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Harness Your Thoughts and Choose Hopefulness

Practicing positive self-talk leads to a healthier mindset.

Source: Rido81/BigStock

If you want to live your best life and master the keys to health and healing, the place to start is by harnessing your thoughts.

Over the course of three decades, I have counseled scores of people struggling with many different types of problems. Each of these painful situations has confirmed a truth I learned years ago: What goes on in your head will come out in your actions, attitudes, and ambitions.

Your thoughts—the messages you speak or think to yourself every day—profoundly and powerfully determine every aspect of your life. What you tell yourself about yourself can radically influence your happiness, your relationships, and your physical well-being.

This presents a good news / bad news scenario. If your thoughts are consistently affirming, optimistic, and constructive, your life is sure to advance in a positive direction. But if your thoughts are consistently critical, pessimistic, and destructive, your life will advance in a negative direction.

The Importance of Self-Talk

Begin paying close attention to your self-talk and those silent-but-powerful internal messages you continually send yourself. Your internal voice is the most powerful and influential voice in your life.

Many people tell me they’re stuck in a dead-end job, anxious about their children, struggling to kick a bad habit, or worried about finances. Though I don’t dismiss the reality of these problems, most of the difficulties we wrestle with are internal rather than external. What goes on in our mind, heart, and soul largely determines where we’ll eventually “arrive” with any issue we face.

Think of one aspect of your life in which you’re concerned about the direction you’re heading. It might be career, marriage, parenting, friendships, education, or physical fitness. Now consider how a small shift in attitude and actions might alter your course and, ultimately, your destination.

Old ways of thinking often put up a fierce fight when challenged by something new. But you are not a mere bystander witnessing a boxing match between good thoughts and bad thoughts. It’s within your power to choose which ideas you feed and which you starve.

Examples of Positive Self-Talk

Nurture the helpful, healing thoughts while banishing the ones that bring you down and cause you doubt. What difference would it make if your self-talk were affirmative and hopeful, with messages like these?

  • I respect myself and deserve to be respected.
  • I have plenty of shortcomings but am becoming the person I was fully meant to be.
  • I feel good about the way I look, and I don’t need to compare myself with anyone.
  • I am valuable and worthy of love just the way I am.

When you use self-talk like this, a new world of self acceptance begins to unfold, carrying you another step closer to your goal of feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally. The changes will take some time, but believe in yourself even when you don’t feel you can. Your subconscious hears and believes everything you say, so feed it positive, constructive thoughts.

Thankfully, we all have access to hope, and we can choose hopefulness as our prevailing approach to life. This is the mental and emotional framework that supports happiness—even when the winds of negativity buffet it.

How to Make Optimism and Hopefulness Foundations in Your Life

But how do you make optimism the foundation of your life? How does happiness become the norm rather than the exception? The change from pessimism to optimism takes effort and practice. Your optimistic muscles have atrophied, while your pessimistic muscles are as pumped up as a bodybuilder’s.

Begin with small steps. For every pessimistic thought, worry, or fear that comes to mind, intentionally stop and search for a positive, optimistic response. Deliberately replace discouraging thoughts with encouraging ones.

It is possible to learn to live above your circumstances. Do you know someone whose attitude is amazing, even though they’ve gone through terrible things in life? Do you know someone whose well-being seems to be impervious to the ups and downs of daily life? These optimists have one thing in common: They make the daily choice to look for the good in life, even amid difficult circumstances.

If you do have a friend like this, be assured the person is not in denial. Just the opposite is true. In order to shake off the chains of negativity, we must begin with the truth. When we acknowledge and accept our circumstances, and exercise optimism, our lives can become happier, and our outlook is hopeful.