SUAS, Mental health and wellbeing

22 June, 2022

Practicing positive thinking by identifying positive thoughts

An image showing an olive green card with a tear revealing the word "positive" written down

Positive thinking can help us to move away from negative moods and to do good for ourselves and those around us. Paula, who is a member of our Service User and Supporters Council, shares the difference positive thinking makes for her.

To help deflect a negative mood, it can be helpful to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. This is something I’ve written about before, and I find it’s a very important thing to do. Experience teaches us that this process works for putting us back into a “plus” instead of a “minus” situation as far as our thoughts are concerned. Being positive instead of negative puts us in the driving seat and gives us back control of our lives. 

This process takes some time to become familiar with and to become a habit. The good news is that “habit by habit overcomes”: by practicing positive thinking, negative thinking dies down in the process. The more we practice positive thinking, the more negative thoughts are pushed away from us.

What is positive thinking?

What is positive thinking?

Let us suppose that you aren’t very familiar with positive thinking, because you have never had to use it very deliberately before.

Positive thinking means purposely and deliberately putting positive thoughts into your head, until they become automatic and make up much of your thinking in any one day. Positive thinking means training your mind to think in a way that benefits you. Negative thoughts can’t and don’t benefit you: they just rob you of your peace. 

Positive thinking is a point of view. Positive thinking is looking at your life in another way. Positive thinking is looking at things from another angle, one of being optimistic and hopeful

Positive thinking can work and can help us. It brings us to a better place. It opens the door to success in what we set out to achieve. It is like a good friend. 

How do you start positive thinking?

How do you start positive thinking?

You may be wondering, since positive thinking is such a good thing, how do I start the process? What positive thoughts do I need to tell myself so I can be happier?

There are many ways of beginning positive thinking and moving along that positive direction. I will outline the one I use myself, one that works for me. 

Starting a positive thought

Many people will use a mantra – a word, phrase or statement that they repeat often or that helps them to express a belief – such as “I am good; my life is good”. Others imagine themselves being successful at their work, or winning a race.  I find it easier to think of others doing the good; to me, it seems more credible, and easier to believe. 

I start my positive thinking process like this: “Fill your minds with everything that is true; everything that is noble; everything that is good and pure; everything that we love and honour; and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise”.

I do this to give myself peace and use this particular sentence, because it helps me to think outside myself. If you find this particular approach to positive thinking helpful, I’ll share how I progress it below. If it doesn’t work for you, it might be helpful to find another sentence or paragraph that works as a mantra for you.

Building positive thoughts

In total, there are eight parts to think about in the sentence above that I use as my mantra. That means there are lots of things available to put positive and happy thoughts into my mind. I need only one at a time. 

For example, I often use the word “noble” and the phrase “worthy of praise” to start off my stream of positive thoughts. I ask myself, what do I know about “noble” things?  What do I know about acts that are “worthy of praise”? Well, I know about people who are volunteering to go and help people in Ukraine, as just one example: I know about their heroism, their kindness, their thinking about the needs of others before their own needs.  They are a good example to me. So what can I do to help? I can’t go to Ukraine, but I can think of the needs of other people before my own, people I know here.

In a previous piece I’ve written, I mentioned how an English psychiatrist said that people with a mental health illness need to have someone to help apart from themselves. It doesn’t mean that you neglect yourself – no, not at all! It just means we all need to be kind to other people. Perhaps you can help a friend who needs your kindness. Thinking about others helps us.

Feeling the impact of positive thinking

So why not start your positive thought trajectory straight away, as I do, thinking about “noble” things, and things “worthy of praise”. Perhaps think about a relative who is good to you. How can you help them? Can you draw them a nice picture? Can you write them a poem? Give them a birthday card?  Get them a request played on the radio? Whatever you do, it will bless you as well as them. 

We are used to thanking the people who help us. But, now, people may thank you for what you do for them: that is a measure of how far you can come through positive thinking. You are helping others, just as you yourself are being helped. This whole process started because you had “noble” thoughts, or thoughts “worthy of praise”. 

Keep thinking of the “noble” things, and “things worthy of praise”. Then move onto some of the other six things mentioned in the mantra:  I’ll mention them again, because I find them so relevant:

“Fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be virtuous or worthy of praise”.

For example, when I begin to think about something that we “love” and “honour”, I find it helpful to imagine a charity organisation feeding people who are hungry, giving a drink to someone who is thirsty and so on. The point is to think of these things. I find that, soon, these positive thoughts take on a life of their own. I keep thinking of people who need support being helped, and my thoughts change from negative to positive. 

Why should you start positive thinking?

Why should you start positive thinking?

We all of us can focus on the good all around us that is being done. After a while, not only do we feel better because we think the happy thoughts of good being done, we decide that we will help others, too.  For example, if you are a young person living at home, can you help your parents with the dishes or can you cook dinner once a week? If you work in a library, could you read some information that might help visitors to the library choose a good book for them? If you are a gardener, could you mow an elderly neighbour’s lawn to make things easier for them? There are lots of small actions we can take as a result of our positive thoughts which can make a big difference. 

Whatever you choose to do, or even just to get used to positive thinking, start now.

“Fill your minds ……” now. This process has worked very well for me. It starts me on a positive thought trajectory, and keeps me there. I hope it works as well for you.

See more from Paula and other service users

See more from Paula and other service users

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