“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7). Our thoughts affect our reality; and people who consistently cultivate positive thoughts manifest positive realities.
We have a choice about what we think about; and so we have a choice about whether we lead predominantly positive or negative lives.
If you find yourself constantly mired in negativity and are unsure how to change it, realize that little by little, you can break negative thought processes by replacing unwanted thoughts with better-feeling ones every time you become aware of them.
Often times, this feels like an impossible task. Many of us feel negative so much of the time that it starts to feel like a way of life. But with some effort, no matter what our age, we can change our habits of thinking.
When we persistently switch negative thoughts for positive ones, positive thinking becomes a habit; and once positive thinking is firmly rooted into our lives, it can be sustained with less effort.
How do we achieve this? Through practice! Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the negative aspects of your life. If there’s something you don’t like about your life, don’t talk about it the way it is. Focus on seeing it and talking about it the way you’d like it to be and pretty soon, you can transform any negative situation.
As the Bible reminds us, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). Transform your life by renewing your mind with positive thoughts; and visualizing your ideal life.
To help you do that, I’ve devised a five-step plan anchored around what I call the ‘Positivity Diet.’
This emotional detox entails consistently abstaining from negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. Many of the rituals we embrace in our daily lives encourage a negative mindset – from the television programmes we watch; to our interactions with certain friends, we feel bad most of the time. You can change this by doing the following.
One – for forty days and forty nights, adopt a negativity fast. Don’t entertain any negativity. Monitor your feelings; and anytime you feel bad, ask yourself, what am I thinking right now? Then replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.
Watch your conversations with friends too- if you have nothing positive to say, don’t say anything! Pretty soon, your mind will force you to look for something positive to say in order to be able to engage with other people.
I recently began my own Positivity Diet along with a group of friends and without exception, the first week proved to be the most challenging. The big reason for that is, contrary to what we might expect, pain and negative emotions activate the reward centers of the brain, causing unconscious addiction to negative emotions. Just like cocaine or other addictive drugs cause a self-reinforcing addictive circuit in the brain, so do negative emotions; and that’s why changing our negative thought patterns can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.
But whatever our starting point, we can shift the balance of our thoughts from the negative to the positive. Persistence is key. As Aristotle put it, “Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” If you keep up with this exercise, you’ll see a difference in your habits of thought within a relatively short period of time.
We’ll never reach a point where we won’t need to be diligent about our choice of thought, because most people around us are determined to point out every pocket of despair. But if we consistently choose to focus our attention on the positive, it gets easier and easier to do so.
No matter how difficult it feels at first, “…do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Two ÔÇô Meditate daily. As Blaise Pascal noted, “all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” For fifteen minutes every day, empty your mind of all thought; it’s one of the best ways to train ourselves to focus positively. Meditation also allows us to let go of feelings of resistance; and detach from things we’re desperate to attain. Paradoxically, when we do this, we hasten the arrival of the things we want into our lives.
Three ÔÇô Read motivational material. In the same way that when we’re on a physical diet, we’re careful about what we feed our bodies, so too must we become more diligent about what we feed our minds. Find inspiring books or CDs to nourish your soul.
Four ÔÇô keep an appreciation journal. Each day, note down at least three things that you feel grateful for. Appreciation amplifies our positive energy; and brings even more things to appreciate into our lives.
Five – begin a physical exercise routine. Exercise has a positive effect on our psyche. It builds our confidence and self-esteem. Positive psychologists who’ve examined the link between physical activity and the mind also draw a link between psychological well-being and regular physical activity.
Renew your mind by beginning your own Positivity Diet; and adopting the practices that feel most meaningful to you. However challenging it may be at first, don’t give up! Remember, many of us have been forming negative mindsets over a long period of time and it takes time to change that.
We were made in the image of God; and a Godly mindset is already within us. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7).
This week, reclaim your gift of a sound mind.
*Primrose Oteng is a Master of Applied Positive Psychology and the Founder of the Positive Peace Project, an organization dedicated to creating positive change through personal empowerment. For more information regarding how we can help you, please contact HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]”[email protected]