Learning the art of positive Thinking
Optimism, enthusiasm and a refusal to tolerate boredom are characteristics
that are often associated with young people. There is no reason why this should
be the case, however, and one of the best ways to remain psychologically young
is to cultivate the art of positive thinking.
Foster a sense of optimism
Life brings many experiences: some positive and some negative. As people get
older they may fall into the trap of focusing on negative experiences and
unwittingly cultivating a sense of pessimism about the future. Pessimism can
be further encouraged by media messages that value youth and denigrate
Resolve to clear out your emotional baggage and foster a sense of optimism
about the present and the future. Optimism has huge benefits for both
psychological and physical
health - it can even boost your
to illness. Make a list of the life experiences that have affected you
positively and negatively. Compare the positive list with the negative list.
Ask yourself if anything from the negative list can be discarded or turned
into a positive situation. Congratulate yourself on your achievements in life
and concentrate on the future rather than the past.
Optimism is cultivated by keeping busy and active. Take up activities that
make you feel good about yourself such as
swimming. Learn something completely new. Make sure that you are always
working towards new goals and challenges. Set up timetable in which to meet
these goals. For example: "by the end of the year I will have converted one
room of the house into a studio for painting, reading and music practice".
Distance yourself from problems
If there are situations and problems in your life that you find inescapable,
try to distance yourself from them. Take an overview: tell yourself that this
is one episode in your life and it will not last indefinitely. If possible,
try to see humor in difficult situations. Imagine that you are a stranger
walking past the window of your own house. What would the stranger see? What
would the stranger make of the events going on?
Ask yourself whether your current problems will still affect you in a year's
time or in five or ten years? If you can, let go of things that you cannot
change and concentrate on the things that you
can. Remember that, even if you
cannot change a situation, you always have the option of changing the way that
you think about it. Cultivate a sense of control.
Have a mental clear-out
One negative stereotype of aging is that our beliefs become more rigid and
inflexible as we get older. Challenge this assumption by discarding old
beliefs and values. A belief that you have held for years may no longer be
useful to you, it may be outdated or experience may have taught you new
lessons. Question your beliefs about everything from gender roles to politics.
Also question your beliefs about yourself. If you find yourself thinking you
are incapable of doing something, ask yourself why. Have a physical clear out
as well as a mental and emotional one. If you make the symbolic gesture of
throwing out clothes and other possessions that you have not used for years,
this will reinforce your feelings of positivism and change.
Enjoy the simple things
Think positively about small things in life as well as big things. Derive
pleasure from everyday activities such as cooking
meals, bathing and
reading a book or newspaper. Immerse yourself in whatever you are doing. Take
the time to look at your surroundings. If you always travel by public
transport, try making the effort to walk once in a while. Friendships are
important in helping us to think positively. Friends provide support,
companionship, humor and affection, as well as a valuable buffer against
Lock up your problems
when you are confronted with a negative situation or a problem, try the
following visualization technique. Imagine that you have a small wooden box
with a lock and key. Visualize the people or situations that are upsetting you
and then open the box and carefully place them inside. Lock the box and put
the key in your pocket. Place the box in a dark drawer and tell yourself that
it stays there until you are ready to take it out and unlock it. when you are
ready to deal with it, then do so. In the meantime, if the problem becomes
greater, visualize taking the box out of the drawer, giving it a shake, and
then replacing it.
At the end of each day, reflect on the positives of the day. What went right
and why? Rather than focusing on what went wrong, focus instead on what you
learned. Become very aware of your thinking. Notice when you think positively
and congratulate yourself. Also notice when you think negatively and convert
your thoughts to a more positive view. At the end of the day repeat this
affirmation: I am an optimistic, hopeful, positive thinking person.
Before going to sleep, reflect upon what you're looking forward to the next
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