“Every cloud has a silver lining.” While cliche, this idea of thinking positively can benefit your health in multiple ways. Lower rates of depression. Lower levels of stress. Even a greater resistance to the common cold.
But it takes a conscious effort to see good in bad situations. For those with depression or anxiety, it can be even more challenging to practice positive thinking. However, as you work toward this mindset more and more, noticing silver linings will become easier, and you’ll see a significant shift in your mental health and mood.
Below are seven practical steps to achieve a more positive mindset.
Start the day with positive affirmations
“Today will be a good day.” “You’re stronger than what’s thrown at you.” “You are beautiful, inside and out.”
What you say to yourself at the beginning of your day sets the tone for the next 24 hours. Choose to start each morning on a positive note. Sure, the baby may be screaming or your partner woke up on the wrong side of the bed. But you have the power to control how you look at yourself and the challenges ahead of you.
Focus on small victories
There will be challenges in the day ahead. When you encounter them, focus on the benefits, however small or unimportant they may seem. Stuck in traffic? Now you have time to listen to that podcast or call up your friend.
Have a laugh
Laughter truly is the best medicine. Turn on your favorite sitcom or stand-up special. Chat with a loved one who always cracks a joke—no matter how cheesy. By giving yourself the opportunity to laugh, you create a window where stress decreases and positivity can sneak through the cracks of all the bad moments of the day.
Turn failures into lessons
You aren’t perfect. Mistakes and failures will happen. Instead of focusing on how you fell short, think about what you’ve learned for the future. If your project at work goes over budget or past the deadline, you can walk away with three new rules for managing projects and become a better employee and leader.
Practice positive self-talk
Negative self-talk can become a bad habit you barely notice. “I’m so bad at this.” “I shouldn’t have tried that.” These thoughts can quickly turn into internalized feelings that cement negative conceptions of yourself.
When you catch these thoughts, stop and replace them with positive messages like, “ Once I get more practice, I’ll be better at this,” or “That didn’t work out as planned—maybe next time.”
Focus on the present
Forget the scolding your boss gave you five minutes ago. Don’t worry about what they may say five minutes in the future. Focus only on the moment you’re currently in. What good can you see around you? How does a deep breath make you feel? By focusing only on the present, you put away worries and doubts about the past and future.
Build a positive community
When you surround yourself with positive people, you absorb their positive outlooks, experiences, and affirmations. The same goes for negative people. Removing yourself from situations where negativity abounds will make it easier for you to practice positive thinking and share your positive outlook with others.
Practicing positive thinking is just that—practice. There will be days where negative thoughts win, and that’s okay. But if you notice a consistent problem that may be indicative of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, help is available. You can always chat with one of our trained counselors to discover the next steps in your journey toward a happier life.