Happiness is my favorite feeling in the world! I don’t think I have ever met a person who does not want to live a happy life; however, I have met a lot of people who struggle living a happy life. Throughout life, there are obstacles that can hinder our happiness, ranging from failing a test, to divorce, to finding out a loved one is sick. Whether you are 10 years old or 60 years old, there are life hurdles that can make it difficult to experience true happiness. I know that there are many who have felt that it is impossible to ever achieve happiness again. The good news is that every single person in this world has the potential to live a happy, positive life.
The happiness in our lives depends on the quality of our thoughts. Our thoughts are so important because they have the power to cultivate our happiness and shape our lives. Our thoughts affect how we feel, which affects how we act, which affects how we live our lives. By changing our negative thoughts to positive thoughts, we then can create more positive emotions which will lead to a positive and happy life. As a counselor at Art It Out, I incorporate principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with all of my clients, which helps clients change their unhelpful thinking patterns to improve their mood, behaviors, and quality of life. Below is the CBT triangle that can help you understand how our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors all influence each other.
By thinking positively, you can influence your health, mind, body, and overall way of living. There are numerous benefits of positive thinking, and here are a few of them:
Lower stress levels
Increased ability to take care of yourself
Lower blood pressure
Increased pain tolerance
More successful relationships
Increased immune system
Increase in resiliency
Tips to overcome negative thinking and to think positive:
Keep a thought journal:
Being aware of our negative thoughts is the first step to thinking positive. Once we are aware of our negative thoughts, we are able to challenge that thought and replace it with a constructive, positive thought. The following link has an example of a thought record you can use, or, you can create your own: https://psychologytools.com/worksheets/free/english_gb/cbt_thought_record_free_en-gb.pdf .
People who exercise regularly have less negative thoughts than those who don’t exercise! Exercise boosts serotonin (the feel-good hormone).
Surround yourself with positive people and build healthy relationships:
We are much more likely to feel good and think positive when we are surrounded by others who think positive too! Positive thinking is contagious; it is no wonder we enjoy being around positive people more so than negative people!
Comparing ourselves to others is a very unhealthy habit, and usually never results in positive thinking. Everyone in this world has different strengths, different families, different passions, etc. When you notice yourself comparing to others on social media, TV, etc., catch yourself and stop it! If you do catch yourself comparing to others, try listing off 5 qualities you love about yourself!
When we are grateful, we appreciate the things we already have! One of the quickest ways to shift your focus away from negativity is to list the things in your life you are grateful for. Practicing gratefulness can cause an immediate shift in your perspective! It could be helpful to keep a gratitude journal to remind yourself of all that you have.
Read positive quotes:
Find positive quotes in books or on the internet, and stick them around your house on sticky notes! Here are some of my favorite positive quotes:
- “Positive thinking evokes more energy, more initiative, and more happiness”
- “When you love what you have, you have everything you need”
- “Let your smile change the world, but don’t let your world change your smile”
- “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”
The power of positive thinking is incredible. Start challenging those negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts, and begin to recognize how much happier you start to feel!