Adopt a Positive Mindset in 5 Simple Steps Healthy Spirit Body Mind
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Adopt a Positive Mindset in 5 Simple Steps
Do you sometimes have a plain old grouchy day? Do you ever find yourself replaying a fight with a friend over and over in your head? Do you sometimes get hit with the blues or the blahs and you feel like you have a hard time shaking it off?
All of these states of mind are part of being human. We all go through one or all of these states fairly regularly. Butâ¦ we also have the power to do something about it.
I know this from personal experience. Once upon a time I wasÂ fairly anxious and worried and I made up all kinds of disaster fantasies that would never really come true. Why did I do this? I donât know, and it doesnât really matter. For whatever reason, that was just the way my brain tended to drift. So I can tell you, Iâve been there. I didnât like how it felt emotionally or physically. I didnât like the kind of friend I was being. I didnât like how I was treating myself.
I canât tell you exactly how or when the change came about, but I can tell you that through a process of time, attention, and thoughtfulness I changed the way I think. Current research has shown that people, at any age, have the capacity to retrain their brains.
So, if you occasionally get hit with the blues, anxiety, âmonkey mindâ, remember that you have the power to change your thought patterns. If you choose to. If you work at it.
Donât let the title fool you. The steps are simple. Taking action on them takes work.
Iâm not offering a quick fix that will manifest a positive mindset tomorrow. Iâm offering suggestions that I know will work, if you want them to, if you take action.
1) Acknowledge that you have choice in where your thoughts take you
The first step to creating a positive mindset, or happier outlook (whatever you want to call it) is acknowledging that you have choice about what is going on in your head.
You have a choice about mentally rehashing that fight with your friend last week. You have a choice about being anxious about your upcoming review. You have a choice about whether or not to be pissed off at the current state of politics in the US or the world.
Knowing that we CAN turn off the auto-pilotâ¦ that we DO have a choice in what occupies our mindâ¦ is the first step to adopting a positive mindset.
Awareness is the key. It is the first step.
2) Recognize negative stories as theyâre happening
Recognizing stories as theyâre happening requires us to be present. Present moment awareness, sometimes called mindfulness or meditation, is useful for many reasons.
One of those reasons is to help cultivate awareness of when our minds are spinning out of control.
When our minds spin weâre often creating stories about the past or future. The past is in the past, so unless youâre creating an action to plan to resolve what has already taken place, there is little point in ruminating about it. The future is in the future. While constructive planningÂ isÂ beneficial, if youâre creating disaster stories, remember theyâre just stories.
I know a couple of people who are disaster preppers, and though it is valuable to have supplies on hand for emergency, there is a downside to spending emotional and mental energy worrying non-stop about the next earthquake.
When you notice youâre telling yourself stories in your head check-in with yourself to see if theyâre making you feel peaceful or anxious. If these stories are not serving you well, acknowledge them (rather than suppressing or denying them) and put them to rest.
Take a moment to break the thought cycle by taking a few deep breaths. Inhale for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Repeat a couple of times as necessary. This acts like a reboot for your mind.
This step also requires present moment awareness. Sometimes we get so caught up in our minds that we totally forget to pay attention to how our bodies feel. But our bodies can tell us quite a bit about how weâre doing in general.
Take a momentâ¦ yes, right nowâ¦ to notice how your body feels.
Do you feel tension or discomfort anywhere? Where are you feeling most relaxed? How does your belly feel? What is your breathing like? Often we go through an entire day or week without paying attention to any of this.
Bodies can be a huge indicator of our mental and emotional state.
Over time, with practice, Iâve become able to identify how different emotions feel in my body. A few months ago I received some distressing news. And immediately my belly got knotted up. Over the next 24 hours as I listened to my body what I realized that I thought was anger and fear was really sadness. I didnât make the connection intellectually. I needed my body to tell me what was really going on.
So the next time you notice youâre feeling tense or have butterflies in your stomach, notice what youâre thinking. If youâre stressed out or worried, go back to step 2 and try out that breathing exercise. See if that helps.
4) Go outside and revel in the beauty of nature
Another way of helping to break the negative mental cycle, and help our bodies feel better, is to go outside.
Get some fresh air. Get a bit of sunshine, or breeze, or gentle rain on our face. Connect with something that is growing. Take a walk.
Whether you live near a park, a forest, or the water or in the city, look for something that is green and alive. Listen to the birds. Notice the temperature and the humidity.
Ohâ¦ there is that present moment awareness idea againâ¦ Focusing attention on nature and life outside of yourself is a great way to move into a positive mental mindset.
5) Do something kind for someone else
The last tip is to create connection with someone or something else. Get out of your own mind through extending kindness to another.
The act of making someone else happy, extending even the smallest of kindnesses to another, helps us feel better about ourselves.
Hold a door for someone. Smile and say hello to someone. Give your dog an extra snuggle.
All of these actions help us move beyond ourselves, creating a sense of connection with the world around us.
Choose one or all of these tips to put into action TODAY. Repeat them tomorrow. Repeat for a week, and then a month. Pretty soon, these simple techniques will help develop a positive mindset and will lead down the path of living a more content and joyful life.
← Highlights of the 2015 Global Compassion Summit
Adopt a Positive Mindset in 5 Simple Steps
Highlights of the 2015 Global Compassion Summit
May 30th ~ Take Care of Yourself