Positive thinking techniques and exercises help you bring positive change into your life with short and simple exercises that honor your feelings.
This delicate balance is the secret sauce!
Because there’s a lot of negativity floating around, whether it be in family members, friends, social media, TV, the air we breathe… it’s out there!
And we need a little help because negative thinking seems to be the focus for so many of us.
However, the best way to change any habit is practice. And exercises help you practice!
In his inspiring book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, published in 1937, he writes: “You have absolute control over just one thing, your thoughts.”
Do you see the date Napoleon Hill first published this world famous book?
During the depression!
Yes, he had some perspective. Think and Grow Rich has sold more than 70 million copies to help us be less negative in our thinking and use the power of thought to succeed in life!
So, we need more positive thoughts! A well placed positive affirmation can diffuse a negative mindset faster than you can say: Ugh!
This article is meant for YOU to learn how to think positively, so you will be happier and less afraid, so you’ll face new challenges, so you’ll focus on what brings you joy; and finally, so you’ll see what’s working in your life.
Focus in life is key here.
Exercises for positive thinking
Short and simple exercises that honor your feelings, while keeping your thoughts positive.
Exercises for positive thinking intro.
The key to learning anything new is practice and repetition over time. One positive affirmation leads to another, and next thing you know, you have a new habit.
Practice a positive mindset.
As I’ve said, learning anything new takes practice and repetition over time. See how I repeated that?
REPETITION IS KING!
Where one positive affirmation leads to another, and next thing you know, you have a new habit.
But, it takes time, so don’t be discouraged if negative thinking stays with you. No one changes overnight.
So let’s get started with 8 simple exercises that will help you with positive thinking from my book The Thought Store: 8 Simple Thinking Habits for work and life.
Positive Thinking Exercise #1 – Notice your thoughts.
EXERCISE: For 5 minutes a day, notice what you’re thinking about. That’s it, just notice!
Your thoughts affect every area of your life. What you think about, and how you think, demands attention. So, positive thinking exercises will help you focus your attention.
The simple act of paying attention to your thoughts is extremely powerful for helping you create a positive mindset. When you notice your thoughts, you’re more aware of what is driving your life.
Notice how your thoughts feel.
When you think of something good, notice that you feel light, warm, energetic and peaceful.
When you think: I am beautiful, or I am intelligent, it lifts your energy. High quality thoughts feel way different in the body than low quality thoughts.
With low quality thoughts, you feel heavy and weighed down. Thoughts like: I’m not that smart, or I always mess up, make you feel so tired that you want to drop to the ground and sleep!
Also, notice how your thoughts affect the people around you.
Your thoughts influence your emotions. Just notice what results you’re producing with your thoughts. And all of this noticing doesn’t have to be a burden. The more you pay attention to your thoughts, the easier it gets. Paying attention moves you one step closer to having your thoughts work for you, not against you.
Negative thoughts have low energy
Your thoughts have energy and can produce positive things, a more positive outlook, improved mental health, and all the positive things we enjoy as human beings.
A negative mindset is contagious
In an NPR article titled: Gloomy Thinking Can Be Contagious, they state that in regard to college freshman roommates, “Within just three months, the roommates with different styles began to ‘infect’ one another.”
“These thinking styles were contagious,” he says. “If you came to college and your roommate had a very negative thinking style, your own thinking style became more negative.”
So beware, the negative thinking around you is affecting you more than you may realize.
Positive Thinking Exercise #2 – Ask yourself if what you’re thinking about is true.
EXERCISE: When you notice yourself starting to worry, ask yourself: What am I thinking about?
When you’re having having negative thoughts, ask yourself: What am I thinking about? Is it true?
This exercise will stop you from going in a negative thinking spiral. When we believe the worst will happen, it sets off a domino effect of negative thinking.
Sometimes you might have yourself upset and worked up over a thought that is not at all true, and then negative thoughts control your actions.
For example, when you assume, you make huge leaps in your thoughts: My friend didn’t call me back, so I’m not important enough. My coworker didn’t smile at me, so she must be angry.
When you worry, you think the worst will happen! For instance, my son is late: he had an accident. Or, I got dizzy: I have a serious disease.
We tend to spiral down in our thoughts and it all starts to innocently.
Positive Thinking Exercise #3 – Choose good thoughts throughout the day.
EXERCISE: At the start of each day, choose 3 thoughts you’ll repeat during the day that will lift your energy. ie: I feel good. I feel loved.
Because thoughts have energy, your thoughts either lift you up or weigh you down; make you weak or make you strong. That’s how positive thinking works.
Positive thinking exercises with positive words, with positive affirmations reinforces a positive attitude.
You don’t want to be a victim of whatever feelings happen to enter your body.
Life is constantly changing. So, to live your best life, and not be thrown into a tail spin with ever-changing conditions and situations, you need positive thinking exercises that ground you.
Positive thinking includes seeing the good in human nature. Positive statements and reminders of this will help you, so you’re not discouraged by the bad mood of a friend, or when negative things are happening around you.
When you’re angry, remember that there are no negative emotions. If someone suggests to you that you have negative emotions, they’re wrong!
Negative feelings are the same way. All of your feelings are valid. All of them.
However, how you think about them is what’s critical here.
Negative thoughts are the culprit, not so called negative emotions.
Instead, think of emotions as uncomfortable, challenging, or painful. By making this important shift, you’ll honor your emotions and allow yourself to be a whole person.
Human beings are complex and we must honor the full range of our emotions.
Positive Thinking Exercise #4 – Feel your emotions without dwelling on them.
EXERCISE: Next time you feel upset, name the emotion. Say it aloud. ie: I feel angry. Just feel it without analyzing it.
Painful feelings don’t magically disappear, they want to be felt. So, positive thinking exercises must help you feel what’s real for you, while keeping positive thoughts nearby.
This is what healthy positive thinking is: Thinking that reinforces your strength, self love, and the more positive words and aspects of you!
However, beware of phrases like: Stay positive or stay optimistic. Because while well intentioned, this kind of advice often makes us feel worse, like we’re failing and we’re “wrong” for feeling the way we do.
There’s a beautiful balance of feelings and thinking positively that’s the secret sauce.
Therefore, when you’re angry, don’t stuff it down. When you feel sad, let yourself be sad.
If you feel frustrated, it’s ok! Life is frustrating and you just need different exercises to allow the frustration to be felt and released.
So, please take away this main point on positive thinking and feelings: You can’t avoid your feelings for two big reasons: One, it doesn’t work. And two, the only way to heal your heart is to feel.
Nature designs us to heal. So, allow yourself to feel whatever emotion arises.
Then, at some point, when you’re ready, you’ll be able to let it go.
Since your thoughts have an energetic quality to them, positive words and thoughts have the power to physically help you in difficult times. And don’t use thoughts to avoid feelings. Instead, use the power of thought to strengthen and guide you.
You are here to heal your heart, and positive thinking exercises will help you do so, as long as you feel everything that comes up for you.
Positive Thinking Exercise #5 – Take a break from thinking.
EXERCISE: Once a day, for 2 minutes, STOP what you’re doing and focus on your breath.
Since we have over 60,000 thoughts a day on average, so the mind needs a rest each day.
One way to rest the mind is meditation.
Because when the mind gets overworked, it’s stressful! .
When you allow your mind to not think, you allow inspiration, ideas, and guidance to come in. As you rest your mind, you gain more clarity and connect with yourself.
So, to practice focusing on the breath… when a thought arises, and they do constantly, notice the thought and come back to the present by focusing on your breath.
And warning, you might be discouraged by your wandering mind. This is normal and to be expected. Instead, just notice your thoughts come and go while focusing on the breath.
Positive Thinking Exercise #6 – Take a pause when you’re offended.
EXERCISE: Next time you feel offended by something that was said to you, PAUSE and tell yourself how you feel. ie: I feel hurt. I feel angry.
Life offers many, many opportunities to be offended.
It is easy to be hurt because people don’t always act the way we’d like them to. Sometimes, you feel like a target and people are throwing darts in your direction.
However, you don’t have to spend your precious life being hurt by the words and actions of others.
Sometimes it is intended, more often it is not.
Either way, you can choose how to think about it. Therefore, when something happens that could possibly offend you, take a deep breath and adjust your thoughts so that you won’t be offended.
This small pause gives you a moment to acknowledge your feelings and make a deliberate choice of what to think.
Truly, you don’t have any idea what is in the minds of others. So, maybe they’re nicer than you think?
No, I know how you’re feeling, but here’s hoping.
Positive Thinking Exercise #7 – Ask for help when you need it.
EXERCISE: Find something that you’re doing that you feel lost and confused about. Now write down the people, books, programs, groups, etc. that might be able to help you.
When you’ve tried everything, and given all you have, and life still isn’t working, ask for help.
At times like these you can think: I don’t have all the answers. I cannot do this by myself. First, I exhaust all of my options, then, I use all of my resources.
After you’ve done all you can do, if you’ve not succeeded, ask for help.
Try thinking: Who or what can help me?
Think of all the resources available to you. Make a list. Think of where you can look.
Asking for help involves letting go. In these moments we are letting go of being in control.
It’s tough to let go of control, I know it has been for me!
You have great potential and the ability to go to the limits of your imagination.
However, making a conscious decision to ask for help and guidance along the way will make your load easier to bear.
Positive Thinking Exercise #8 – Think of what you’re grateful for at the start of each day.
EXERCISE: Each morning, before you get out of bed, think of everything you’re grateful for. List them out and feel it in your heart as you’re thinking of it.
This simple exercise will remind you that while life is challenging, you can always find something or someone to be grateful for.
As you feel grateful, it takes you out of fear and worry.
On some days the list is longer than others. But, you always have a list of things that have gone well.
The more my gratitude becomes an ingrained way of thinking, the longer becomes your list.
This is not an exercise you do out of guilt. Nope! Because, as you’re grateful, you’re not afraid. When you’re grateful, you’re not mad. Finally, when you’re grateful, you’re letting the universe know that you’re paying attention to all that you have.
Gratitude makes you feel good. And when you feel good, you have more to give.
Positive thinking exercises are a game changer. Just as an athlete exercises to stay in shape, positive thinking exercises keep your mind and spirit in shape.
Learning anything new requires practice and the exercises I’ve listed above will dramatically help you create realistic goals, a positive mindset, a positive outlook, and the life you deserve.
If you’d like additional help and positive affirmations to help you perform these exercises, here is my positive thinking quick guide.