When life gets too much many of us are left feeling negative and wondering if we are naturally pessimistic. If you worry about not thinking positively you are certainly not alone. Identifying that you are prone to looking at your life negatively is the first step in letting go and finding a much happier and more positive version of yourself.
We live in a frantic modern world where negative thinking is extremely common yet can make you feel very alone. Whilst we’re trying to achieve more and more in a fast-paced and changing world, many of us are left feeling far from optimistic. It’s easy to imagine the worst case scenario or to feel that anything less than perfect is a failure. It’s common to feel an excessive need for approval or as if dwelling on pain will achieve something.
However, it is possible to notice your thought patterns and change your attitude. Repeated studies have found that optimists are more popular, have better relationships and even live longer. The more optimistic you are, the better your life will be.
Happiness expert Paul Dolan shares his top tips on how to feel more upbeat and transform yourself into a positive thinker
1. When the worst happens…
You can handle whatever happens better than you think. When we worry over worst-case scenarios and ‘what ifs’ we overlook a key aspect of human nature – our inbuilt survival instinct. You do have an innate ability to adapt to whatever life throws at you so don’t forget that and believe in yourself.
When we imagine the worst happening we think we’ll hit rock bottom and stay there forever. In fact we’ll feel terrible for a while, adapt and then find answers and ways to move forward. You are stronger than you know.
2. Money doesn’t bring happiness…
Many of us are pessimistic because of a gloomy financial outlook but if happiness is your goal you need less money than you think. Think of it like eating cake – the first slice makes you feel great. The second is an added bonus. An infinite amount of slices will not carry the hit.
Try to pay more attention to the simple things that tend to make us happier – social contact, spending time with people you like and love and paying attention to the moment.
3. We’re so connected…
A huge source of negative thinking is feelings of loneliness but thanks to modern technology its never been eaiser to stay in touch. If you are feeling isolated or alone, you don’t need to let it defeat you.
Take the next step to connect, whether that means becoming more adept with the technology you have or getting a smartphone. You can find like-minded people, access support or share your ideas, interests and photographs. Using technology as a facilitator of personal contact, not a substitute, will help you think more positively.
4. Healthy body, healthy mind…
You may want to reach for the chocolate to comfort yourself in moments of negativity. When friends juiced kale for breakfast, you opted for coffee and buttered toast. But whatever your age, it isn’t too late to start a healthier lifestyle.
Whether it’s adding some more veg into your diet or taking up a new exercise routine, healthy eating and any increase in physical activity will offset mental decline and protect against heart disease and cancers whilst making you feel much happier.
5. Learn from your setbacks…
Each setback is a learning opportunity and if you can embrace this and conquer your fear of failure then you’ll have every reason for optimism.
It’s natural in life for things not to work out as planned but if you can turn, ‘it’s my fault, I’m giving up’ into ‘it wasn’t my fault, I’ll learn from it and try again’ then you will be a much happier person. Seeing failure as a step in the right direction puts everyone on the path to success.
6. Understand your emotions…
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We instinctively feel negative if we experience certain related emotions such as guilt, anger or anxiety, when we in fact should recognise these as important human feelings that can be a force for good. Guilt can notify us when we harm others – it’s there to tell us we could and should do better. Anger can fuel your motivation to address a situation. Anxiety is normal – and essential. It’s an early warning signal alerting us to situations with risks to consider.