You may or may not recognize that you regularly think negative thoughts. In fact, the average adult has between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. If these thoughts are all negative, it can have a huge impact on your life.
Either way, learning to identify the various types of thoughts will put you in a much more powerful position for changing them.
Use this checklist as a handy guide to determine whether or not you are a negative thinker!
☐ You think about how things “always” happen in a negative way. This is generalization. e.g. “I always mess up”, “I never finish my work on time”.
☐ You look at things negatively if they aren’t 100% perfect. This is perfectionism.
☐ You imagine how every situation – even good ones – can go wrong. This is catastrophic thinking.
☐ You often use the word “should”. It reinforces the idea that everything has a fixed outcome. e.g. “I should do this because someone said that”, “I shouldn’t have bothered”.
☐ You come up with excuses for positive praise. You’re assuming that what people say is untrue! e.g. “They are only saying that to be nice to my face”
☐ You give your looks, your qualities and your actions negative labels.
☐ Your thoughts focus on pain instead of pleasure. This reinforces the negative thought. e.g. “I don’t want to be sick” instead of “I want to be healthy”.
☐ You assume you know what people are thinking. This is mind reading, and it doesn’t work! e.g. “Everyone thinks I look stupid”
☐ You jump to conclusions when it comes to people and events.
☐ You turn random events into personal experiences, assuming you have control over things.
☐ You have a “magical mindset” and are upset that some positive thoughts don’t create change.
☐ You constantly seek approval from others for your own self-worth.
Ok, so how did you go? Do you consider yourself a negative thinker or a positive thinker?
Now I bet you’ve heard this saying before: “Is your glass half empty or half full”?
Well, it will benefit you to know that a glass half full is more beneficial to you than the opposite. The Dalai Lama once said, “In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.”
From improving your brain function, reducing stress and improving your health, being positive does make a difference. It is proven that positive thoughts and decisions affect you mentally, physically and emotionally. When all of these things work together, you can live an overall positive life.
According to Psychology Today, being positive “stimulates the growth of nerve connections, improves cognition by increasing mental productivity, improves your ability to analyze and think, affects your view of your surroundings, increases attentiveness and leads to more happy thoughts”. In other words, thinking positive affects your entire brain function.
If you could change your thought process in order to see the positive side of things instead of the negative, you could retrain your brain to think this way. Psychology Today makes a point in saying, “You are what you think you are, and all of your actions proceed from thought.
Your inner thoughts will always be reflected in your outer circumstances, because self-generated changes in your life are always preceded by changes in the way you think about something.” The way you think changes things from the inside out. This includes your physical functions and your emotional state.
As stated before, what we think affects our physical bodies.
But just how serious is being positive when it comes to our bodies?
Here are some physical manifestations of negative thoughts and your “emotional health being out of balance”:
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Extreme tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- And there are many more.
In contrast, positive thinking affects your body as well. According to Mayo Clinic, positive thinking may provide these health benefits:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
As you can see, there are benefits to your body for staying positive. By seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, you can potentially save yourself from life threatening health issues.
How To Think Positive
All of these benefits start as soon as you decide to change your thinking. So how exactly do you start to think positive? At first, it may prove to be difficult to remember when a crisis strikes or when negative situations happen, to think positive.
You can start by:
- Creating positive affirmations
Make a list of some things you excel at or some things you have achieved. Say these things aloud when negativity strikes. Find some of your favorite positive quotes and keep them close by. Perhaps just say, “Think positive” aloud. Whatever works for you, do it.
- Dancing to upbeat music
There is power in music. Put on your favorite upbeat song and dance. Channel the negative energy into movement and exercise.
- Creating a mantra
Sort of like a positive affirmation, a mantra is a quote that you create to remind yourself of a positive thing in your life or something you have done. A mantra is a word or a phrase you repeat to bring yourself back down to earth.
Sometimes it is difficult to be positive. However, perhaps the most effective method is to remember the effects on your mind and your body. When stress rises or anxiety creeps in, remember that this negativity is causing health issues that may be completely unknown to you. Change your life by changing your mind. Afterall, you only get one chance at life, so make it an enjoyable and positive experience because YOU are worth it.