It is usually easy to think positively and enjoy the moment when things go right: we graduate from a reputable college, we get a nice job, or our crowd-funding campaign kicks off with a huge success. But when things do not go as we planned, it becomes hard to keep a positive attitude and go on. Nevertheless, some people succeed and it turns into their key to triumph.
I first heard about positive thinking when I was graduating from college and my life was full of uncertainty. Just like any other recent graduate, I had many doubts about myself and what life had to offer me, but I decided to give it a try as one of my friends was overly optimistic about it.
Today, looking back at my experience, I realize that it was the best decision I could have ever taken because it taught me some lessons only positive thinkers can learn.
So I decided to come up with a list of 5 lessons that only positive thinking can teach us and how it can shape the type of person we want to be tomorrow. Here they are:
- Your attitude determines your whole life
- It is okay to have negative thoughts – you cannot feel happy all the time
- Purpose and meaning can be found in small things
- Change takes time – be patient
- There is always a way to get better
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
1. Your attitude determines your whole life
The biggest change happened in me when I realized that I am the only driver of my own destiny. It may sound cliché to many people, but when you actually start to practice it, you understand that anything is possible. It just depends on your attitude.
When something bad happens you have 2 simple choices: you can either adopt a good attitude or a bad one. While a bad attitude is an easy thing to do as our brain is more sensitive to negative thoughts, positive attitude opens us up to more opportunities and solutions in life.
One of the leading experts of positive psychology, Barbara Fredrickson concluded that a positive attitude broadens our sense of possibility and gives us more options to choose from when a problem or a challenge occurs. Now if we have a choice to act positively and therefore find solutions more easily, why not do it?
2. It is okay to have negative thoughts – you cannot feel happy all the time
Many people think that positive thinkers never have negative thoughts or never experience negative emotions. What positive thinking actually taught me is that having negative thoughts is absolutely normal. It is just the way we handle those thoughts that matters most.
Some people also confuse positive thinking with blindfolded optimism. While positive thinking is about a positive attitude towards any challenge that life brings us, the secret to success lies in staying realistic about one’s abilities. So if one practices positive thinking it does not mean they are a superman. It only means they know how to control the situation by taking over their thoughts and attitudes.
3. Purpose and meaning can be found in small things
Positive thinking also taught me that purpose and meaning can be found in small things and should not necessarily be unattainable as we usually think of them. The path to finding purpose lies in exploring one’s strengths and character traits and being able to use them in our everyday lives.
Strengths-based assessment which is a huge part of positive thinking suggests that when people use their strengths they are on average 74% more engaged at work. So instead of chasing a vague idea of purpose, it is much more beneficial to find one’s top character traits, be able to use them every day and turn that into one’s personal purpose. The gratification that comes as a result is much more satisfying than any other reward.
4. Change takes time – be patient
Some people think that practicing positive thinking is going to bring change overnight. But what positive thinking really taught me is that change takes time and a lot of perseverance. It is a continuous process of shifting one’s thoughts into positive ones, transforming one’s attitudes and actions and believing that change is actually possible.
Apparently, change that happens very fast is usually not fundamental and is most of the time shaky because our brain and body do not manage to adopt the change on all levels. If we want to achieve long-term and vital changes in our lives, we should learn to be patient, to move little by little and stay engaged through all the ups and downs.
5. There is always a way to get better
The last lesson positive thinking taught me is that there is always a way to get better in this life. After every single failure and achievement, take some time to think about the ways you can get better the next time. It will help you always have something to look forward to! And when we have that ambition we channel all our thoughts, our strengths and our emotions in that one direction which guarantees our better performance next time.
Pursuing my passion gave a completely different meaning to this process of getting better. When we find that intersection between our passion and our personal skills, getting better becomes natural because we start to use our strengths towards what motivates us and gives us goosebumps.
Everybody’s experience with positive thinking is dissimilar: many people stay indifferent, some people stick with it until they get some tangible results, and some others simply end up becoming more negative.
One thing is sure that positive thinking is not a magical stick that will change your life overnight but it will help you find enough strength in yourself to handle change and feel happier.
So why not?
In case you are looking to boost your confidence, take a look at this guide to important steps to build confidence using your strengths.