Seven Ways to Make Your Thoughts More Empowering
How to bring more positivity and optimism into your day.
Author and psychologist Wayne Dyer often said, “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” Here are seven ways to change our thoughts to build more positivity and optimism into our day.
1. Change the focus. Do we focus on what we have or on what we lack? On our goals or our obstacles? On what is right in our lives or on what is going wrong? We find what we search for; our minds can only focus on a limited amount at a time. Focus on what you want and who you want to become.
2. Start your day with something inspiring. Many of us are regularly and repeatedly exposed to negative messages without even realizing that the media we are consuming is influencing us. The news rarely informs us of happy events that reinforce a belief in the core goodness of most people. Instead we are bombarded with pessimism and tragedy often before we even have our first cup of coffee. Start your day with learning something that inspires you and directs your thoughts into a positive direction.
3. Learn to question yourself. Observe your own thoughts throughout the day and question them. Are they true? Are they helpful? Are they necessary? Clarity is power. Know exactly what your goals are and ask yourself often if your thoughts are helping or hindering those goals.
4. Start and end with gratitude. As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, train yourself to always have a grateful thought first. Think about the people you are blessed to have in your life. About your warm bed. The food in your fridge. The gift of another day. And right before you go to sleep at night, find a grateful thought that you can have about the day. A smile. A kind word. A new opportunity. Bookend your days with grateful thoughts.
5. Shift your locus of control. Unhappy people often have an external locus of control; they attribute everything that happens to them to outside circumstances. Changing our thoughts to an internal locus of control (believing that we can shape our lives and who we become) not only increases our happiness, but it also increases our motivation and our overall effectiveness in our lives.
6. Pay attention to your words. How we speak and the words that we choose deeply affect the content of our thoughts. Even seemingly innocuous phrases like “it doesn’t matter” or “I’m just saying” can change our perception of our own actions and words. We often downplay the significance of important aspects of our lives with sarcastic or dismissive words. Tim Grover, the author of Relentless, suggests that people never say “it’s only a job” or “it’s just a meeting.” Try taking words like “only” and “just” out of all of your sentences and see how your thoughts are moving you forward instead of pulling you back.
7. Substitute thoughts instead of fighting them. Many of us try to get rid of our negative thoughts but find that the more we try not to think about something, the more we ironically think about it. This is why it is sometimes more effective to instead replace unwanted thoughts with desired ones. This requires having a good book or source of wisdom ready nearby or a list of quotes that you can look over to change the direction of your thoughts. At any moment the thoughts we have can alter the direction of our lives and the lives of those around us. Don’t wait until you feel positive and inspired to transform the way you think. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said, “If you wait until you find the meaning of life, will there be enough life left to live meaningfully?”