10 Rules for Learning to Think Positively and Live a Happy Life

Training your brain to focus on the positive is one of the best ways to tackle the misery when negative thoughts drag you down. Here are ten ways to programme a positive mind and create happiness in your life.

1. Actively Think Positive Thoughts

Sounds obvious, right? But it’s much easier said than done. Yet research indicates that actively thinking positive thoughts can make you around 30% more effective and creative. So enjoy good moments by realising them for what they are – stop and think, “I’m so happy because…”

This takes practice, but over time you’ll start to interpret the world differently.

2. Turn Around Negative Thoughts

Negative thinking can overwhelm you, especially when you’re depressed or anxious. It’s too easy to get stuck in negative mind spirals and think that your current state is permanent. 

Adding the word “but” to negative thoughts can help you to stop catastrophising. You could think: “I’m upset now, but I’m going to see my best friend later.” “I’m out of shape, but I can go for a walk.” 

Practice it on a good day when a negative thought creeps in to ensure you have this strategy to hand during challenging moments.

3. Spend Time With Positive People

Some people are dementors. They suck the joy from situations and leave you feeling drained when you spend any time in their company. Avoid these people. Instead, spend time with positive friends and family members. It’s so much easier to have positive thoughts when you’re surrounded by positive people.

4. Contribute to the Happiness of Others

There’s no better way to feel positive about yourself and grateful for all you have than to give back somehow. It could be a favour for a friend, help in your local community, or volunteering for a charity.

5. Read Positive Materials

Reading is my solution for most of life’s situations, so feel free to ignore this one! But reading really is one of the best ways to gain empathy and open-mindedness. There’s no shortage of material to help you with positive thinking, and Matt Haig’s books are an endless source of positivity to me. Instead of doomscrolling through social media, try starting or ending your day with some positive reading material.

6. Be Kind to Yourself

Your inner voice is powerful. Make it a kind one. And don’t compare yourself to others, only to your previous self. You’re an amazing person, and you’re becoming better each day. That’s what matters. Don’t allow your inner voice to say anything to you that you wouldn’t say to the person you love most.

7. Have Goals

The most positive life is one lived with purpose. It doesn’t matter to anyone but you what your goals are, but make sure there’s something to keep you motivated and make each day count. And do allow yourself the big goals and dreams as well. We all need those dreams!

8. Practise Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present and accepting it without judgement. When you pay attention to your senses, you actively send positive messages to your mind and lower your stress levels. I do this by spending time in nature and through nature photography. Some people choose to meditate or recite positive affirmations.

9. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Practice gratitude to feel gratitude. Write down what you’re grateful for first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. You can consult the list whenever you need a pick-me-up if the day’s not going well. You can use many apps such as Daylio to help with this, or share your thoughts on social media if it suits you. Try it – it’s a potent tool.

10. Form Good Personal Habits

Take good care of yourself in the ways you know can make a difference. Eat healthily and drink lots of water. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise and feel the benefit of those endorphins. And make time for rest and relaxation in any form that suits you. Positive habits help with a positive mindset.

Take Good Care of Yourself

Depression and anxiety creep up unannounced, and you might not notice negative thought spirals until it’s too late. Try to practise as many of these habits as possible, and see what helps you most. If you have any tips for keeping a positive mindset, please do share them!

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