Whether you realize it or not, the negative experiences you have lived through often influence your decisions. Your brain learns from difficult situations and painful memories, and these experiences get sealed into your brain.
Your brain naturally wants to do whatever it can to protect you by avoiding a recurrence of the negative experience. However, continually focusing on the negative can hinder our ability to find the positive and live a happy life.
Success is based on recognizing and going after opportunities as they present themselves -- and that often requires having the inner fortitude to take a chance and navigate difficult waters. The more you exude positivity, the better your chances of finding lasting success and happiness. All it takes is a little training and focus, and you can rewire your brain toward the positive.
1. Release your inner negativity
If you allow yourself to dwell on the negative, then habitual skepticism will run your life and influence your decisions. You are effectively resigning yourself to a cycle of hesitation and distrust. It is hard, if not impossible, to build success when you have resigned yourself to negativity.
The first step is to let your negativity go. It’s time to focus on the affirmative. Take control of your mind and direct it toward the positive. You can start doing this by deliberately and frequently centering your thoughts on things that make you happy. Stop letting negatives limit your potential and drag you down.
Start consciously taking a different approach to your thinking. One simple tip is to spend a moment calming your mind when you are feeling frazzled, stressed or distracted. Slow things down. Take a few deep breaths and empty your mind of negative thoughts. Focus on filling your lungs with air. Now you are ready for a positive reboot.
2. Retrain your brain to flip negatives into positives
Even after years of subconsciously focusing on the negative, it is possible to retrain your brain to perceive and focus on the positive. The idea is to recognize and center your thoughts on the silver linings that are embedded in any negative situation.
The first step is to become aware of your thinking patterns. Start paying more attention to the flow of your thoughts. Is your brain preoccupied by constantly focusing on negative outcomes? Are you stuck in a loop of cynical thinking? Recognize that negative thinking isn’t going to support you in creating long-term success. You need a balanced mind as you decide on which opportunities are the best to take.
The next step is to retrain your brain to see positive patterns. Instead of scrutinizing a situation to spot the negatives, we need to teach our brains to redirect our thoughts and scan for the positives.
One simple way to begin doing this is to scan for three daily positive things. Every day, make a list of three good things that happened to you and reflect on what caused them to happen. Focus on the little wins you have each day and use those to empower and motivate yourself.
3. Learn the art of pivoting from negative thoughts
Once you recognize that you are caught in a continuous loop ofnegative reoccurring thoughts, it’s time to break free by pivoting.
Ask yourself what the opposite of the negative thought is. If you were to turn 180 degrees away from this antagonistic thinking, where would you find yourself? Focus on thinking about something from a positive perspective. Practice visualizing a more positive outcome. Then think about the steps you need to take to make that happen.
If you tend to be anxious or apprehensive, pay attention to when you are feeling that way. What causes those emotions? When you feel yourself slipping into a negative cycle of anxiety or worry, remind yourself that these negative thoughts are holding you back from making positive choices in your life. Consider how you can reframe your thoughts into a more positive perspective. Find a confident and assertive alternative to a negative impulse.
Recognize that your mind will want to slip back into old patterns, and remind yourself that you're reconditioning yourself to have positive thoughts and take positive actions. Once you develop the habit of pivoting toward the positive, your brain will become predisposed to doing so.
4. Create a cycle of joy by paying it forward
When we are nice to others -- when we engage in acts of kindness and make others feel good -- we boost our own happiness. Even small acts that make others smile can bring us joy. Doing something nice is also a powerful way to halt a negativity loop.
For instance, you may be feeling anxious about an upcoming meeting or stressed about a recent interaction with a friend or colleague, and your usual pattern of thinking is to worry about it. Instead of fretting, try doing something compassionate for another person.
You’ll find that taking a moment to do a small favor, buy someone a cup of coffee or help a stranger out can give you a little boost. It’s like an instant shot of happiness. Use those positive feelings to channel your thinking into a positive pattern.
5. Bring positivity into the present moment
To truly reprogram your mind to be more positive, you have to bring positivity into your everyday life. You have to focus on having a positive outlook in your present moment.
Not tomorrow. Not next week. Right now. You can do this through the practice of mindfulness, which is being aware of your thoughts and feelings in the present moment. It’s about recognizing your emotions, what your body is sensing and what you are thinking about, and allowing these sensations to occur without judging them.
You can then harness this awareness to redirect your thoughts. Once you get into the habit of mindfulness, you are no longer allowing your subconscious mind to drive your decisions. You are teaching your brain to sense when you are slipping into negativity and take action toward the positive. It allows you to focus your thoughts and attention toward a more balanced and positive approach.
To help redirect your thoughts, try writing down a list of questions you can ask yourself to bring positivity into your present moment. Here are some examples:
- What can I feel grateful about right now?
- What can I do right now that is fun or gives me joy?
- How can I demonstrate love or gratitude right now?
- What is something I can do to surprise someone or give someone else happiness right now?
As you get into the habit of continually checking in with yourself and directing your thoughts toward the positive, it will eventually become second nature.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.