Many people state that in order to lead a happier life, you need to be able to have an optimistic outlook. However, “think happy thoughts” is easier said than done when you’re faced with mental health issues, social struggles, work fatigue, and more.
According to the University of Scranton, only eight percent of people reach their New Year’s goals by the end of the year–and this can include the goal of positive thinking. However, this doesn’t mean your goal for a kinder brain is impossible.
Read on as we discuss the strategies and tactics needed in order to change your frustrated, overwhelmed brain into a calmer and happier one. You can start these simple steps today!
What Are Positive Thoughts?
Before you start any goal, it’s important to create one that’s as specific and tangible as possible. This is because with a vague goal such as “losing weight” or “become happier,” you won’t be sure when you’ve reached your goal.
Even worse, you’ll become easily overwhelmed by these goals when the initial motivation fades away. These ambiguous goals make them seem insurmountable, like a mountain towering in the distance.
With this in mind, what does “think happier thoughts” mean to you specifically? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- You’re able to handle unexpected issues without feeling out of control
- You’re capable of stepping outside your comfort zone more often
- You feel peace with yourself when you look in a mirror
- You aren’t overanalyzing yourself from social anxiety
Thinking happy thoughts is still a worthwhile goal–just make sure you’re as specific with yourself as possible for how that will look in your life.
Identify Your Thoughts
Now that you have your goal set, one of the most life-changing practices you can start today is to start identifying your thoughts. When people spiral into negative thought patterns, they automatically believe that if they have that thought, it must mean it’s true. Your thoughts don’t dictate reality!
In order to change this toxic pattern, start identifying your thoughts in a non-biased way. By stating, “This is a negative thought,” to yourself, you’ll be able to take back control over your negative thought patterns.
You’ll also realize how many negative thoughts you have in a day–or only in an hour. You’ll begin to build resilience as well as patience as you begin to understand how unkind to yourself you are each day.
You Have Control
As you begin to understand how clouded your mind is by negative thoughts each day, it’s also important to understand boundaries. Protecting yourself and sticking with your boundaries isn’t selfish–it’s necessary in order to lead a fulfilling and happy life.
Consider whether there are certain people in your life who make you feel negative every time you’re around them. There may be some people you’ll need to cut out of your life, while others you can limit contact.
Likewise, take a look at the online articles, social media accounts, tv shows, and more that you’re consuming. If particular media or accounts are making you feel routinely negative about yourself, consider limiting access to them as well.
One of the worst parts about negative thoughts is that they make you blind to the aspects of your life that are beautiful. Relationships, fun events, beautiful sites, and more–all of these things that would normally build happy thoughts will be ignored if you’re not accustomed to practicing gratitude.
In order to get started, we recommended grabbing a notebook and a pen and planning on writing three things you’re grateful for each morning or evening. These can be small or large things, and you can also write the first thing that comes to mind.
Regardless of what you write, you’ll find that doing this on a consistent basis will make you better at identifying happy moments in your life as they occur. You’ll also come to realize that there really aren’t a lot of large, “Instagram-worthy” events in your daily life.
Instead, life is made out of hundreds of tiny, almost insignificant moments. Once you begin to recognize them, you’ll find that your thoughts will become happier as a result!
Last but not least, many people fall into the trap of repeating affirmations to themselves that they don’t believe. It’s important that you create “transition” affirmations in order to make the gradual step to positive, happy thoughts that you feel in your core.
For instance, instead of saying, “I’m beautiful,” when you feel as if you’re ugly, create an affirmation that allows you to accept it entirely. This may be something like, “I feel like I’m ugly to other people, but I’m making steps to improve my self-confidence every day.”
These transition affirmations are usually longer, but they also enable you to accept them. You’ll soon find that saying, “I’m beautiful,” doesn’t feel as uncomfortable as it did in the beginning.
It Takes Practice to Think Happy Thoughts
In order to think happy thoughts, you can’t change your brain overnight. Remember that changing the way you think about yourself, life, and issues that arise takes practice and patience. For this reason, start by focusing on one smaller goal at a time in order to achieve your larger goal of becoming more mindful each day.
As you assimilate each step into your lifestyle and journal your progress, you’ll find that over time, your thought patterns are making a change for the better. Just like brushing your teeth, these habits aren’t glamorous or even fun in the moment–but they’ll build up over time to massive rewards.
Ready for more tips on how to change your life for the better? Take a look at more of our self-improvement articles for actionable tips and strategies.