How to Cultivate Positive Thoughts

It can be difficult to always keep a positive attitude and although we would like to keep seeing only the positives in what surrounds us, it can be the case of “easier said than done”.  Our upbringing, the onslaughts of the world and other outside factors often play massive roles in how we perceive the world as well as ourselves.

The question then becomes, “How can we cultivate positive thoughts?”.  This is a very vast subject and although I will try to keep it simple and as highly informative as possible, please note that I cannot cover all relative sub-topics in this blog.

Because events trigger our thoughts and emotions, it effects the way in which we behave.  Think of it this way, somebody does something to you, your thoughts goes into a certain direction which is influenced by your attitudes, beliefs and the meaning you attach to that event, your emotions then give you healthy or unhealthy feelings and depending on your thought process, it influences the way you react, either constructive or self-defeating.  It is here that it gets a bit more complicated as you might want to change the way your thought processes work so that the outcome can be more constructive and positive to your overall personal world.

It is only human for you to probably pay more attention to the one criticism instead of the ten compliments that you received.  If you do notice that you are doing this, your locus of control is external where you believe that you may have little or no control over what other people do.  You could be more passive and accepting and when you do accomplish something, you may attribute this to luck instead of your own skills and talents.  To try to change this external viewpoint to a more positive internal standpoint, you can practice on doing one small positive activity a day.  Focus then on the good parts even though it might not be perfect.  The happiness that these small positive activities create will add up and therefore you will be able to regulate your emotions in a more positive way when reacting to events and which parts of these events you pay attention to.  Here you will be building on your internal locus of control, which means that with a higher internal locus of control, you believe more in your own ability to control yourself and your influence on the outside world.  Your belief in yourself and your ability to change things may lead to increased confidence where you will be able to take the information at hand and help influence people and the situations that surround you.

But now you might ask, how do I challenge my negative thoughts?  It might not be easy at the beginning, but with practice, you will be able to accomplish this much quicker and easier.  Imagine that you are a judge in a court room.  Your thoughts are sitting in front of you and you must decide what the accuracy of this thought is.  You get the evidence from both the prosecutor and the defence attorney; it is their job to gather the evidence in support or against your thoughts.  Now, remember that you can only use the evidence that is presented to you if it is a verifiable fact.  You as a judge are not allowed to assume, guess or use your opinions as facts.  The time has arrived, and you must come to a verdict.  Is the thought accurate and fair or are all claims that the thought presented false?  Ask yourself if you are attempting to interpret the presented situation without all the evidence?  Are there any evidence contrary to your thoughts?  If you look at the situation from a more positive perspective, how is it different then?  You might even want to bring in a trusted source to consult on the matter, meaning that you might want to talk to a friend to find out what they think about the situation to give you unbiased and honest feedback.

By having the ability of being aware of your emotions, you will be able to stay more flexible in your thought process and thereby positively direct your behaviour.  You will be able to adapt more easily, become more conscientious, use your initiative more fully and optimise your optimism and achievement.

Other ways to cultivate positive thoughts:

  • Self-Belief. This is where you believe in your ability to achieve your goals.  Focus on experiences where you were successful.  Do you have other strengths that you can draw on that you can use to your advantage?  It is a conscious decision to believe in yourself.  Surround yourself with positive people and when you see the success of other people who have similar skills and abilities as you, it is likely that their successes will encourage you to believe in your own abilities that you can also achieve success.
  • Do you believe that you will experience good outcomes in life?  Can you explain the setbacks with integrity?  It is good to admit your mistakes and to take responsibility for your actions.  See what you can learn from your setbacks, move forward and use your newly learnt knowledge for future events and life knowledge.
  • Adaptability to Change. Do not dwell on the past.  See change as an exciting opportunity for self-development.  Rather than focussing on the past, rather put your energy into the present to be able to shape your future.  By being able to do this, you will be able to adapt your behaviour and approach to events by how you respond to the changing circumstances.
  • Keeping Calm under Pressure. Keep your cool.  If you do feel that the situation is getting out of control and that you are losing control of your emotions, remove yourself either physically or mentally.  Take deep breaths and re-evaluate the situation in a more controlled and calm manner.
  • Finding Solutions. You might want to seek support from others for their help and support when dealing with difficult situations.  It may be good to take a step back and relook the whole situation from another clear minded perspective.  If it is possible, write down your problem and use your imagination and past experiences to find solutions.
  • Identifying your Triggers. Become self-aware of what your weaknesses are.  If you know what your triggers are, you will be able to identify reactions that aren’t useful.  Replace these non-useful behaviours with more positive behaviours.  You will then also be able to identify which skills you require to control your emotions and behaviour more effectively.  Think of it this way.  If you tell yourself “I am not good at this”, just add the word “yet” to it.  You aren’t good at it yet, but you are working on your skills to be able to effectively handle and work through a challenging situation once you have become more acquainted with the required skill.

Cultivating positive thoughts are a process.  You need to consciously work on it and draw resources in to support you.  Become resourceful, find emotional support, take control of yourself and your impulses, regulate your self-talk, bring humour back into your life and work on skills that will help you through difficult times when negative thoughts want to consume you.

Roy T, Bennett said the following “Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.”.  He also said “Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals.  If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more.”.

As I said before, there are so many aspects linked to this topic that I really cannot cover everything here.  If you do struggle with negative thoughts and cannot beat the punishment that your mind and emotions are putting you through, please get help and speak to somebody to give you guidance and support where necessary and where possible.  Remember that therapy can help by providing a non-judgemental and safe environment where you can discuss matters openly and get the correct tools to assist you with your life challenges.  Don’t wait until it is too late.

Thank you very much for reading my blog.  I truly hope that it helped somebody, somewhere.  Please send any feedback or comments to and remember to have a look out for a new blog every week.

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