If you know me, have read my book or articles, or have watched The BUILD Framework® Show I host, you will know that I try to keep things positive. I certainly feel it is more effective to focus on the positive when it comes to goal setting, personal growth, building relationships, leading others, and so forth. But this isn’t just a personal preference or a gimmick, it’s about being effective. It’s about making a conscious choice. And it’s about science!
According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. In fact, researchers at Kings College London found that a habit of prolonged negative thinking diminishes your brain’s ability to think, reason, and form memories. Essentially draining your brain’s resources.
By choosing to engage in negative thinking, we are quite literally choosing to weaken our other capacities, relationships, and opportunities. So, in essence, if you can change your way of thinking, you can literally change your life. Here are five ways to effectively reduce or eliminate negativity from your thinking:
- Replace your negative thoughts. Part of the problem is that negative thinking has become a bad habit. And like most habits, we end up acting reflectively without consciously acknowledging what we are doing or thinking. So, when you have a negative though, you need to consciously acknowledge it as negative and then consciously replace it with something positive about the same subject matter. This forces you to not only acknowledge the bad habit and replace it with a good habit, but it also forces you to start recognizing the good in situations. Here’s an example: you are standing in a long line at the grocery store waiting to check out and think, “This is so annoying and is taking forever.” Instead, what about thinking, “Gosh, we are so lucky to be able to go into a store and access virtually any type of food we want at any time.” Same scenario. Very different mindset.
- Don’t complain to others. When we verbalize our negativity we are doing several things. First, we are giving life to the negativity. Second, we are relaying to others that you are a negative person. Third, you are encouraging that thinking in others. Fourth, you are attracting like-minded people. If the saying is true that negativity breeds negativity, the converse is also true. And if you have to give a criticism, truly make it constructive, come from a good place, and balance it with positivity.
- Smile. Even though many of us are wearing masks during COVID, we can certainly smile with our eyes. Next time you are out and about, look around and see how many people are frowning, walking with their heads, down, and not smiling. A single smile can have a butterfly effect and it is a very easy thing to do.
- Actively model positivity. It starts internally with replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts and moves externally when it comes to not complaining and smiling. But there are many other ways to model positive thinking. When someone else is complaining to you, make an effort to point out something positive in their story. Ask questions from a place of positivity. Don’t ask your kids, “how was your day?” ask them, “what’s something you enjoyed doing today?” When we model positive thinking, we encourage others to do the same and attract people of the same mindset.
- Lead and inspire. This is actually the “L” in the building block of my book, The BUILD Framework®, and it most certainly applies to many aspects of our life. We can certainly lead and inspire others to be positive by modeling this behavior. But we can also talk openly about it. We can communicate with friends and family who seem to be down and help them pursue some of these same techniques. As a leader at work, you can make positivity part of your company’s mission and engage in practices that encourage and reward this behavior. It’s interesting, when many of us were in grade school, we would receive academic marks and citizenship marks. At some point, around high school or college, they stopped giving out citizenship marks. I’m not sure why. It seems like being recognized for positive contributions would be something we would want to continue to encourage into adulthood.
Ultimately, how you choose to think is your choice. And positive thinking is a free and worthwhile way to put yourself in the best possible position to be successful, personally and professional.
For more information about this subject and all aspects of The BUILD Framework®, consider getting a free copy of my book: https://johnpeitzman.com/free.