I’ve read a lot of self-help books in my life. I’ve flicked through the pages of everything from ‘Why Men Love Bitches’ to ‘The Secret’ to ‘How to Make Friends and Influence People’. Do you know what the overwhelming message is in nearly every one of these self-help programmes, no matter how they dress it up? The power of thinking positively about yourself and your life. There. That’s it. Hopefully we’ve saved you a bit of cash.
Thinking positively changes your mindset and the way that you interact with the world around you. By looking at the world in a positive light, you’re much more likely to feel happy and motivated, attracting positive people and experiences. Negative thoughts, on the other hand, stop us from pursuing the things that we desire and place a self-imposed limit on our personal growth. Adopting an optimistic attitude can do wonders for our physical and mental health as well.
So, why am I writing this blog and talking to you about the power of positivity today? Well, a friend of mine recently asked me how I stay so upbeat and laid back. I said ‘I just focus on the positive’. She wondered how I did that and then I started thinking about it and realised that something spooky had happened – life was imitating art!
I didn’t always think so positively about myself or my life (hence the self-help books). What I can tell you is that when I was younger, I read a lot of books, I watched a lot of movies, I listened to a lot of music and I thought a lot about myself and the way I perceived the world. I could lie to you and say that I had a ‘profound realisation’ or that I went on a ‘3 day spirit walk in the desert and saw a vision’ but ultimately, it was a song that started my journey on the road to positivity.
‘Better Get to Livin” written by Dolly Parton and Kent Wells, released in 2007 and performed by the magnificent Dolly herself was the song that helped me change my attitude. If you want to save yourself years of introspection I highly recommend that you look up this song on YouTube, download it via Itunes or add it to your library on Spotify. Want to know what the first lines of that song are?
People always comin’ up to me and askin’
“Dolly, what’s your secret?
With all you do, your attitude
Just seems to be so good
How do you keep it?”
Spookily similar to what my friend asked me, right?
I’ve always loved a bit of Dolly Parton. Her songs are fantastic, her movies always make me smile and her attitude is amazing. Luckily for me, she had the answers that I was looking for at a time in my life when all I felt was ‘down’. Now, I could dissect this upbeat, often overlooked tune and show you all the ways that Dolly sings about the power of positivity in the lyrics of this song but really, all you have to do is listen to it to get an understanding of some simple, powerful, country wisdom that we can all put into practice straight away. No need for self-help gurus and programmes, just spare 4 minutes of your time to listen to the song and start your journey on the road to thinking positively.
But listening to the song isn’t all you need to do. It’s a great start and playing it once a week to remind you of your good intentions will help, sure. Like most things in life, switching to thinking positively won’t happen overnight if you’re not used to it. It takes a bit of work and a lot of practice. Ultimately though, it’s so worthwhile and the benefits to your life are so good that embarking on the journey to positive thinking is a no-brainer, especially when we have these great tips to get you started:-
Change Your Mindset
Changing your mindset seems like a pretty big task, right? How are you supposed to change the way your brain works and the learned behaviours that you have developed throughout your life? The answer is simple:- start small and practice. Whenever I picture something bad happening in my head, I picture it again in a more positive light.
For instance, when I’ve just watched a horror movie and I go to bed and try to sleep, I often find my brain imagining that there’s a monster at the foot of the bed and if I open my eyes, they’ll get me (I know, I know, I’m in my forties but imagination can be a powerful thing). To overcome this fear or negative thought, I simply imagine it again in a different way. In short, I picture myself kicking that monster’s ass! I then open my eyes and obviously, there’s nothing there but I feel strong and happy and that fear or ‘negative thought’ has subsided. If I can’t get the scary thought out of my head, I just picture myself kicking that ass again and again until I’m satisfied (in my imagination, I’m Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
Reframing a negative thought is the first step in retraining your brain to think positively. You can use this simple technique in all aspects of your life. If you’re worried about a work project and you can’t stop thinking about all of the things that could go wrong, start reframing it by thinking about all the things that could go right instead. If you’re scared of doing something, try imagining the way that you will feel once you’ve accomplished that task. Soon, with practice, every negative thought you have will be reframed into a positive one.
Look on the Bright Side
Inevitably, things will happen in your life that you have no control over. COVID-19 is a great example of this. For me, the temptation was to start worrying about catching it and about my loved ones catching it (even though I know they are all sensible people who follow the rules). Thinking about all the negatives of the situation could have quite easily plummeted me into a pool of depression and anxiety.
Whilst I had some worries and concerns, I tried to focus on the positive aspects of isolating and staying at home. I no longer had a long commute to the office so I could sleep in a bit longer. I didn’t have to worry about getting suited and booted every day. I had time to make lunch and do a bit of housework during the day, leaving my evenings free.
In short, it’s always easy to see the glass as half empty but that can immobilise you and limit your potential. Try thinking of the glass as half full. Turn the situation on it’s head and try and see the positives and benefits of every situation, even when it seems as though you’re surrounded by negativity.
Take 5 minutes out of your day and think of 5 things that make you feel grateful and thankful. Focus on how they make you feel and the positive emotions they evoke. If you’re having trouble thinking of 5 things, remember they don’t have to be big. It could be anything from the love you feel for a family member to the feel of a cool breeze on a hot day. It’s about focusing your mind on the all the positive things in your life, no matter how big or how small.
Adopting this simple practice will put you in a positive frame of mind right from the outset of your day. There are so many things in life to be thankful for. Take some time out, close your eyes and think of them and you’ll be smiling in no time.
We hope that this blog has provided you with some food for thought when it comes to the power of positivity (and Dolly Parton). Adopting a positive mindset really can change your life and the attitude that you have when you interact with people and the world around you does affect your experiences. In the words of Dolly’s song, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff, keep your chin up, just hang tough’. She may not be a guru, but she’s the only self-help I need these days.