- A positive mindset includes positive-oriented thoughts, beliefs, values, and attitudes, which are key factors for well-being.
- Some tips for building a positive mindset include focusing on strengths and positive qualities, and practicing gratitude and self-compassion.
- Some other strategies include shifting attention away from negative thoughts by taking a cold shower and trying to think of best-case scenarios.
Some researchers have proposed that a positive mindset includes happiness, confidence, being in control, stability, motivation, and optimism (Barry, Folkard, & Ayliffe, 2014). In particular, a positive mindset includes positive-oriented thoughts, beliefs, values, and attitudes—key factors for well-being (learn more about your well-being with this well-being quiz). So let's talk about how to cultivate a more positive mindset.
1. Focus on Your Strengths
Many of us focus on the things that are wrong with us, the things we're not good at, or the things we've failed at. But if we want to cultivate a positive mindset, we're better served by focusing on our strengths. This shift in focus can help us feel more positively about ourselves.
2. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is about more than just saying "thanks." It's about searching for things to be grateful for every day. We might practice and strengthen this skill by writing gratitude lists or a gratitude journal. After some time, our brains will get better at recognizing things to be thankful for.
3. Focus on Your Positive Qualities
Ask yourself, what makes you who you are? Are you strong, detail-oriented, resilient, or something else? Make a list of your positive qualities. Reflecting on these can help you more easily focus on the good parts of yourself.
4. Practice Self-Compassion
Our inner voice often tells us everything we are doing wrong but it can sometimes forget to remind us about what we are doing right. That's why cultivating self-compassion can help improve our mindset. Practice self-compassion by taking a few moments to treat yourself kindly, carefully, and gently.
5. Practice Self-Care
Part of developing a more positive mindset might involve cultivating the belief that we are worth taking care of. We're allowed to have breaks, to feel good, and to engage in self-care. By taking better care of ourselves, we might think about ourselves in more positive ways that help us to have more positive experiences.
6. Shift Your Attention
It turns out we have a negativity bias that makes it easier to focus on the negative than focus on the positive. Practice shifting your attention by intentionally but gently moving your mind away from negative thoughts. If your mind is going down a rabbit hole and you're ruminating on something bad that happened, put the breaks on those thoughts by going for a run, taking a cold shower, or focusing on the details of an object in the room. These strategies can help short circuit your negative thoughts and help you focus on the positive.
7. Be More Optimistic
To practice optimism, think about how something might turn out better than expected. Try to imagine the best-case scenarios or focus on the good things that may happen in the future. This shift to optimism can help you have more positive expectations, which can lead to all sorts of good outcomes (Benson & Friedman, 1996).
8. Try Loving-Kindness Meditation
This type of meditation involves generating love and compassion, first toward yourself, then toward close others, then toward strangers, and then toward all living beings (Fredrickson et al., 2008). Doing loving-kindness meditation can help you get better at creating loving thoughts.
9. Set Meaningful Goals
Setting meaningful long-term goals can help us gain clarity on what really matters to us and what we want to achieve, so we may feel more meaningfully connected to what we do (Emmons, 2003). When setting meaningful goals, be sure that your goals fit your core values to ensure you're focusing your efforts on what matters to you.
There are many different ways to grow a more positive mindset. Hopefully, some of the practices provided here seem like a good fit for what you are looking for.
This post was adapted from an article published by The Berkeley Well-Being Institute.
Barry, J. A., Folkard, A., & Ayliffe, W. (2014). Validation of a brief questionnaire measuring positive mindset in patients with uveitis. Psychology, Community & Health, 3(1), 1-10.
Benson, H., & Friedman, R. (1996). Harnessing the power of the placebo effect and renaming it remembered wellness. Annual Review of Medicine-Selected Topics in the Clinical Sciences, 47, 193-200.
Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of personality and social psychology, 95(5), 1045.
Emmons, R. A. (2003). Personal goals, life meaning, and virtue: wellsprings of a positive life.