7 Exercises to Harness the Power of Positive Thinking

by Gaute H. October 07, 2022 3 min read

Happy people jumping in the air

Why is positive thinking important? Positive thinking is important because it can have a beneficial impact on both physical and mental well-being. People who maintain a more positive outlook on life cope better with stress, have better immunity, and live longer.

Try these research-backed exercises for positive thinking!

1. Practice positive affirmations

Positive daily affirmations are great for getting into a positive state of mind. Positive affirmations are statements you repeat to yourself every day that make you feel good about yourself.

For instance, if you are struggling with low self-esteem, you can say "I am confident" to yourself in the mirror multiple times. This could be before you go to bed or first thing in the morning, or whenever you feel like giving yourself a positive boost.

When you keep saying these positive affirmations, you are reinforcing and reminding yourself of the positive statements, and over time believe in them more and more until they become internalized.

2. Cognitive reappraisal exercise

Cognitive reappraisal is the act of reframing a situation to see it in a more positive light. For example, if you're upset that you're sick and have to stay in bed, be thankful that this is the perfect opportunity to read that book you've been dying to read.

There are a few different ways you can practice cognitive reappraisal. One is to watch a movie or TV show. Practice finding the good in the difficult scenarios or think about the advice that you would give the characters to make themselves feel better.

After practicing cognitive reappraisal, try to apply the technique to your own life. Whenever there's a difficult situation in your life, think about how it can also have some benefits or teach you important lessons.

3. Smile, even when you don't feel like it

Just as your thoughts can affect your mental state, so can your actions. Smiling even when you feel unhappy is a quick way to send your brain a positive signal. This is true despite what negative thoughts you have at the moment.

This simple act has been extensively supported by research and is a quick way to trick your mind into a positive state of mind. If you want to take it a step further, consider going out of your way to do something nice for someone else. The positive actions you do will trigger satisfaction and can snap you out of your negative mindset.

4. Take time to breathe

Life can get overwhelming at times. As stress levels are rising, negative thoughts may creep in. Next thing you know, you are moody towards everyone.

In overwhelming situations, it is helpful to take a few minutes to only focus on breathing. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and focus solely on your breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, then hold for 4 seconds, and slowly breathe out for four more seconds. Repeaet this a few times, and you will experience that you slowly calm down and relax.

5. Accept your past

The past has happened and there is nothing you do today that can change that. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can move on and focus on the present. That is a lot easier said than done of course. But you must try.

Stop allowing the past to define who you are today, and start allowing today and tomorrow to write the new chapter of your life. Fully embrace the "Shit happens" attitude and move on.

6. Write a gratitude journal

Gratitude is immensly powerful. It allows you to appreciate the people and experiences in your life. A gratitude journal involves writing daily or weekly entries in a diary of things you are grateful for.

Don't limit yourself to be thankful for only the good things, appreciate the challenges and difficulties in your life as well. After all, they each presented a learning opportunity for you and shaped you to the person you are today.

7. Surround yourself with positive people

This is more of a lifestyle adjustment than a positive thinking exercise, but it is still an important one. A common saying is that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If these people are negative, it is likely that you will absorb this mental state as well.

Try to surround yourself with happy, inspiring people, and you'll see how their good attitude and optimism rub off on you!

Gaute H.
Gaute H.

Founder of Oceanness. Enjoys the ocean, hanging out with friends, and exploring the world. Favorite ocean animal: Dolphins.

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