Happy adults - how to think positively

Having blogged for many years about fostering and raising children I have more recently looked at ways in which adults and young people can achieve happiness and contentment. Last time we looked at the benefits of thinking positively - for our children, young people and ourselves.  Last time I looked at the benefits of thinking positively - for our children, young people and ourselves.  This time I would like to look at how to achieve positive thinking. 

  1. Focus on all that is good in life and the world around. Acknowledge the negative but don’t dwell on it. If you find your thoughts returning to the negative, rein them in and re-focus. This gets easier the more you do it.
  2. Focus on your attributes. You have much to offer. Acknowledge your failings and weaknesses but don’t dwell on them. None of us is perfect.
  3. Visualize positive outcomes. Research has shown that if you believe something will turn out well you increase the chances of it doing so.
  4. Think good of others. See the best in other people; give them the benefit of the doubt, don’t harbour grudges, forgive them and move on.
  5. Be grateful. Even the most disadvantaged of us has something to be grateful for. Recognize it and be thankful it is yours.
  6. Get rid of the belief that life owes you. It doesn’t. The only person who owes is you and you owe it to yourself to make the best of life.

To think positively we need to be aware of what is happening in our thoughts. During the day our thought processes vary to accommodate what we are doing: reading or studying, at work, being on the computer, watching television, listening to music, talking, concentrating on a difficult task, relaxing, etc. 

Sometimes our thoughts will be wholly occupied by what we are doing, but at other times there is space for our thoughts to cruise or wander. It is at such times, when we are off guard, not wholly concentrating, that we are most likely to find ourselves thinking negative thoughts if we are in a negative state of mind. 

We need to be aware of our thoughts and deal with any negativity immediately. Don’t indulge this negativity. Acknowledge the feeling and then let it go by consciously shifting your mind to a positive thought. By using this strategy it is possible to retrain your mind. I hate him for what he did to me but that part of my life is over now and I have a great future ahead of me. I wish my mum was still alive, I miss her dreadfully. But thank goodness she was my mum and we had all those good years together. 

The power of positive thinking

I am a positive thinker but I haven’t always been. As a teenager I used to dwell on all the sadness in the world (over which I had no control) and make myself very unhappy. Positive thinking came to me in my twenties, after a traumatic experience, and has been my companion ever since. It sees me through life’s downers and makes me appreciate every new day. 

The children I foster often arrive depressed and unhappy – with very good reason: they have been separated from their families and have often been abused or badly neglected. By the time they leave I hope they are a lot happier, for while I haven’t been able to change their past experience I have been able to help them towards an acceptance of what has happened, and encourage them to think positively towards a brighter future. 

Young children and even toddlers can be encouraged to think positively as soon as they begin taking an interest in their surroundings. There is beauty everywhere; sometimes we just need to see it. By pointing out a little bird or clear blue sky, or asking your child if he or she is enjoying their ice cream: ‘Mmm, that looks yummy. I bet it tastes good’ – you are encouraging your child to think positively. 

The notion of positive thinking is not new, but when you discover its huge power and the possibilities it opens up for happiness and contentment it seems like a revelation. It is life changing.  

These blogs are based on my book Happy Adults, available in paperback, e-book and audio: http://amzn.to/tdJJcY

Cathy Glass


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