Good vibes only! You’ve seen that wonderful idea floating around social media, right? And it sure does sound lovely…
But are “good vibes only” the answer to building a positive mindset? Heck no! That’s impossible.
Being happy 100% of the time just isn’t doable. So if you’ve struggled to build a positive mindset only to deal with bad vibes and feel like a failure I’m here to help!
Because it’s totally possible to build a positive mindset while still respecting and working through negative emotions. In fact, positive thinking can be a huge help when things get tough.
Let’s find out what a positive mindset is (and isn’t) and how we can tap into the power positive thinking in a more realistic way.
Ready to go? Let’s do this!
What Positive Thinking Has Done for Me
(Psst. That’s me!)
A friend recently told me that they really admired my positive attitude. And I was taken aback. Because I had literally finished opening up about how nervous I was for an upcoming doctors appointment (everything is thankfully ok!)
I didn’t think I was being very positive at the time. But they pointed out that despite my worries and fears I still had a really positive outlook. To them it was a very inspiring balance.
I’ve been examining that conversation since, rolling it around in my mind. And I’ve realized that we often have this strange view about what a positive attitude really is. I certainly did in that moment. Being positive doesn’t mean that we are happy all the time. That’s impossible. But it does mean that we nurture our minds and train ourselves to see more possibilities (even when things aren’t so great).
It takes time! And a ton of effort. In fact, it’s more of an ongoing journey than a destination. You don’t just land in positivity town and never have to worry about negative moments again! Life isn’t like that. But working on positive thinking does have its benefits.
For me, the pay-off became very clear after that conversation. After 7 years of Graves Disease and a ton of self love and self care I can face a potential health blip and still see the possibilities. While negative emotions definitely find me in those moments (totally natural by the way) I know that I will ultimately be ok.
And don’t we all deserve to find ourselves in such a positive head-space?
Positive thinking is about far more than simply being happy or having an upbeat attitude. And it definitely doesn’t mean that we won’t experience negative emotions ever again! But it does have the potential to support our mental and physical well-being in amazing ways!
So why don’t we take a peek at what positive thinking can do and 5 ways that we can make it a priority?
How Positive Thinking Affects Your Health
I imagine it’s no surprise that positive thinking is good for you. I mean, it makes us feel good so it must be good, right? Right! But how exactly does positive thinking work it’s magic on us?
According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking:
- Increases your life span
- Reduces depression and distress
- Boosts your immune health
- Supports mental and physical well-being
- Keeps that heart happy by benefiting cardiovascular health
- Makes it easier to cope with stress
But there are a few other fun possibilities too! Let’s check them out.
Positive Thinking Helps Us See More Possibilities
One really interesting and fantastical effect of positive thinking is it’s effect on our brains ability to see possibilities. Honestly, when you’re in a positive state of mind more seems possible. And there’s an interesting reason for that.
Think about a scenario where you felt a negative emotion, like anger or fear. Have you ever noticed how focused you are on that one feeling and the situation that caused it when you’re feeling bad? So consumed by the emotions that you can barely focus on anything else, like your mind has zoomed in on the situation. And there’s a reason for that. Our brain has some pretty incredible ways to deal with negative stimuli.
If a giant bear jumped out of the woods while you were on a walk your brain would have one concern – how in god’s name do we get out of this situation alive? Laser focus baby! Your mind is not going to be dreaming about date night or thinking about what you and your bestie might do next time you hit the town… because if that bear eats you then there won’t be anything else to look forward to. So our mind zooms in on the moment and ignores everything else.
The thing is – whether you’re afraid of that bear or afraid that you’re going to get fired, your brain’s laser focus is the same. We put blinders on and zoom in on what we need to do to protect ourselves from whatever is making us afraid. And our mind reacts similarly to other negative feelings. We narrow our focus onto what’s bothering us and, hopefully, how we can fix it. It’s part of our survival instinct. (source)
But positive thinking has the opposite effect.
If negative thinking is like zooming in, positive thinking is like zooming out. When you’re in a positive state of mind your brain is focused on all of the possibilities around you. Sounds kind of bonkers? Check this out:
Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, conducted a study where she and her team looked at the awesome effects of positive thinking. Her subjects were divided into five groups and exposed to film clips that would elicit an emotional response. Afterwards each subject was asked to write down what they would do when dealing with similar emotions.
Those who were exposed to positive emotions had a lot more to say (even when compared to the control group). When subjects were in a positive state of mind they felt like they have more possible options. (source)
But wait, there’s more!
Barbara Fredrickson also looked at the effects of Loving-Kindness Meditation (which very much focuses our minds on the positive) in this study. And the results were incredibly promising.
Those who practiced this form of meditation for just an hour or so every work week saw an increase in positive feelings that stayed with them long after they had finished meditating. They were essentially training their brains to remain in a positive state for a longer period of time. Kind of awesome, eh?
Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills and Broadens Your Horizons
That’s right loves – positive thinking often extends itself into skill building territory. It’s all part of something scientists call “The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.” Basically, when you’re feeling the good feels, like joy, interest, love and contentment, you’re more likely to take part in an action that benefits your skill development. Sounds a little weird, but let’s break it down.
You know when you’re feeling super joyful and you just want to go out, have fun and celebrate life? That builds upon those social skills baby! Not to mentions, it helps to strengthen connections and even form new bonds. Totally awesome! What about when you’re in the zone, feeling incredibly interested and all you want to do is learn more? Exploring ideas flexes those sexy brain muscles!
See how positive feelings broaden your possibilities and cause you to go out and do more? Those positive feeling actions are really awesome! And they tend to help us build our skills and resources, which is pretty darn valuable!
How To Tap Into The Power of Positive Thinking
It’s all well and good to talk about how positive thinking supports your well-being. But that knowledge alone doesn’t really help us. How in goodness do we make positive thinking a bigger habit? Here are a few ideas that might help:
1. Accept that Negative Emotions are Important Too
Embracing positive thinking definitely doesn’t mean that you’re going to feel positive all the time. That’s not only unrealistic, it’s down right impossible.
All of our feelings serve a purpose, including the negative ones. And they are definitely going to pop up time and again. Ignoring your feelings or denying yourself the right to work through them doesn’t do you any good. In fact, suppressing emotions can have some pretty dire consequences, potentially increasing your risk of ailments like heart disease and even cancer (source). Kind of defeats the whole purpose right?
So if you want to make positive thinking a habit get ready to accept and work through those negative emotions as they come too. Variety is the spice of life sugar, even emotional variety.
And remember – there is absolutely no shame in seeking help when you’re working through something difficult. We never have to go it alone. Whether you need to rely on a friend or family member to talk through something or need a more neutral perspective and seek counselling, you are rocking it!
Related: How To Reduce Stress – 6 Fantastic Tips From Psychiatrists
2. Try Meditation
I doubt you’re surprised here, since one of the studies on the power of positive thinking was literally about meditating. But seriously, even if all you have are 5 minutes a day for a little meditation you are still reaping the rewards.
What’s in it for you exactly?
- Reduced Anxiety and Stress
- Improved Focus and Concentration
- Decreased Blood Pressure
- Increased Empathy and Compassion (positive vibes fo’ days!)
How exactly do you meditate?
We can dive more into the what and how of meditation right here but in short a meditation session looks a little like this:
- Find a quiet place.
- Close your eyes and take deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Choose a focus. For example:
Pay attention to your body and its surroundings, focusing on your senses and the present moment. I personally love to meditate outside and focus on the feeling on the wind on my skin.
Check in with your body and focus on how it feels.
Pay attention to your breathing. The feeling of your rib cage expanding and contracting as you fill and empty your lungs.
Or focus on a mantra of your own choosing (ex: “I love and accept myself as I am”, “I am so grateful”)
- If you notice your mind wandering be kind and patient with yourself and gently return to your focus. Allow your thoughts to arise as they are, acknowledge them and let them go.
If classic meditation isn’t for you don’t you worry! Moving meditation works well too, and you have a few options! Including going for a nice walk or even practicing yoga.
3. Practice Self Love
Guess who has one of the biggest effects on your outlook and your mood. You! Yes you darling. The way you think about yourself and the way you speak to yourself has a huge effect on how you feel. Honestly, our relationship with our self is one of the most important relationships in our lives.
I’ve said this many times, but Imma say it again – self love is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. And when you make that a priority everything else falls into place around it. If you want to make positive thinking a bigger part of your everyday life, starting with how you talk to and think about yourself is huge!
When you love yourself you make decisions with your best interests at heart. You make time for yourself because you know that you need it. Self love encourages you to work on speaking nicely to yourself because you know that you don’t deserve to be talked down to. And you feed yourself with kindness because you know that you deserve it… see how all that love leads to a ton of positivity?
It definitely isn’t always easy. Your relationship with you is the same as any relationship. It takes time, effort, patience and dedication. And some days are better than others. But the important thing is that we’re committed to loving ourselves through the good and bad times. Sickness and health and all that, right? We are stuck with ourselves forever after all. So it’s a really awesome idea to make that life long commitment a loving and happy one.
How can you work on self love?
There is no one size fits all method. It’s all about finding the right groove for you. But I find that starting with positive self talk and self care work really well.
Make time for you. You deserve the same time, dedication, love and respect that you give to those around you. In fact I find that we are less able to be present for others when we aren’t present for ourselves. Because when we don’t make our own well-being a priority we often become ill, drained or simply burnt out. And then there really isn’t much of our goodness left to go around.
Our loved ones only benefit when we love ourselves fiercely. And so does our positive thinking. It’s all win!
Related: 8 Ways to Work on Self Acceptance (And a Free Self Love Affirmations List)
4. Gratitude Journal
You know how I just mentioned making time for self care a few seconds ago? Well gratitude journaling is one of those self care activities that only takes a few minutes a day but has a humongous impact.
Dedicating 5 to 10 minutes a day to gratitude journaling:
- Leads to longer, more restful sleeps (source)
- Increases feelings of happiness and satisfaction (source)
- Potentially reduces visits to the doctor (source)
- May lower how often we get ill (source)
- Supports our overall mental and physical well-being (source)
How exactly does Gratitude Journaling help with positive thinking?
Think about this daily practice as a form of retraining your mindset. Gratitude journaling helps us learn to marvel in awe at the goodness that surrounds us. Practice makes perfect; you will find that after a while you’ll be able to carry the essence of gratitude with you throughout the day.
How do you gratitude journal?
Get yourself a journal and make a habit of writing down what you are grateful for, who you are undeniably blessed to be surrounded by and positive affirmations that make you exude joy. It may be difficult at first, but you will find that your list will grow every time you sit down to create one.
If you’re feeling lost there are awesome gratitude journals out there like this one that guide your along.
The pre-made gratitude journal provides you with a space for daily declarations of gratitude, positive affirmations and love. And it leaves tons of room to get creative, so you can even bust out your pencil crayons for extra fun! Definitely a big help if you’re just starting out and feeling completely lost.
Related: How to Practice Gratitude and Feel Awesome
There were a lot of good things that we left behind us when we entered adulthood. I mean, picking your nose was never in style, right? But play never goes out of style. No matter how old you are.
What does play do for our health exactly?
- Triggers a release of feel good endorphins
- Creates a sense of well-being
- Reduces stress
- Strengthens relationships
- Supports our mental health
Related: 4 Awesome Stress Relieving Activities From Your Childhood
I don’t know about you, but that’s a whole lot of positive goodness right there! It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is still a part of you that’s totally playful and really deserves to be indulged. And no, this doesn’t mean that you have to find some friends and play tag (although, I am 100% down if someone’s setting something up ;)). Playing is adaptable to your own likes and needs.
Whether you choose to try escape rooms, make some cool stuff with Lego, have a board game party, get lost in a video game, or anything else… schedule a little play time. It will foster a ton of goodness, I promise.
Your turn: how do you make positive thinking a priority? Would you add any advice to the list? Let me know your lovely thoughts in the comments.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: You deserve to experience moments of extreme giddiness and joy and a general sense of contentment.
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I love this! Positive thinking is such an important mindset and you’re right it does take a lot of practice. I have a natural inclination to whining (I say natural because it’s my first reaction). When I notice I’m doing it, I definitely try to snap out of it and focus on the positive (or turn it into a joke). These are all good ways to focus on the good and I definitely need to use meditation and prayer a whole heck of a lot more. Thanks for another insightful post girl <3 Jamie
You’re talking to a fellow whiner haha. Totally not alone! Especially when I’m sick; I am a such huge whiner when I don’t feel well ><;. It's something I need to look out for too. I think that's so incredibly normal, because it's all a journey, not a destination. Ultimately we'll all have our down moments and that's ok. As long as we work our way out of it and back to a better place we are so rocking it! I'm so happy that meditation and prayer work well for you. I hope you have more space for it in the future. It's really amazing how those kinds of practices quiet the mind and lift our spirits. Hoping your next meditation or prayer session leaves you feeling awesome sweetie! You deserve it.
This is great! Positivity is so important. I have never used a gratitude journal, but it sounds like a super useful tool! Thank you!
Oh I am so excited for you to discover gratitude journaling. I hope you give it a go. It’s truly such a simple self care activity but it packs a seriously awesome punch. It’s one of my faves. Let me know what you think if you try it. Thank you so much for your kind words <3.
Thanks for sharing this. I write in my gratitude journal everyday, it really makes a difference.
Isn’t gratitude journaling amazing Lisa? It’s so simple and yet it makes us feel so wonderful! Hope you have tons of goodness to write in it today <3. You deserve it!
Savvy At Home Mom
Thanks for the reminder on how important positive thinking really is and how big of an influence it can have on our lives. I really struggle with over thinking things and have a wild imagination when it comes to worse case scenarios. But I’ve noticed, and as you mentioned, negative thoughts really hinder productivity. I’m looking forward to putting some of your suggestions into practice. Thank you!
I’m so happy that this helped! And I can completely understand where you’re coming from. When it comes to my health I can definitely overthink things sometimes and dive into worst case scenario ideas when I’m worried. It happens! We aren’t perfect and we will all experience moments of negativity, which is ok! Positive thinking is more of a journey than anything and I think building that mindset helps us work through those difficult moments with far more ease. 🙂
I hope that these self care tips help you tons. Wishing you well and sending all the positive vibes I’ve got your way <3. Have a beautiful day!
This is such a well-written source of information about positive thinking! Just when I thought “Wow, now I am motivated to actually take steps” you started writing the ways on how to implement it. Thank you for this great resource!
I’m so happy that you loved it! Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope that you enjoy implementing some new self care activities into your routine and feel a boost in positivity. 🙂 Wishing you well!
Great post! Folllowed you on Twitter – love having a positive tribe on there. I agree with all of this, play is soo needed in adult life to stay young and happy at heart. Love your TMNT top too 🙂
I’m so happy you’re on board on the play train! I think it’s silly that we’re expected to let go of things like that in adulthood. We’re playful creatures and it’s so good for us to let loose and have fun!
I’m really glad to be part of your positive tribe hun! Thank you so much! And I’m also excited to have a fellow TMNT fan in the house. Who’s your fave?
Have a gorgeous day! I hope there’s an opportunity to play in there somewhere ^^.
Positive thinking is one way to a happy life. Everything starts with you. When you are negative about it even if it was a smalll task to complete it will seem difficult and you will loose the momentum of doing it. I learnt to always be positive I take a walk if I feel I’m too negative about what’s around me. This is a good lesson to learn.
Thank you so much for sharing such a great suggestion Joyce – taking a nice walk is such a wonderful way to lift your spirits. Negativity finds us sometimes and that’s ok, but when we work on making positivity a priority we are so much more able to work through the difficult things. I think it helps us develop better coping mechanisms, like knowing when to take a step back, get outside and go for a lovely walk.
I hope you get to enjoy some time in the great outdoors soon and have a beautiful, positive day hun!
I love how you incorporated meditation and loving-kindness meditation into positive thinking. And a gratitude journal is a great idea. I practice gratitude during my evening meditation, but I like the idea of writing down what I’m thankful for.
I love how you wrote about loving kindness meditation too! I felt like we were on the total same wavelength. Such a wonderful guide. Thank you so much for sharing all of your goodness. I hope that you enjoy gratitude journaling! I would love to hear your thoughts. <3 Wishing you well hun!
I do believe more than anything being outdoor and meditating can be life changing. If you have the view of nature like trees, plants and animals it can do wonders for gratitude.
I couldn’t agree more Angela! It’s amazing what the great outdoors can do for a meditation session. That’s my absolute favourite place to be when I want to meditate. Always lifts the spirit extra high! I hope that you have the opportunity to enjoy a lovely outdoor meditation session soon <3
All work and no play and all that- so true! It’s so important to mix a little relaxation in to make your day more productive and get yourself in the positive mindset.
Heck yea! You’re right on the money J! Taking the time to relax and unwind actually does make us more productive. It’s amazing! I’m so glad you brought that up. ^^ Thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts. Wishing you a wonderful weekend full of relaxation and play. We’re almost there! 🙂
This is a very informative and well written article! <3 Great work! I try to incorporate self love and care in all my Yoga classes. I try my best to incorporate this message when teaching my students <3. I will get a lot of inspiration from this! <3 Thank you for sharing <3 xxx
I LOVE that you work that into your yoga class Elly! I wish I could go to one of your classes, I bet it’s magnificent. And such a wonderful time to teach people the importance of self love and self care. Truly, that’s the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. And you are rocking it by bringing more of that into your students lives. <3
Very well written. I really like how you break it down and don’t forget to include facts and data. This is more than just a nice post. It’s informative, helpful and gives you somewhere to go after reading.
Thank you so much Dani! That really makes my day. I put a lot of time in researching every post because I want to make sure that I am as informative and well sourced as possible. It’s so easy to say anything on the internet, but I think it’s so important to do your best to be accurate. And I really encourage people to look into things too (which is another reason I love to share my sources). I’m so happy you get it! <3 Thank you very much for your kind words! Totally beaming over here 🙂
Wishing you a beautiful day full of positivity, joy and tons of delicious food :D.
Nina | Lemons and Luggage
I like that you’re saying we need to allow negative emotions as well. I think a lot of people feel like they have to be positive all the time, but, as you said, suppressing negative emotions can lead to serious issue. I think balance is key and is a perfect foundation. Once you acknowledge all your emotions you can learn how to channel them, and your other tips (especially meditation) are really helpful with that.
You are absolutely right Nina! I couldn’t agree more. When we learn to acknowledge and respect all of our emotions we’re better able to cope and work through them. It’s so counterproductive to ignore them, because we end up feeling so much worse once they burst out. And isn’t it incredible how meditation can be such a powerful tool to help us on our way? I absolutely adore it. And I am so happy you have that as a go to self care activity too!
Enjoy your next meditation session! Wishing you well. 🙂
Love this. Positive self talk takes a long time to do, but one we can do it life really does feel so much less like what’s being done TO us, rather what is being done FOR us.
And what a huge difference that perspective makes! I love this Amy. Positive self talk really does take some time and effort and is truly more of a continuous journey than a destination, but man is it ever worth it. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful perspective! <3
Lovely post! Inspiring & uplifting. Self Care is important for sure. I try to practice it daily. I need to try meditating. Thanks for the post!
I’m so happy you enjoyed it Jessica! I hope that you absolutely adore meditation. It’s been such a wonderful personal experience and I am always excited for anyone who gives it a go. Let me know what you think 🙂
Great post, so much awesome info! Thanks for sharing!
Thank so much Courtney! I’m so happy you enjoyed it :). I hope you have a wonderful day!
Awesome post! you have some really great information in this post. Big fan of positive thinking myself!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it Mary! Positive thinking is truly wonderful and so good for us. I hope today was full of tons of positive goodness and you have a wonderful night ^^.
Wow, love this! Positive thinking is just so important!
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
I couldn’t agree more Nicole! Thank you tons for sharing your kind thoughts with us <3
I find practicing gratitude a helpful way to remain positive. I teach this to my kids too to help shift their outlook when needed.
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
What a beautiful lesson to share with your kids Monica! That’s so lovely <3. Gratitude really does work wonders for our mental and physical well-being :)
Great article. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive with all the negativity around but I think gratitude and being out in nature really helps.
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
Oh yes! It can be a struggle sometimes. Totally agree Kelly. And that’s ok! It’s impossible to be 100% positive all the time. But developing a gratitude and positivity practice can help us, even through the hard times. I couldn’t agree more – gratitude and nature can do so much <3
The JOYOUS Living | Influencer (@thejoyousliving)
it really is true that watching tv and movies can illicit a lot of different emotions. well written post!
Joy at The Joyous Living
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it :). I had a wonderful time writing this one. And always love learning as I go. Researching can be so fun!
Kristine Nicole Alessandra
There is so much going on in my life lately, and most of it are health related. My days are filled with worry and anxiety. Every waking hour is filled with thoughts of “what ifs.” I know I can not find a solution to my problem if my mind is filled with negative thoughts and emotions. I will need to shift my mindset to thinking positive. It will be difficult but I have to try!
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
I can understand that Kristine! Absolutely! I’ve been there in the past and when my health issues blip in any way I certainly find myself back in those thoughts. Our brain zooms into our issues when they appear, which is why negative thinking can be all consuming. It’s our minds way to try and protect you by focusing on the issue so you can work through it. And hey, sometimes we need to be sad or worried for a bit and that’s ok. But when you’re feeling ready to, working on things like a gratitude practice and other positive mindset habits can be so helpful! Even as we continue to work through the difficult things. I’m sending you tons of love! I hope this helps you so much <3
I love optimistic thinking! It really helps you set the tone for the whole day. It also makes you decide easier.
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
I think so too Emman! Thank you so much for sharing :). A positive mindset can do so much for us!
This is an awesome post on positive thinking. Positive thinking has a great effect on our mental health. Try to eschew negative things in life and give self love.
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
I’m so happy you enjoyed it Sarah! Thank you :). A little positivity can go a heck of a long way!
i believe in positive thinking because it removes/sets aside all the unnecessary thoughts that prohibit you from moving forward. love this!
cha @ littlemisadvencha.com
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
It can really be so helpful! And creating a little gratitude and positivity practice can be such a huge help <3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Cha!
Simply healthy vegan
This post is great!! Positive thinking is so powerful. I try and start each morning with a positive thought and then im bound to have a fabulous day 🙂
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
What a wonderful way to start your morning :). I love that! Thank you for sharing with us Emily. A little positivity can go a heck of a long way <3
I love this!!! This really made me think about how I need to be more positive, it would make me a happier person for sure!
Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem
I’m so happy to hear that Brianna! I hope you have an incredibly time working on positive thinking. Sending tons of love your way 🙂