I think it is fair to say the majority of us would love to focus on the positives rather than the negatives in our life.
Do you focus on the worst in situations?
Do you focus on the negatives in a situation rather than focusing on the positives?
What if you could train yourself to focus on the positives in all situations?
How would your life be different?
Before we look at 3 ways to help us focus on the positives in our lives, I want to touch on what negative thoughts do to your brain and then compare what positives thoughts do to your brain.
What do negative thoughts do to your brain?
First let’s look at what negative thoughts do to our brain.
Do you feel bad about things such as:
- not exercising?
- not eating healthy?
- the lack of willpower you have?
- how you feel lazy or have no motivation?
Or you have a huge to do list or deadline to meet and your thoughts turn to panic and anxiety. You think; “how on earth am I going to get all tis done?”
When in this state of mind your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative emotions of fear, anger, and stress.
What can positive thoughts do to your brain?
Author and leading Positive Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson’s research suggests when you experience positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life.
These findings were among the first that proved positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.
Example: Your to do list is huge. You think “how on the earth am I going to get everything done,” You are overwhelmed, you are anxious, you don’t know how you are going to do it. Your anxiety is so great you don’t know where to start. You are stressed, you choose to eat fast food and your brain has been closed off and you are focused on all the negatives and you make decisions you would not normally make in a normal state.
What if you were able to focus on the positives? “Yes I have a huge to do list, yes it it’s going to be challenge, but I will have a good night sleep, I will get up early and exercise and then I will be ready to attack my to do list. What’s best, is when I get through my tasks our family is going away for the weekend.”
In the example; by taking a positive approach you open up possibilities, you have accepted it; it will be a challenge but you have a positive mindset to go and achieve what you need to.
3 Ways to Focus on the Positives
Okay, this is awesome but how do you increase your positive thinking?
Everyone wins a prize, I’m going to tell you.
Fredrickson and her colleagues found people who meditate daily have greater positive emotions than those who do not, leading to long term skills.
Fredrickson’s research uncovered after three months of meditating daily people developed mindfulness, a greater purpose in life, felt a greater sense of social support and experienced a decrease in illness symptoms.
A terrific resource to help with meditation is an APP called Head Space. A 10 minute daily guided meditation.
2. Writing about a positive from the day
Again, Fredrickson and her team conducted a research of 90 College students. Half wrote about a positive experience from the day and the second group wrote about a control topic.
Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health centre and experienced fewer illnesses.
An awesome way to go about focusing on the positives from your day is to keep a journal next to your bed. Before going to sleep spend 2 minutes to write down a positive experience you had during your day.
3. Play — schedule time to play in your life.
We schedule meetings, conference calls, weekly events, and other responsibilities into our daily calendars. Why not schedule time to play?
When was the last time you blocked out an hour on your calendar just to explore and experiment? When was the last time you intentionally allocated time to have fun?
Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotion. Schedule time for play and adventure so that you can experience contentment and joy, and explore and build new skills.
So where to from here?
- Schedule time in your day to meditate for 10min
- Spend 2 minutes to write down a positive from the day
- Schedule in play time. – Plan to do something fun with loved one or friend.
These are your 3 steps to build positive emotion.
I challenge everyone to do it for the next 7 days. That is achievable. Not only you do it, but do it with your whole family. Teaching children to focus on the positives in life will open up a world of possibilities and opportunities.
Please leave a comment below. We would love to know methods you use that help you to focus on the positives.
Growing With Gratitude Blog
Email: [email protected]
KidsMatter Primary School’s Programs Guide