Today´s blog post is written by featured guest blogger, Zohaib Akhlaq, the founder of HowEntrepreneur.com
We often come across tough times in our life where it’s difficult to stay positive.
When your job is miserable, money is tight and life is just generally challenging, it’s often easier to slide into a funk, thinking that things are never going to get better and you’re destined to be a grump.
But if you let that happen, you open yourself up to a whole host of problems, ranging from strained relationships (who wants to hang out with a Debbie Downer?) to serious health problems, including cardiovascular problems and substance abuse.
The good news is that you can take control of your thoughts and shift your thinking from “negative” to “positive.”
Try practicing a few of these behaviors the next time you catch yourself spiraling into negativity, and watch your mental and physical health improve dramatically.
1. Practice Mindfulness
In today’s always-open, 24/7 world, it’s easy to be pulled in multiple directions and feel like you need to keep multiple plates spinning all the time; however, constantly trying to pay attention to the messages coming in on the phone and the computer while you have a conversation and watch television is a sure fire way to cause stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Instead of constantly multitasking, take time to notice the world around you — pay attention to the sound of leaves rustling as the breeze blows or how the sun feels on your skin as you walk to work.
Focus on one thing at a time and be in the moment, and you’ll see your stress and negative feelings diminish.
2. Is This Real?
One simple trick that forensic psychology graduate programs recommend to immediately defuse negative thoughts is to ask a simple question: Are these thoughts true?
Many times, we get caught up in negative thoughts that aren’t really true. Perhaps you hear a voice saying that something terrible is going to happen or that you aren’t capable of doing something.
Before allowing that thought to take hold, stop for a moment and consider whether it’s really true. Unless there is a compelling reason for the thought to be true, dismiss it.
Turn it into something positive: “I’m going to try my best on this project” instead of “I’m doomed for failure.”
3. Make a Gratitude List
It’s quite simple: When you acknowledge and feel grateful for what you have, you don’t have time for thinking about what you lack.
And if you’re like most people, when you start listing everything good in your life, you’ll immediately start feeling better and more positive.
4. Help Others
Helping others accomplishes several things when it comes to shifting how you think.
First, giving back to those who are less fortunate — or even just easing someone else’s load — provides perspective.
You might be frustrated with your job and wish you had a bigger or nicer place to live, but spending some time volunteering in a homeless shelter can help you see how much you have.
Second, being kind and helpful to others increases the chance they will extend the same courtesy to you, helping you feel better and more positive about your life and the world around you.
5. Picture Your Safe Place
There’s no denying it: Maintaining a positive, upbeat attitude is good for your health. Multiple studies and anecdotal evidence have proven those who stay optimistic, even when facing setbacks, are generally healthier and less stressed.
Sometimes, taking a short “mental break” can help you get your thoughts back on a positive track. Taking a few moments to slow down and picture yourself in a relaxing place — whether that’s the beach, the mountains or simply a quiet room — helps you refocus your thoughts and clear out any worries or negative feelings that threaten to take over.
Focus on your breathing, and visualize yourself relaxing. Once you do so, you’ll feel the negativity floating away.
Some people are naturally positive thinkers and don’t have any trouble keeping a cheerful and upbeat mindset.
However, even the happiest and most positive people have rough days, so having some go-to strategies for stopping negativity in its tracks can stop problems before they start, and keep you healthy mentally and physically.
Zohaib Akhlaq is the founder of HowEntrepreneur.com where he teach entrepreneurs and startup owners something new daily. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.