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How to Think Positive and Reprogram Your Mind to Stay Positive

When the world is going haywire, it’s easy to have negative thoughts, but learning how to think positive in those situations can change your life.

How To Think Positive

Negative thoughts are a poison to our minds and our lives. They seep in, to ruin our days and make us feel down. When we let negative thoughts take over, we become more negative people overall. We complain more, we don’t see the good in people, and we can even become withdrawn. Learning how to think positive isn’t about being unrealistic or avoiding the truth. It is about seeing the good parts of life and enjoying them. 

Learning how to think positive is about knowing the negatives of reality and choosing to focus on the better things. 

Thinking positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time, or that there is anything wrong with feeling down once in a while. It means that you can deal with the bad stuff by growing instead of dwelling.

[Read: How to hone and increase your positive emotions in a negative world]

How to stop thinking negative and learn to reprogram your mind

Learning how to think positive and stop thinking negative is not something you can just decide to do on a whim. It takes practice and patience to change the way you think about things. 

You need to be able to train yourself to go from your norm of negative thoughts to putting a positive spin on it.

Whether the state of your country, the world, the government, or your personal life, feels on the fritz, it is easy to fall into a rut of negative thinking. A breakup or a bad day at work or even bad weather can make your whole day or even whole week feel awful.

It is okay to feel bad about bad things, but that doesn’t mean you have to think negative. You can stop thinking negative and still feel your feelings. [Read: 13 powerful rules of life for a happy, positive and meaningful life]

How to stop negative thinking from seeping into your life

Here’s an example. When you’re driving and someone cuts you off or is driving unbearably slow, your first reaction may be to get annoyed. That is okay.

But, instead of letting that momentary annoyance invade your thoughts, let it roll over you. You can feel annoyed. But don’t think negatively. 

Maybe it is a student driver or someone in a rush to tell someone they love them. Or maybe it is someone being dangerous. Either way, this one small annoyance shouldn’t impact your mood for the rest of the day.

Why should a total stranger’s actions have power over your thoughts? Do you want to let this one moment of bad driving make you impatient for the rest of the day? Is it worth being in a bad mood and taking every little inconvenience and letting it get to you? [Read: How to be chill and learn to live happier as a result]

Do you want to go home in a bad mood and impact your loved ones with the same negative feelings? Will that make your day better? No, of course not.

Instead, let the immediate negative thought happen, acknowledge it, and let it go, so you can move on with your day. Practicing that method will help you enjoy your day more whether you have exciting plans or are running errands. 

Why is it important to stop thinking negative in your daily life

If you want to learn how to think positive, learning how to stop thinking negative first will boost your mood and that of those around you. You can now go forward from that one lousy interaction to being polite to the person who bagged your groceries, to helping someone with the door, and picking up your partner’s favorite treat because you just felt like it. [Read: How to be a free spirit and learn to truly experience the flow of life]

Letting one negative moment lead to a negative thought that makes waiting in line worse, sitting in traffic worse, and then makes the good parts of your day feel less important simply is not worth it. 

This isn’t always easy, but next time you have a small inconvenience, try to acknowledge it for what it is and let it pass over you. Start with small things like traffic or a long line at the bank. 

From there, once you notice yourself making a habit of this practice, you can implement it into larger moments like a fight with your partner, a fender bender, or even being on hold with customer service. This can grow to your ability to stop thinking negative about other people’s intentions, your own abilities, and more. 

Small practices like this where you take control of the way you think about things can help you manage hard situations with less turmoil. Knowing you can control your thoughts in negative situations will help you move on from breakups or other disappointments in life. Learning how to stop thinking negative is a great way to start thinking positive. [Read: How to smile more often – 6 baby steps that can change your life forever]

How to think positive in a negative situation 

Negative situations can be anything from an awkward conversation with an acquaintance to a stressful job or difficult home life. These negative situations can make thinking positive feel impossible. 

Whether your situation is temporary or long-term, it can be hard to flip your thinking into something positive. 

Although getting out of a bad situation would be my first piece of advice, sometimes that isn’t an option. Sometimes the only thing you can do is navigate a negative situation with positive thinking. [Read: 16 life strategies to get your shit together and stop staying stuck]

There are some ways to make a negative situation less taxing and learning how to think positive is one of those. 

But, how do you do that? 

1. Acknowledge your situation for what it is

Whether your negative situation is long-term or not, take time to be realistic. Sometimes something short-term can feel worse than it is. But when you realize it isn’t forever, it can help you think more positively. 

2. Have a good support system

No matter what your situation is, talking about it and getting out your frustrations is helpful. Having a good support system or friends, family members, or even coworkers is a great way to remind you that you aren’t alone. [Read: The best lesson you can ever learn – Why you need to surround yourself only with positive people]

3. Be actively grateful

Take time throughout your day to be actively grateful. This can be different for everyone. Maybe for you, it means writing down five things in your life you’re grateful for. Or perhaps it means saying thank you to your assistant, the person that makes your coffee, or someone who held the elevator for you. 

Taking time to acknowledge the big and little positives in your life can change your focus.

4. Get fresh air

Getting time outside can change your perspective. Getting fresh air and just experiencing the world on a different scale can change your mood. Eat your lunch outside or just walk around your yard. A simple change of scenery can change your mood from negative to positive.

5. Get enough rest

This can be hard to do when you are stressed and feeling negative. But ensuring your body is getting the rest it needs is so important. If you’re struggling with something and feel like you can’t defeat negative thoughts, a lack of sleep can make that worse.

Try to list what you’re grateful for before going to sleep so those are your final thoughts at night. [Read: How to be grateful – 15 authentic ways to appreciate and express it]

6. Add positivity to others’ lives

Sometimes helping ourselves is a lot harder than helping others. When you’re feeling negative about something and can’t seem to shake those feelings, turn someone else’s day into a positive. Surprise your coworkers with coffee. Reach out to a friend. Compliment a stranger on their outfit or hair. These little things can make someone’s day, and knowing you helped make them feel more positive will, in turn, help you as well. [Read: Pay it forward – 20 positive ways to create a chain of goodwill]

7. Work on your passion

If you are stuck in a dead end job that gives you nothing but negative thoughts, take time for your passion until you can change jobs. If your passion is music or art or cooking, take time to focus on those things that make you happy and give you purpose. 

One part of your life may not be positive, and we may never feel positive about everything, but remember you do have something positive to focus on. 

8. Make a plan

Make a plan to get out of that situation. Having a goal and reaching towards that can be motivating. It is also encouraging to know that your negative situation has a positive end result. If you save up for 6 months, can you leave your job to follow your dream? If you hate your apartment and landlord, what can you do to get out of your lease? Control what you have control over. [Read: I don’t know what to do with my life – The voice to find your way]

9. Adjust to changes

Be realistic with your plans. Plans are great but don’t always go how we expected. Learn to handle those changes. Maybe you were hoping to leave your job in 3 months but now your hours were cut. Can you make it work in 4 months, or can you do something on the side to make your original plan viable?

10. Accept what is out of your control

This is one of the best ways know how to think positive when you’re in a negative situation. Sometimes, things are out of our control. We may not like a coworker or get annoyed how our roommate does something, but there is only so much you can do in certain situations.

You cannot change other people. Sometimes, you have to face negative things and accept them for what they are. It is up to you to let some negative things affect your life the way they are. Accepting that something is out of your control and working on your response, and things that you can control, will keep you positive. [Read: 20 positive personality traits that can change your life forever]

How to maintain a positive outlook

It is one thing to practice thinking positive and actually incorporating those practices into your everyday life. Even once it becomes a norm for you to let negative things slide and move forward more positively, some days are just too much. And that’s okay. 

It is impossible to just always be positive. There will be bad days, but they are temporary. Maintaining a positive outlook isn’t about forcing a smile or always having something good to say about everything. 

Being positive is about not letting the negative stuff take over. Feel the bad feelings. Let them in. It is okay to feel hurt and down. It is just important that those are not your only feelings and those aren’t the thoughts that control you. 

You want to enjoy life. You know that thinking positive makes your day better and helps you go to sleep feeling good about the day. That is the motivation to keep thinking positive, even when it’s hard. [Read: How being more positive can dramatically increase the quality of your life]

Say you had a bad week and you’ve broken away from thinking positive for a while. It can be hard to get back into your old pattern of positive thinking. We all have things that bring us down. But when this happens, think about this bad week and what made it feel so negative. Acknowledge what happened and how it affected you. Then think about the upcoming week. You want to enjoy it and feel better. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can change how you react to it. 

Take time to be grateful for the good parts of that negative time. Did you learn something? Were you able to rest? Did you reconnect with an old friend? Did you watch a good movie? Did you try a new restaurant or recipe? Focus on the good and use that energy to move forward. [Read: 27 powerful ways to focus on yourself and create your own sunshine]

What positive thinking can do for you

If it wasn’t already clear, positive thinking isn’t just about being happier and complaining less. Positive thinking can move you forward in life. Positive thinking can enrich your life through growth in confidence, stronger trust in others, and boldness in your efforts. 

Learning how to think positive in your everyday life and committing to that can improve your career, your personal life, and your self-esteem.

Thinking positive about small things like inconveniences and large things like your future, inspires you to move forward and grow from trying times instead of letting negative times lead you to negative thoughts. 

Being able to know how to think positive when everything seems negative is a life skill you’ll be grateful you learned when you did. Start small, and with a few of these tips, you’ll start to feel better about your life with each passing day.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...