We all remember the story of “The Little Engine That Could.” A long train can’t get over the mountain, but is refused help by many of the larger engines until the little blue engine offers to pull him over. He repeats the mantra “I think I can” and is able to pull the train up and over the mountain.
The story teaches children the value of optimism. But adults can also use a dose of positive thinking. If you’re facing an arduous task or a time of extreme stress, an “I think I can” attitude will go a long way.
Here are five ways to improve your life with positive thinking:
1. Recognize Negative Thoughts
Wait just a second, you’re probably thinking … I thought she said to think positively. Negative thoughts happen. You might think you’re never going to get out of debt. Or you might feel stuck in a dead-end job. But the key to not letting negative thoughts consume you is to acknowledge them without dwelling on them.
During meditation, when the mind is supposed to be still, thoughts continue to come and go. Yogis say to not push thoughts away, but to let them go away effortlessly, just like they came. The same can be done for negative thoughts.
2. Focus on the Positives
But don’t be quick to let those positive thoughts go by the wayside. There are those precious moments each day when you wake up next to the love of your life, hear your favorite song on the radio or get the perfect mayo-to-bread ratio on your turkey sandwich. When you find yourself smiling or filled with a sense of joy and contentment, hold onto that feeling as long as possible and let it carry you through the rest of the day.
3. Know That All Challenges are Temporary
When times are tough, my mom always reminds me that bad things happen in threes. Sometimes the challenges are small: An alarm clock that didn’t go off, a burnt piece of toast and a spilled cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
But if you are faced with hurdles that impact more than just your attitude for your commute to work, remember the age-old proverb, “This, too, shall pass.” Know that all suffering is just temporary. Reminding yourself that the sun will come out tomorrow — or in a few days, weeks or months — can help you tackle the tasks at hand to break on through to the other side.
4. Don’t Be a Negative Nancy
Debbie Downer brought big laughs on “Saturday Night Live” because everyone can relate to knowing someone who constantly rains on their parade. Don’t be the downer of your group. Your presence will be much more appreciated if you can positively contribute to the conversation rather than constantly pointing out the negative.
5. Find Some Serenity
The Serenity Prayer, made popular by many twelve-step programs, asks for acceptance of the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that can and the wisdom to know the difference. We can all use a little more serenity in our lives. Things aren’t always going to go as planned and how we react will determine whether or not we have a positive or negative experience.
Alicia is a content coordinator for a tech company and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her articles have been published by Her Fitness Hut, Examiner.com, and Ask Miss A.