Is it Positive Thinking or Just Denial?

Whenever I tell people about the power of positive thinking, some of them get the impression that “positive thinking” means pretending to be happy even if you’re not. Let’s clear up that misconception right now: positive thinking is NOT synonymous with denial.

Positive thinking doesn’t mean denying that the negative stuff exists. It doesn’t mean pretending that the negative stuff doesn’t bother you. It doesn’t mean pasting on a fake smile when you really feel like frowning.

Positive thinking simply means making the conscious choice to focus on things that make you happy, rather than obsess about the things that don’t.

We all have negativity in our lives. We all have our personal challenges, fears, disappointments, and stressors. We all have things we’d like to improve about our lives.

But we also have plenty of wonderful things in our lives and in the world around us that we take for granted because we’re too busy complaining about the other stuff.

When it comes right down to it, your attitude is simply a habit, whether positive or negative. You are used to thinking about things in a certain way, so you continue doing that – even if it doesn’t serve you and makes you miserable.

Changing your attitude from negative to positive can create so many wonderful changes in your life, including stress reduction, easier healing, a greater sense of well-being, better relationships, better quality of sleep, greater success in whatever you do, and much more.

Even better, you don’t have to overhaul your entire attitude in one day to reap the benefits of a positive thinking practice. You simply have to start with one little thought at a time.

If you’re ready to start practicing the power of positive thinking more consciously in your own life, here are a few easy ways to start:

Don’t complain; praise!

When you catch yourself starting to complain about someone or something, immediately switch gears and think about someone or something you can praise instead. Complaining only sets you up to notice more things to complain about. Praising sets you up to notice more wonderful things to praise.

Turn fear into love.

If you get caught up in fearful thoughts, immediately turn them around by focusing on people and things you love. Also be sure to spend a few seconds thinking about WHY you love them. This gets positive, soothing energy flowing and moves you into a much more expanded, uplifted state of mind, which makes those fearful thoughts seem a lot less scary.

Swap despair for gratitude.

When things aren’t working out for you, it’s easy to feel frustrated and disappointed, which casts a dark shadow over your entire life. A good way to get out from under this cloud is to focus on things you feel grateful for. Run through the many blessings in your life, no matter how small and insignificant they may be. Within minutes, you’ll start realizing how blessed you are and how much you truly have to be grateful for. Yes, the frustration might still be there, but it will be far less pervasive than it seemed at first.

Be deliberately optimistic.

If you tend to be very focused on all of the things that could or will go wrong, start deliberately flexing your optimism muscles every chance you get. When you catch yourself saying something like, “This meeting is going to be a disaster” – stop right there and replace that thought with a more optimistic outlook: “What if this meeting could go beautifully? I like that idea!”

A special note about optimism: Some people avoid being optimistic because they’re afraid they’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t work out the way they hope. The key to avoiding disappointment is to stay relaxed and detached about the outcome. Make a firm decision to be optimistic, but remind yourself that you can handle any outcome, no matter what happens.

These are very simple yet effective things you can do to practice positive thinking on a daily basis. Just keep making a conscious decision to set aside negativity for awhile and focus on something better.

If you do this repeatedly, you’ll start noticing that not only do you feel better, but everything in your life starts to seem a little less “blah” and a little more “ahhh.” And the effects get stronger the more consistently you work on it.

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