Choosing to have a positive outlook and mindset does not guarantee that everything will move along smoothly and that there won't be bumps in the road. However, it does ensure that you will be able to keep yourself going and that any bad event or setback that you encounter will not completely stop you in your tracks. It means that whatever happens, you will be in a position to keep going and to keep trying.
A good approach to shifting your mindset comes in three steps:
1- want to change
2- be aware and be present when you're being negative and catch yourself
3- decide to be positive.
Here are a few strategies for achieving a positive mindset that I have found to be tremendously useful:
Change your self-talk: You are the only person you will share your entire life with. We all have thoughts in our heads and our constant inner voice and inner dialogue. Why not make this voice a positive and friendly one instead of a bitter and negative one?
Change your language/words: Refrain from "absolutisms" because unless you're talking about the laws of physics, using words such as never, always, every, all, none, no one, and everyone can be very limiting and may trick yourself into believing things which just aren't true. Simply using the phrases "I can" and "it's possible" can make an enormous positive difference.
Adopt a growth mindset: Everyone is capable of learning new things. It may take some people longer than others and it may seem easier to some, but there is practically no reason to genuinely think that you know everything there is to know and that you cannot learn, change, and grow. We have the ability to have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset- choose wisely.
"You try something, it doesn't work, and maybe people even criticize you. In a fixed mindset, you say, 'I tried this, it's over.' In a growth mindset, you look for what you've learned. "
- Carol S. Dweck
Aim for favorable results: We may not achieve each and every goal we think of but that doesn't mean we can't try. Doesn't it make more sense to aim for a positive outcome? Perhaps prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and expect that you're going to give it the attempt you deserve.
Give yourself credit: It may be human nature to beat ourselves up about things that didn't turn out the way we wanted but try flipping the script instead. Think about just how far you have already come and what you have already learned. Accomplishments can be better motivators than dwelling on perceived failures. Confidence to tackle current and future situations can come from the fact that you've already made it through previous rough patches.
"Remembering what you've been through and how that has strengthened your mindset can lift you out of a negative brain loop and help you bypass those weak, one-second impulses to give in. Even if you're feeling low and beat down by life right now, I guarantee you can think of a time or two when you overcame odds and tasted success."
- David Goggins
Be open to opportunities: When we are negative we are often focusing on the bad things or what went wrong and that train of thought can limit our chances of being aware of opportunities.
"It's sort of a mental attitude about critical thinking and curiosity. It's about mindset of looking at the world in a playful and curious and creative way."
- Adam Savage
Get out of your comfort zone: The more that you can turn the unfamiliar into the familiar, the more you can upgrade your mindset. In effect, you're training your brain to adapt to a stimulating new environment.
Make U-turns when needed- It's natural to drift into negativity, especially when you are first trying to retrain your thinking patterns. If you catch yourself dwelling on something bad and you can't yet make yourself think positively immediately, give yourself five minutes, or an hour, or half a day- whatever you need to get back on track. The secret to success with this is to consciously reduce the time you need to squash the negativity and regain focus.
Put these practices into your mental toolbox and use them as needed. You can definitely use different approaches at different times. You can make an overwhelmingly positive impact in your life.
It is a positive mental attitude that allows us to focus on the bright side of life and enjoy our existence. We owe it to ourselves to make the most out of what we have and to strive to be better versions of ourselves.