Do you want to cultivate a positive mindset and improve your overall quality of life? A positive mental attitude can lead to a wide range of health benefits, such as lower stress levels, better stress management, and reduced depression rates. While positive thinking alone won’t make your problems disappear, it will make hardships seem more manageable and help you approach challenges more productively.
This article includes seven easy-to-follow steps to help you develop a positive mindset. You don’t need to instill all of these things at once. Choose some tips that resonate, and see where it takes you!
Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. A positive mindset can reshape your mental and physical health.
Proven health benefits of positive thinking and a positive mindset include higher energy levels, better stress management, lower rates of depression, and an overall better quality of life.
Positive thinking isn’t magic and won’t make your problems disappear. However, it can make problems more manageable and help you approach hardships more positively and productively.
Some of the most popular, practical steps to develop a positive mindset include keeping a thought journal, exercising, and learning from the best self-help books on the Headway app.
1. Download the Headway app
Reading and stories have the power to make us more empathetic. When we feel less alone, we see a situation from differing perspectives more easily. This empathy also extends to ourselves. Unfortunately, our fast-paced lives don’t always allow us the time to sit down and read for hours. Between work, family, and social life, it is hard to find much personal time.
The Headway app is a great solution for those on the go who want to prioritize bringing positive thinking into their life. The platform offers 15-minute book summaries, personalized features, daily insights, and more, so you can develop your positive mindset no matter how busy your schedule is. A great place to start would be browsing our list of best books on happiness to start shifting your mindset now.
Don’t like reading? Headway has something for you too! You can listen to Headway’s collection of audio book summaries at home, at work, or on the go to start building your positive mindset today. Download the Headway app for unlimited access to a library of over 1,500 audio book summaries.
2. Keep a thought journal
Keeping a thought journal is one of the most powerful tools for identifying and reframing negative thoughts. By writing down negative thoughts as they occur, you can become more aware of patterns and triggers that lead to negative thinking. This can help you to take control of your thoughts and reframe them in a more positive light.
Here are a few easy tips for keeping a thought journal:
Make it a daily habit: Set aside time each day, whether first thing in the morning or before bed, and write down your thoughts. Consistency is key to making it a habit.
Be specific: When writing down your thoughts, be specific about what you are thinking. Instead of writing ‘I’m feeling negative,’ write ‘I’m feeling angry because my boss criticized my work in front of the team.’
Reframe negative thoughts: Once you have identified a negative thought, try to reframe it in a more positive light. Write down the reframed thought next to the original one.
Look for patterns: As you continue to keep a thought journal, you may start to notice patterns in your negative thoughts. Identifying these patterns can help you to understand the triggers that lead to negative thinking and take steps to address them.
Use it as a tool for reflection: A thought journal is a tool for identifying negative thoughts and reflecting on your daily experiences and emotions, which can help you better understand yourself.
Keeping a thought journal is a process that may take some time to see results. However, with practice and patience, you will become more skilled at identifying and reframing your thoughts, which can lead to a more positive mindset.
3. Practice breathing exercises
We all know that breathing is how human beings stay alive. But breathing does more than bring oxygen to our bloodstream and let carbon dioxide out — breathing lets people tap into their emotions. Conscious or meditative breathing can help rid our bodies of stress and reach an emotional balance.
You’ve probably noticed that your breath changes depending on your feelings. When we’re relaxed, our breathing patterns become slow and deep. When we’re scared, our breathing patterns become shallow and quick. Practicing proper breathing can take your body into that relaxed and positive space. That’s why practicing proper breathing can help shift your mindset and work to develop positive thinking. The best thing about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere!
A great breathing exercise to start with is box breathing. To practice box breathing, follow these five steps:
exhale for four seconds;
hold your lungs empty for four seconds;
inhale for four seconds;
hold the air in your lungs for four seconds;
exhale and continue the pattern for as long as you like.
If you try this out, check in with your thoughts and mindset afterward. See if you are feeling more relaxed and positive.
This practical tip for developing a positive mindset stems from the age-old saying: the more we give, the happier we are. We all lead busy lives that can make it hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering in improving your positive thinking can be enormous.
Giving to others is scientifically proven to benefit and protect your mental health. Volunteering can combat depression, reduce stress, and provide a sense of purpose. The act of volunteering fights depression by keeping you in regular contact with other people. A solid support system is a great way to effectively ward off those negative thoughts and bolster your mind’s ability to think positively.
The more humans give, the happier they feel. Researchers have measured the hormones and brain activity of those who volunteer and have come to find that being helpful to others delivers great happiness. Volunteering doesn’t have to take a huge chunk of time out of your busy schedule or involve a long-term commitment.
Implementing the practice of volunteering in your life in little ways can help improve your positive thinking or develop a more positive mindset.
5. Practice positive affirmations
Affirmations are powerful tools that can help to change the way we think, feel, and behave. They work by repetition. By consistently repeating positive statements, we can reprogram our subconscious mind to accept these statements as true. This can lead to changes in our thoughts, emotions, and actions. For example, suppose you repeat an affirmation such as ‘I am confident and capable’ multiple times a day. In that case, your subconscious mind will begin to believe that you are confident and capable. This can lead to an increase in self-confidence and a decrease in self-doubt.
Another benefit of affirmations is that they can help to focus the mind on specific goals and desired outcomes. By repeating an affirmation related to a specific goal, such as ‘I am successful in my career,’ you can train your mind to focus on this goal, increasing motivation and drive towards achieving it.
Additionally, affirmations can help to counteract negative self-talk and beliefs. Negative thoughts such as ‘I am not good enough’ can be replaced by positive affirmations like ‘I am deserving of success.’ These little shifts in our mindset work towards creating a kinder, softer, and more optimistic outlook on life.
It’s important to note that affirmations are not magic and take time and consistency to show effects. Still, when used consistently and properly, they can have a powerful impact on our mindset.
6. Implement exercise into your weekly routine
Time and time again, exercise has been shown to impact mental health positively and can help you develop a more positive mindset. Regular physical activity can have several benefits for mental well-being, including:
Reducing stress and anxiety: Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. This works to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Improving mood: Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression, and increase feelings of well-being.
Enhancing self-esteem: Exercise can help improve body image and self-esteem, leading to a more positive mindset.
Improving cognitive function: Exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory and concentration. This can help to improve focus and productivity.
Increasing social connections: Exercise can be a social activity, and social support is a key factor in maintaining a positive mindset. Joining a gym or sports team or finding an exercise buddy can help you feel connected and supported.
Helping with the regulation of sleep: Regular exercise can help to improve the quality and quantity of sleep, which can positively impact mental health.
Finding what makes you happy — dance class, boxing, yoga, skiing, or long walks with friends all works to get your body moving and help develop a positive mindset.
7. Practice self-care
Self-care looks different for everybody. It may be running a bath, cooking your favorite meal, curling up with your favorite book, buying yourself a hot chocolate, or lying down in a hammock. No matter what self-care is for you, practicing something nice for yourself can help you develop a more positive mindset.
If we don’t like ourselves, we may unconsciously put ourselves in situations that uphold that negative thinking. Developing a positive mindset involves cultivating the belief that we are worth taking care of. Seeing ourselves as human beings that are allowed to have breaks and be treated well teaches us to think more positively. These acts of self-care, whatever they may be for you, can help when trying to develop more positive thinking.
Developing a positive mindset takes time and effort, but it is worth the investment. By incorporating these strategies into your weekly routine, you can learn to think more positively, build resilience, and improve your well-being. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate small successes along the way. Building a positive thinking pattern is a skill to be nurtured with practice and patience.
Although we hope this article inspired you to take action immediately, we know that true, lasting change like this requires time. If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, we recommend browsing the Headway app. This app gives you unlimited access to a library of the best book summaries on self-growth and well-being.
Download the Headway app today to start your journey toward a more positive mindset.
How do I rewire my brain to be positive?
Negative thoughts can stop many of us from reaching our dreams, building healthy relationships, and getting the most out of life. Practicing positive affirmations is a great way to begin rewiring your brain and developing a positive mindset. Affirmations work through repetition and slowly ‘rewire’ our subconscious mind to think more positively. Try saying your affirmations out loud. This can help solidify these happy thoughts and to make them come into existence!
How can I turn my negative thoughts into positive ones?
The first step to turning negative thoughts into positive ones is not to push them away. You want your negative thoughts to disappear and be resolved rather than sit on the sidelines waiting to crop up again. Keeping a thought journal is a very effective way to try and change this. Every day, try to record a few of your thoughts, whether positive or negative — where they happened, why they happened, and who they happened with. This works to identify triggers and reveal thought patterns you can change for next time.
How do I get out of my head and stop overthinking?
Often, overthinking is a byproduct of anxiety or depression. You may find that your overthinking tends to materialize when you need to make a tough life decision or are dealing with insecurities. A great way to curb overthinking is to try practical steps to develop a positive mindset. Keeping a thought journal, volunteering, exercising, and reading are great steps to start building up your positive thinking.