How to Nix Negative Thoughts and Replace Stress with Happiness
Our thoughts become our reality. It may sound silly but studies show that the things we most often think about ruminate in our subconscious and emerge by effecting our communication, our health and our productivity — virtually every aspect of our lives.
Research reports that 40 percent of our overall happiness is controlled by our thoughts. This is likely because a ton of what happens in our brain translates to our attitude, our actions and our behaviors.
For example, if you’ve ever overslept your alarm and woke up frazzled, you might have thought to yourself, “How could I have missed my alarm? What is wrong with me? I am so unprepared for the day!”
And then, maybe later on you important phone call or been unprepared for a presentation that same day. If that’s happened to you, it’s because you allowed a negative mindset to become your reality. Too many of us do this constantly.
But before you freak about your noggin’s negativity, I’d like to make a few connections between certain types of negative thought and the ways they effect our daily lives. Also, you can balance a negative with a positive — so, I’m going to share some powerful positive strategies to negate negativity, eliminate the stress it causes and improve your overall happiness.
A pessimistic thought process involves assuming a worst case scenario outcome or rationale associated with any occurrence.
Pessimistic thought processes also allow us to believe that negative events, possibilities or feelings cannot be changed — they often assume negativity is permanent. For example, let’s say you had a bad day and somebody asked for your advice while you were in a hurry. Pessimistic people might think, “I should never befriend anybody because I have no time to be a good friend.”
This type of thinking stresses us out by setting unrealistic expectations for others and ourselves. Stress created by negative thought processes can cause life interfering lack of engagement with the positive aspects of life, even clinical depression. But here’s the good news:
Implementing more optimistic thinking habits puts pessimism in reverse:
- reflect on your logic when predicting negative outcomes
- repeat positive thoughts, like “this is temporary,” during negative events
- challenge negative assumptions by brainstorming positive options
How to Stop Worrying
Everyone worries, to some degree, about the past, present and future. However, studies show that 85% or more of the things we worry about end up with a positive or neutral outcome. What means there’s an 85% chance that what you’re most worried about right now is going to turn out just fine.
Considering possibilities is not a bad strategy when it comes to preventing failures, distress and negative events. However, there are two ways in which worrying can become negative and even destructive.
The first is when worries are so frequent and intense that they evolve into chronic anxiety. The second is when your worries are paralyzing you from taking any action to prevent negative outcomes.
Both anxiety and inaction prevent us from thinking positively when results in the inability to make choices that create happiness.
Eliminate disabling worry and approach these thought processes with a positive strategy like:
- Consider worst case scenarios and create action plans to avoid them
- Create meaningful goals that you’ll be excited about reaching
- Write down worries and jot the exact positive/opposite thought next to it
- Catch yourself thinking negatively, and replace the negative thought with a positive thought.
It’s important to be self-aware; however, most of us are actually our own worst critics. Talking to yourself in a negative voice can limit your ability to reach your fullest potential.
This process of negative self-talk can stem from insecurities about past experiences, fear of uncontrollable outcomes and opinions of others that we’ve accepted as our own. An example of this is someone who is often late and repeatedly hurries to be on time.
As they’re rushing, they’re thinking about how they’re never on time and how that must appear irresponsible to others. Telling themselves that they appear irresponsible is exactly the same as believing that they are, in fact, irresponsible.
The simplest way to overcome limitations associated with negative self-talk is finding your own positive voice by:
- repeating affirmatives like those you would say to a young child
- visualizing the most perfect best friend and imagining what they might say to you
- Frequently expressing gratitude to yourself for all of the positive things you do and the countless blessings that permiate even the most challenging situations.
As we move through life, more opportunities to think negatively will arise. At some point, we all have to make the conscious decision to strategically alter negative thought processes and improve our mindset. In doing so, we begin to view things in a positive light; we become healthier, more energetic and just generally happier with who we are and where we’re headed.
Positive thinking creates positive behavior. This improves our effectiveness in serving others as friend’s family members and business people. The key is removing those potentially harmful negative thinking habits and replacing them with more productive, positive thought processes at every opportunity.
Changing from a pessimist to an optimist is really all about learning a new skill: just like learning to ride a bike or mastering a new dance step. At first you have to really practice and make mistakes. Eventually though, it becomes a stress free automatic habit that leads to much higher happiness levels.
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