For a big part it is up to you whether you are happy or not. You are the boss of your own thoughts: you decide how you respond on different situations in your life. Of course, there are (a lot of) external events influencing your happiness, like stress at work, conflicts, death or other traumatic experiences. Sometimes it is not possible to experience ultimate happiness, but staying positive will contribute to a feeling of happiness. And you can learn how to think positive!
The placebo effect
To convince you of the power of positive thinking we discuss the placebo effect. You have probably heard of it: When you believe the placebo pill is actually a ‘real’ pill, it might actually heal you. It also works the other way around (nocebo effect): if you do not believe in the pill, then its effect reduces. Our mind is super powerful! If your thoughts can affect your body, then you can probably imagine that negative thinking can affect your mood too.
Discover your negative beliefs
First, it is important to discover what your negative thoughts and beliefs are. This can be difficult! But try to explore how you, in your mind, respond to different situations. For example, when you enter school or work, you kindly say goodmorning but your classmates or colleagues do not answer you back. Are you assuming it is because of you or do you think to yourself: “well, they are probably working very hard”. Notice your negative thoughts and try to find a positive alternative.
Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.”
Affirmations can help you in training yourself to find positive alternatives. Affirmations are short statements you can say (out loud) to yourself on a daily basis. For example ‘I am good enough’ or ‘I am strong enough to keep going’. It can be everything! Maybe this feels a little weird in the beginning, but when you repeat it more often you will start to believe it (and it becomes a little less awkward).
Next to that, accept that you have certain feelings. An off day or a moment you feel down, it is OK. Ignoring it does not make the feelings disappear, in fact: they might get worse. Give yourself space and time to deal with it. After that it will probably be easier to stay positive!
How do you practice positive thinking?