“Positive thinking is more than just a tagline. It changes the way we behave. And I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me better, but it also makes those around me better.”
Positive thinking and living in the present moment go hand-in-hand. In fact, it’s cyclical – positive thinking helps you become more present, and being present helps you become more positive! We can increase our positive thoughts and feelings in four main areas of our lives: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Here are 19 very simple, actionable ways that you can cultivate positive thinking and become more present in your life, starting right this minute!
1. Make sure that you’re not only getting the proper amount of sleep but that the quality of your sleep is adequate as well.
For instance, sleep occurs best in a darkened, quiet, cool room. If noise is a problem for you, a white noise or nature sounds machine may help. Room darkening blinds or shades will also help you fall asleep and stay asleep. And sleeping on the proper mattress for your body and sleep style is crucial. Try performing some deep-breathing exercises before falling asleep to ensure you enjoy deep, restorative sleep.
2. Whether it’s working in your garden for an hour a day or running on a treadmill, exercise is a necessity of living a good life.
When you exercise, your body is forced to be present at the moment. And when you exert yourself, your brain releases “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins that help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. When you get enough daily exercise, you’ll feel better overall, enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and sleep better at night. If you don’t currently exercise, start small with a walk around the block each day. Build up from there. And exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym every day, though many people enjoy that routine. Find something you enjoy like gardening, hiking, or kayaking, and just do it!
3. The importance of what you put into your body just can’t be understated.
If you are what you eat, don’t fill yourself up with pesticide and chemical-laden fruits and vegetables, and simple carbohydrates with little to no nutritional value. Eat the best quality food you can afford. Try to cut down (or eliminate) simple carbohydrates such as sugar, pasta, white bread, and rice. Eat a variety of vegetables each day but watch your fruit consumption, because many varieties can be high in sugar. Reduce dairy intake to a minimum. And eat very few processed foods. A whole-food diet filled with lean meat, chicken, fish, salads, and vegetables will provide your body with just the nutrition it needs to foster a great body and a great mind.
4. Learn to listen to what your body is telling you.
You might be surprised to know that a lot of physical discomforts can be rooted in emotional issues. Clear up those issues, and the physical symptoms mysteriously disappear! If you’re not well-versed in interpreting what your body is telling you, that’s okay. You can learn this skill, and you begin by just being quiet, sitting, and feeling. It may help you to close your eyes and block out any distractions. How do you physically feel? It might help to keep a journal on your body feelings if you suffer from a lot of different undiagnosed aches and pains. Listen carefully to how your body responds to physical movement, food and drink, and emotion.
5. Learn diaphragmatic breathing.
While sitting or ideally lying down, place one hand on your chest, and one hand on your belly. As you breathe in deeply, the only hand that should move up and down is the hand on your stomach. This is called diaphragmatic breathing, and it has many benefits, not the least of which is that it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your entire body relax. If you find the hand on your chest moving when you breathe, this is called stress breathing. You’re not meant to breathe into your chest unless you are in a fight-or-flight situation. But because of the high-stress levels that are prevalent today, this is how many people breath all the time. Take some time to learn diaphragmatic breathing – especially useful if you practice it in bed before falling asleep for the night.
6. Make a point to end worrying in your life.
If you’re worried about something you have zero control over, you are only wasting your valuable mental energy. If you’re worried about something that you do have control over, then stop worrying and start doing something about it.
7. Do you have problems making decisions?
Use lists! List the pros and cons of each problem you have. List the possible solutions. Looking at the benefits and drawbacks in a more global sense of the problem at hand, make a decision as to the solution. Aim to be more decisive using these lists.
8. Put an end to multitasking in your life.
When you do more than one thing at a time, nothing gets done exactly as it should – as it would have if you focused solely on the task at hand. And focusing on one thing helps you cultivate mindfulness, which is so rewarding in and of itself. In the morning or even the night before, write down a list of the three most important things you need to do during the day. Start on the first task, eliminate distractions, and get it done. Then take a short break before moving on to task number two. You’ll find that not only will you get the three tasks done more quickly, but you’ll have done the best job you can do because you were focused and mindful. A bonus to this technique is that by the time the three tasks are done, you’ve built up momentum enough to begin another list of three tasks!
9. Stop judging and stop assuming.
When you judge, or assume, you create a story around a situation that you may know nothing about. This is a harmful habit that only serves to grow more negativity in your life. Consider someone or some situation that you’ve recently judged. Consider that the reality of the situation isn’t at all what you judged it to be. Be kind, be compassionate, love unconditionally, and your mental health will be so much stronger.
10. Be aware of the stories you tell yourself.
This is related to number 9 above. Often, we have created stories in our consciousness around certain situations – ours or others – that may have absolutely no basis in reality. That story may just be a habit of our thinking. Analyze these stories to search for truth in them, and if there is none, discard them as they have no use for you. “Clearing out” your consciousness in this way opens up lots of room for more positive thinking and actions to enter.
11. Learn what a pattern interrupt is and how to use it.
Wake up in a terrible mood because of a dream you had, and can’t seem to shake it? Go for a quick walk around the block and look up at the sky. Get out of your head and notice what’s there is to notice. How does the air feel on your skin? Can you hear birds singing or an airplane in the sky? What color are the sky and the clouds? Do you smell wet earth, autumn leaves, or snow? These all serve to “wake up” your mind and switch your focus from negative to positive, and that’s the pattern interrupt.
12. Realize your worth.
Every thought and feeling you have has worth and is valuable. Validate yourself first, and look inside for this validation, not to others.
13. Practice empathy in your daily life.
Shift the focus away from yourself, and to others and what they need, how they feel, and what you can offer them. Giving of yourself is the best feeling ever.
14. If you have relationships in your past that need healing, be the one to reach out.
These things weigh so heavily on your subconscious mind, even if you don’t actively think about them a lot. Making an effort to heal these relationships will quiet your mind because you know you’ve done the right thing.
15. Learn to assert yourself so that you feel taken care of.
If there is something that you want or need, ask for it, or go out and get it for yourself. Take the initiative to make sure you’re cared for in your life by being the one doing the caring.
16. Lead with unconditional love.
Let this the one guideline allow you to direct your life. When you approach every person, and every situation with unconditional love, it allows you to see where others may be needy, and it allows you to help fulfil those needs.
17. There is always a “bright side” to every situation imaginable.
Even the worst of the worst situations has some good that has come out of it. Learn to focus on the silver lining in any situation.
18. Learn to recognize, and listen deeply to your intuition.
Your intuition will never be wrong. If you learn to hear it and listen to the direction it tells you to go, you will never be led astray in your life.
19. Take up meditation, and practice it every single day.
There is no better positive reflective experience than meditation to keep your heart and soul healthy and in the present moment. People who meditate on a consistent basis suffer less stress and depression and have a healthier, more positive outlook overall.
Using some, or all, of the tips above will help you to find happiness through fully living in the present moment. Enjoy!
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