When I think of my friends who have the most positive outlook on life the following quote comes to mind: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.” -Unknown. The happiest of people aren’t the ones who collect the most toys, have the most friends, or who have never had life struggles like illness or the loss of loved one. They are the ones who choose gratefulness. They still experience loss, sadness, and disappointment but their view on life allows them to see the beauty in the end.
Barbara Fredrickson is a positive psychology researcher who has spent years researching how positive thinking impacts life skills. Negative thoughts and emotions narrow your mind. You are already in a position of not being able to see other options. Your mind only sees the problem, not the solutions and different outcomes. Negative emotions like fear, anger, and stress can consume you.
Positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love allow you to see the potential in situations and people. Your mind is open to the options around you. Fredrickson has a theory called “broaden and build.” Positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and opens your mind, which in turn, allows you to build new skills that can be valuable in other areas of your life. You learn to appreciate the big picture in life.
So how do you become a more positive thinking human? First you have to make the choice to bring more joy into your life. Everyday try to do something that gives you joy, contentment and love.
* Take up a new hobby, do an art project, read, spend time with uplifting people.
* Meditate – it helps create a habit of mindfulness which leads to purpose in life and a more
* Have gratitude. Begin or end each day by listing what went right, what/who you are thankful for,
activities that brought you joy.
* Play/have fun. Call a good friend, have lunch or dinner with friends, play with a dog, try a new
exercise, go for a walk.
Once you find ways to build happiness and positive emotions you will find you have less stress. Your mind will open up to the possibilities around you, not the pitfalls.
“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.” -Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking