don’t like your mother-in-law? Tough whoopee. You have to come up with ten beautiful things to say about her.
- And then you have to give the person one compliment.
This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Complimenting someone you don’t get along with is not easy. But it is worth it.
If you struggle with this one, spend some time thinking about the positive qualities of other people and all the beautiful things you have done for one another. This will fill you with positive thoughts about people.
4: Change your negative thoughts
This is a marvellous positive thinking technique to help overcome any negative thoughts.
The average person thinks approximately 70,000 thoughts every day. And 80% of those thoughts contain negativity.
In this positivity exercise, we find ten alternatives to our negative thoughts.
Now, a quick bit of maths tells us that 70,000 thoughts a day multiplied by ten is 700,000. So that’s not going to work. That’s why we focus on specific thoughts when we do this technique.
We’re looking for automatic and recurring thoughts. These are negative thoughts we often experience and want to change. You’ll already have a good idea of what these thoughts are.
When we experience one of these recurring negative thoughts, we find ten positive thoughts as alternatives to it. This limbers up the mind and shakes off that negative thought.
Here’s how (This is a cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) technique. )
- Take 25 mindful breaths
- Observe your thoughts
- Notice when you experience automatic negative thoughts (these are negative thoughts that you often think unintentionally
- Think of ten positive thoughts as alternatives to the negative thoughts
- Continue until you have changed ten thoughts.
Daily practise of this positive thinking technique will have a considerable impact on your mindset.
5: Share your positive thoughts with other people
Practically everyone wants to know how to have a positive mindset. And one of the best ways to get there is to share our positive thoughts with other people.
Whenever somebody asks me how to think positive, I always ask them to take a look around and describe the things they like to me.
Here’s how to do it
- Chat to someone you get along with
- Now instead of talking about your thoughts, only talk about what is happening around you. In other words, talk mindfully and positively. For instance, “I love how that leaf is gently blowing in the wind”.
- Once you get in the habit of talking to other people in this way, it will start to be automatic, and you will naturally speak and feel positive. That’s why this is one of the best ways how to develop a positive mindsete.
This positivity exercise achieves many things. It makes us more mindful. It encourages us to focus on the positive. It makes us more aware of what’s happening in the now. And it also makes us better conversationalists.
Try this positive thinking exercise with a friend. It’s a real mood booster.
6. Positive Thinking Meditation
As a meditation teacher, I often use a positive – thinking meditation technique to boost my happiness quickly and to develop a positive mindset.
If you want happiness and success, you should start using some positive thinking meditation techniques.
Indeed, one of the very best ways to be happier is to use daily meditations for positivity.
When you practice positive thinking meditations, you slow your mind down and focus on things that make you feel good.
When you meditate, you see your thoughts and beliefs floating around in your mind like dust-clouds in the air. You’ll notice how all those little thoughts and ideas influence you. They affect your feelings, influence your actions, and impact your future. That’s why we need to change negative beliefs.
My favourite positive thinking meditation technique is just to meditate on my breath and then bring to mind all the moments in my life that made me feel amazing. Truly visualise those things.
You’re human. So inevitably you will have a certain amount of doubts and worries occupying your mind. Even people who have absolutely nothing to worry about still end up worrying about the future. Anxiety is all too common.
To be human is to worry. Fear and worries permeate the mind. However, because we are discussing how to develop a positive mindset, you will want to get rid of those negative thoughts. One of the best ways to do that is with the following positive thinking meditation technique.
- To do this positive thinking meditation, you’ll first need to come up with a mantra or affirmation that evokes the kind of thought you wish to achieve.
- Take your time and choose a positive mantra that creates the right feeling.
- For instance, if you want to stay positive about life in general, you might choose the mantra “Life is good.” If you want to stay positive about a goal, weight loss, for instance, you could choose the mantra “I’m feeling good about losing weight.”
- Find somewhere quiet where you can sit in peace for ten minutes without being disturbed.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Continue to do so for five minutes, or until you feel relaxed and focused.
- Begin to recite your mantra to yourself. You may say it out loud or whisper it. While doing so, think about your mantra and what it means.
- Continue to recite your mantra for ten minutes, while meditating on the meaning of the mantra.
- To finish, stop reciting the mantra and simply sit silently for two or three minutes.
- Repeat every day.
7. Appreciate whatever comes along
Question: What do we mean when we say life is hard?
Most people mean it is hard to make life the way you want it.
In other words, it’s hard to shape life to our desire.
Another question: why bother.
There are two elements to that sentence above: it is hard to [make life] [the way we want it].
Foolishly, everyone focuses on the first half of the sentence: making life something.
They would be much happier if they focused on the other half what they want.
It’s like the story of Buddha:
A monk says to Buddha, “I want happiness”.
Buddha says, “Okay. Remove want, that’s desire. Now remove “I”, that’s ego. See. Now you have happiness. ( happiness)
Try this positive mindset training technique:
- If life is not what you want, learn to like what life is.
- Appreciate things the way they are.
- Do not try and force life to comply with a delusional mindset.
- Appreciate life as it comes to you.
Like the Dale Carnegie quote says, “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get”.
This is a type of positive mindset training that will give you a new perspective and help you to appreciate even the most challenging times in life.
8. Feel content:
There is a famous Buddha quote that says:
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”
How can you think positive all the time when you never feel content with your life?
Many people associate contentment with wealth. But wealth is more than just the money in our bank accounts. Real wealth is spiritual contentment. It’s feeling good about the world at large.
Life is so much easier when we are spiritually content. And it is easy to become spiritually satisfied. Simply focus more on the things you have rather than the things you don’t have.
9. When life feels hard, try this positive thinking technique
If you want to develop a positive mindset, you need to appreciate the hard times in life. Because hard times will come. That’s inevitable. Thinking positively means you’re positive even in the hardest of times. So how do you do that?
There are two solutions.
- Be more hopeful during challenging times
- Appreciate the hard times
To make life easier, relish the challenge.
There is this misguided notion that success means overcoming adversity.
True success means recognising the beauty and value of adversity itself.
When we understand the intrinsic good in life’s challenges, we stop worrying about success or failure, about easy or hard, we learn to appreciate the journey.
We can go through life’s challenges without being destroyed by them. There are ways to remain positive in difficult times.
So here is how to think positively always (even during the roughest times). Simply look back through your life and recognise all the challenges you have faced and how they have helped you to grow. See the value of adversity.
10. For anxiety…
Another of the best positive thinking techniques for anxiety is to focus on the present moment.
There is a rule in psychology that says that we should only ever focus on the step we are on right now. Because how can we think positively when we are always focused on those big problems that are just over the horizon?
If you’re climbing a mountain, don’t focus on the miles you have to climb, focus on the next step. Then what seems impossible will seem easy.
This is one of the little positive mindset exercises that’ll make a big difference. It can change our perspective and make us realise that actually, life is easy provided we go one step at a time.
When people ask me “How to have a positive mindset” I remind them to step back and just do what they are doing right now.
11: Follow your heart
Conflicts make life hard.
The most significant conflict of all is when our love or passion faces off against rationality and logic.
Logic is a valuable tool. But it is nowhere near as vital or powerful as love.
Love is always right.
Sure, it’s often painful.
Sometimes it leads us to crazy-town.
But it is always right.
Even if we cannot see that love is right, it is.
That’s why you should stop working hard and just do what you love instead.
Love is a test.
It says, “Are you brave enough to follow me”.
The enlightened scream “Yes” in response. That is why they live such large and loud lives.
If you want to know how to have a positive mindset in life, follow love.
12. You can’t have a positive mindset without a little faith
Yes, having faith is one of the best positive thinking techniques.
Cast out your oars and trust in the ocean’s currents to carry you where they will.
There is a power controlling our destiny. And it sure as hell is not us. To make life easy, recognise the higher power.
We may be given free will to help guide our vessel, but it is the universe’s ship, not ours. We are just blessed to exist in this vast ocean for a short spell.
Trust that life will carry you to your destination. Have faith in the cosmic powers of the universe.
13. Part of developing a positive mindset means letting go
A lot of people start trying to develop a positive mindset because they want to get more from life. But part of positivity is letting go.
The serenity prayer says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Enlightened people know what was meant for them.
Unenlightened people do not.
Just because you want something doesn’t mean you’ll get it. And it doesn’t mean you need it. It just means you happen to be experiencing an emotional state of mind that is telling your brain that you have a desire for something.
Some things are not meant for us. And part of having a positive mindset means accepting what isn’t meant for you.
Let go of what is not yours. Then you will embrace the infinity of things that are uniquely yours, the myriad splendorous gifts the universe bestows on you.
Havinga positive attitude towards life makes a huge difference in life. Not only does positivity make us healthier, but positive attitudes towards life lead to an enlightened perspective that can revolutionise our lives.
With these positive thought techniques you can start to develop a positive mindset
But why does positivity matter? Let’s take a look.
How A Positive Mindset & Positive Thinking Changes Your Health
- When you know how to have a positive mindset, you will be able to stay happy in harder times.
- Positive thoughts have a profound effect on our life and longevity.
- People who think they are healthy will live significantly longer than people who think they are unhealthy.
- Doctors encouraged to treat patients with positive thinking.
- Helps you to be mentally strong and happy.
It is one of the oldest philosophical debates: do thoughts control life?
One side of the argument says that hell no, thoughts don’t control reality, get real.
Many people have called it a stupid, romantic notion, the idea that merely thinking something could make it real.
After all, how could something that occurs only in the mind possibly affect the entirety of our external reality?
You can’t deny the importance of a positive mindset. When you know how to have a positive mindset, you are more capable of getting through stress and problems in life, and you will undoubtedly be a lot happier.
Too many of us know what it feels like when the mind does indeed control life—for better or worse.
They know firsthand what Roman poet Horace meant when he said, “Rule your mind or your mind will rule you.”
Well, now there are finally proven benefits of positivity.
Yes, there are lots of benefits of positivity. And you can get those benefits of positivity by doing positivity exercises and techniques, along with having some happy hobbies.
Health effects of being positive
Positive thoughts result in good health, which is why you should seriously consider starting the positive thinking exercises above.
And that’s hardly surprising when you think about it.
Our entire lives can seem like heaven or hell, depending on whether we think positively or negatively.
We’ve known for years that negativity is a killer.
Stress (which is ultimately dwelling on the negative) is the number one killer in the world.
I have personally suffered what is called Acute Stress Disorder. This was a time when my thoughts controlled my life in a bad way.
PsychCentral says Acute Stress Disorder is “characterised by the development of severe anxiety, dissociative, and other symptoms that occurs within one month after exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor (e.g., witnessing a death or serious accident).”
Negative thoughts really can kill. So it any surprise that there are health benefits of positivity?
It makes you live longer
Positive thinking exercises don’t just make you happier; they make you healthier too.
Today, Stanford published a breakthrough study by the journal Health Psychology.
This study proves that people who think they are unhealthy are at higher risk of death.
But the research goes even further.
What you will find stunning is the fact that thinking you are healthy is more important than actually being fit.
That’s right. Thinking yourself healthy is more important than actually being fit.
Just by knowing how to have a positive mindset (especially in the difficult times in life), you will become much healthier.
Sounds remarkable. Yet this is a study on the health benefits of positivity by a leading university, and it took more than a decade to complete. The researchers examined information collected by the National Center for Health Statistics take from over 60,000 people between 1990 and 2011. The people studied were all from different backgrounds and had a diverse range of fitness levels and health conditions. So make no mistake about it: This was a legit study. Some of these participants were followed for as long as 21 years. And 10% died during the study time.
Specifically, the study looked at:
- Health benefits of positivity
- How often people performed different exercises and activities.
- How active people were
- Whether they smoked
- How often they were sick
- How active and healthy people thought they were.
- How much physical work or exercise they did each week
- The study also looked at an extensive range of demographic details.
- This shows why it is so important to know how to have a positive mindset.
So now you know how to have a positive mindset, you might wonder if any health benefits come with positive thoughts.
Researchers at Stanford looked at long-term data for people who have predominantly positive thoughts.
- The data showed that if people think they are less fit than their peers, they will have a significantly higher risk of death.
- Risk of death is 18% higher for people who think they are less active than others.
- People who predominantly think positive thoughts about exercise are 71% less likely to die than people who consider themselves to be unfit.
Yes, there are significant benefits to positive thoughts. This is why I believe that “positive mindset training” should be talked about in the same way physical exercise is because it is incredibly vital to our health.
More benefits of positive thinking exercises
So how can we explain these health benefits of positivity?
Well, we can think of positivity or negativity as being a kind of mental hygiene. It affects the mind, just like personal hygiene affects the body.
A positive mindset is a clear mind, and a clear mind is healthy. That’s why it is so important to know how to have a positive mindset.
Spiritualists have known this for millennia. But it’s only recently that science is learning about it. And they are trying to discover why thinking positively matters.
Why is works
- Mindset affects motivation. If we feel inactivate, we will be inactive, and this will lead to us exercising less, leading to declining health. This is why mindset is critical when losing weight.
- If we think we are less active than other people, we will feel stress about it (stress is the number one killer in the world).
- Placebo: The way we think about ourselves has a profound effect on our wellbeing.
In a nutshell: think you’re a healthy, active person and you will lower your risk of death.
Being Happy Makes You Healthier
The latest scientific research shows how being positive and happy affects health. Scientists are surprised to find that our mind and emotions play a pivotal role in our health.
- Research confirms the views of ancient spiritual texts, which state that mindset and consciousness change our physical state.
- Researchers are excited. They suggest that soon our doctors might prescribe a dose of positivity instead of medication.
- These findings back-up the science on the health benefits of a positive mindset.
It turns out there are lots of health benefits of happiness too. Of course, the positive thinking techniques we looked at above will make you happier. And that will boost your wellbeing.
Positive emotions have a positive influence on the immune system and cardiovascular system according to the latest scientific research from the University of California: Irvine.
So while you’re getting the health benefits of your positive mindset, you might as well get the health benefits of happiness too!
Sarah Pressman [associate professor of psychology and social behaviour] and a team of researchers were surprised to find that cultivating happiness and positive perceptions improves the immune system and cardiovascular systems (note that spiritual texts have been saying this for approximately 3000 years).
Happiness may even help heal injuries and illnesses.
“…Greater contentment, optimism, a sense of life purpose, low stress and other indicators of subjective wellbeing are tied to better health and longevity, including surviving serious diseases, and even avoiding acute illnesses,” Pressman said.
Researchers are stating that shortly, when we’re sick, doctors may prescribe a course of positivity alongside medication.
“We now have to take very seriously the finding that happy people are healthier and live longer, and that chronic unhappiness can be a true health threat,” said Prof. Ed Diener.
Mental suffering (stress, depression and anxiety) are significant threats to cardiovascular health and the immune system, the researchers tell us.
What does it mean for us? A lot.
- It means school bullies don’t just upset kids; they make them ill.
- It means if your boss gives you too much stress, he is seriously effecting your immune system.
- It means society has a responsibility to force those in authority to protect the safety of our emotional wellbeing.
- It means if you’re hitting the gym to keep fit and healthy, you should do positivity exercises at the same time because happiness is paramount.
The mind and spirit are the sources of our health and vitality. Doctors need to stop hurling medication at us and start asking “How is your spiritual and psychological state?”.
These health benefits of positivity and happiness prove one thing: It’s all about your mindset.
And now you know how to have a positive mindset always! So you can enjoy all those health benefits!
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Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
Think Positive: 11 Ways to Boost Positive Thinking, Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/click-here-happiness/201803/think-positive-11-ways-boost-positive-thinking
Positive Thinking: What It Is and How to Do It – WebMD https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/positive-thinking-overview
The Power of Positive Thinking | Johns Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-power-of-positive-thinking
How power of positive thinking works – Harvard Gazette https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/12/optistic-women-live-longer-are-healthier/