6 Ways to Learn How to Think Positive Thoughts to Improve Your Brain

How to Think Positive Thoughts headerDid you know you can fine tune your brain to improve memory, increase your ability to solve problems faster and increase happiness? Every thought releases brain chemicals. If you learn how to think positive thoughts the correct way you can improve your brain function in many different areas. This is better than any medicine, this is a natural way to super charge your brain whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom with 6 kids to look after or a college professor or a corporate high-flyer. 

To use positive thinking to improve your brain you need to know how to do it. People are often suggesting that we stay positive or look on the bright side, especially when things aren’t going very well. Unfortunately, they never seem to have much advice on how to do this. These six methods will help to make you more positive so that you can reap all of the benefits. To think positive thoughts, try the following…

1. Be Grateful

To learn how to think positive thoughts you need to open your mind to ideas you may not have tried before. Ideas presented by religion may seem unfamiliar, but sometimes they turn out to be better than you think. An old Jewish saying recommends that you “bless one thousand things every day,” here “bless” being read as “be grateful for. The thousand isn’t exactly literal, it just means “a lot.”

This little mantra reminds us to look for things in our day to be grateful for, and science has only recently begun to recommend the same thing. Whether you’re religious or not, acknowledging the things that you are grateful for every day can help to hardwire your brain to notice the positive things more quickly.

How does gratitude work?

The benefits snowball. You start to think positive thoughts by being grateful and then your brain is trained to notice the positive faster. This increased release of brain chemicals keeps happening as a result of you first learning how to think positive thoughts.

If you don’t have much faith in the power of being grateful but you still want to give it a chance, try keeping a gratitude journal. Even if you just write one sentence per day, you’ll increase your positive thinking.

Are you creative?

Are you artistic? You could sketch in your gratitude journal instead of writing words. Are you a photographer? Why not take one or more gratitude photos, print them and place them in a journal each day.

Don’t have much time?

Not feeling creative? Limit the creative output so you don’t feel like it’s a burden. Use bullet-point journaling instead.

Write each feeling of gratitude as two or three words and make a list. This doesn’t need to be complicated to start thinking positive thoughts and benefiting from it.

2. Be Aware Of Your Negative Thoughts

If you want to learn how to think positive thoughts to improve your brain function you may want to consider mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention, usually to your breath or your thoughts.

Mindful breathing is often used to control stress, but mindful thinking can lead to a more positive life. We tend to take our thoughts for granted. But they can still make a difference as they float through our minds.

Speaking to The Huffington Post, Dr. Joffrey Suprina explained the importance of our thoughts.  When we pay more attention to what thoughts we’re having throughout the day it can be easier to shake off the negative thoughts. This allows us to focus on the positive.

Mindfulness relies on focusing on the present. If you’re aware of the thoughts you’re having right now you can change the thoughts as they occur. To redirect your mind into thinking positively, you’re helping to release the right brain chemicals that improve brain function.

This is not easy to do at the beginning. When you start trying to be aware of your thoughts throughout the day you’ll forget to do it and get distracted. Just know that if you’re having negative thoughts and you’re feeling an emotional response in your body, it will probably trigger you to stop and pay attention to these negative thoughts and change them to focus on a more positive aspect of what’s happening in your day and your life.

3. Introduce Positive Thoughts

The staff at The Mayo Clinic point out that just like our thoughts can upset us when we don’t notice them, we also purposely introduce thoughts that make ourselves feel better. Trying to replace negative thoughts from our subconscious with positive thoughts from our conscious mind can be a very valuable tool.

The staff at the Mayo Clinic also points out, however, that these thoughts still need to be practical for them to work. Ignoring the negative isn’t thinking positive. Thinking positive is about making the best out of the worst that life gives us. To learn how to think positive thoughts you can’t just stay in a neutral mind-frame, thinking we’ve blocked out the negative.

Ignoring the negative thoughts doesn’t work in the way we need it to. In order to release the brain chemicals we need, it is important to learn how to think positive thoughts specifically.

4. Avoid Negative People

Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Gregory Jantz wrote that it is difficult for us to be positive when we are surrounded by negative people. That means people who practice negativity as well as people who somehow bring out the negativity in us.

Dr. Jantz doesn’t necessarily say that we need to remove these people from our lives forever, just while we’re first learning to become more positive. Kind of like how people who are quitting smoking find it hard to be around smokers for the first few days but eventually they’re okay to be around other smokers again.

To learn how to think positive thoughts we need to do this actively. You can’t just say I won’t let that person affect me. You need to take action and make a decision to keep your distance from this type of person, at least in the beginning.

5. Look At Challenges As Opportunities

An article by author Paul Sloane published by Lifehack.org recommends looking at potential challenges or setbacks as opportunities to go in another direction.

We tend to look at where we are as the culmination of a lot of hard work and so when things don’t go our way we feel like that work was for nothing. This produces very negative thoughts and the release of the wrong brain chemicals that we don’t want. You need to look at the disappointment as a positive.

In many cases, our achievements can be the result of hard work without being the end result of that work. What we thought was our best can really be a stepping stone to what lies ahead.

If you see mistakes and downfalls as a learning experience, you’ll realize that opportunities lie ahead. You want to learn how to think positive thoughts to improve your brain function so you need to turn the setback into an opportunity. This allows you to more forward, stronger and better.

6. Spend Time In “Input Mode”

A 2016 article by Inc. points out that we are either in “input” mode or “output” mode. Output mode is when we are doing or making things, like when we are at work or doing things for our family and friends.

Input mode is when we are doing things for ourselves like reading books. We can develop negative thoughts when we spend too much time in output mode and we can become more positive people by spending more time in input mode.

Is there a hobby or skill you’re interested in? If you can spend time learning something new that interests you, this can help you learn how to think positive thoughts without even trying. By spending time in input mode you’re helping your brain to think positive thoughts and you are becoming a more positive person. This in turn produces the brain chemicals we want and you can benefit from it.

These 6 ways to learn how to think positive thoughts are ideas for you to use. But you don’t need to use all of them at once. Start with one or two concepts, apply them in your daily life and then you can add more as you move forward.

How Does Positive Thinking Help Reduce Stress?

By reducing stress you are helping to improve your brain and body. If you want to learn how to think positive thoughts in specific ways to help reduce stress then here are some ideas to help you.

Stress can come directly from the situations in which we find ourselves. But it can also come from how we view those situations. Sometimes stress can come from how we look at things that don’t even directly affect us.

As a result, learning to think positively can help reduce unnecessary stress in our lives. But, is it really that simple?

Ask “What Went Right?” As Well As “What Went Wrong?”

A 2011 study conducted at the university of Minnesota and published in The Academy of Management Journal found that just as positive events reduce stress, positive reflection can also reduce stress.

The study recommended that emphasis not only be placed on avoiding negative events but also in encouraging positive events. It also suggests that positive reflection could reduce stress more than negative reflection.

In the currently predominating business culture, something going well is what is expected and most reflection occurs when something goes wrong.

While this does help to identify areas of potential improvement, we could probably all stand to devote a little more time to looking at why things that worked did work. Positive reflection helps improve services even when they are already working. It would also lead to less stressful environments.

Move On From Negative Experiences With Positive Ones

Stress is often caused by dwelling on things that have already come to pass. As a result, a significant amount of stress can be avoided by simply not thinking about things that have already happened. This is especially significant if they didn’t go well. But, is it enough to just forget?

According to a 2010 study published in the journal Cognition and Emotion, people have an easier time moving on from negative experiences if they have a positive experience that they can use to help replace the negative experience in their minds.

A further 2009 study published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy found that while distraction is more mentally beneficial than rumination on a negative experience, it is not as beneficial as more positive interventions. Similarly, other studies have found that while distraction causes some stress relief, it’s effects do not last long after the distraction ends.

Distraction can be a tempting method to move on from stress but that introduces the white bear effect. This principal suggests that if we are told not to think of a white bear, that is exactly what we are going to think of. Telling ourselves not to think of the white bear necessarily brings the bear back to the front of our minds.

Therefore the better method is to use positive experience to replace the negative experience. This is better than using distraction.

Accept Necessary Stresses

Studies have found that things like ignoring our stresses or thinking positively can help us to avoid stress. But these methods should only be used when you are stressing over something that isn’t important. Perhaps you regret having said the wrong thing to the cashier at the supermarket. Maybe something happened that you cannot change like making a mistake on a form at work last week.

It’s not a good idea to try to ignore or avoid stress that comes from the need to make decisions or respond to an unforeseen event in home or work life. That kind of stress needs to be dealt with and managed because it will never simply go away.

Stress is a natural and healthy part of life. Whenever a stressful situation occurs in which we still have time to make the right decision or solve a problem you should meet that opportunity head on. Deal with it rather than trying to ignore your problems or find your happy place.

The tools discussed in this article are meant to be used to address stress when a situation occurs. No meaningful method will remove stress from your life entirely.

Do what you can to learn how to think positive thoughts and you’ll be the one who benefits from it. You don’t need to spend money to do it and you’re in control of when and how you choose your positive thoughts. By educating yourself about how to think positive thoughts, you can help reduce stress in your life and improve brain health. Try it, starting today.

 

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