“Think happy thoughts, don’t be so negative.” Sometimes, this is easier said than done, right? Becoming a happier more optimistic person takes practice. It begins with an increased awareness and choice.
When you notice you are being negative or a Debbie downer, you have a choice to continue down that path of self-destruction (because negativity always leads to more misery), OR you can simply choose to bring yourself out of that moment and into a new more positive outlook.
The first step to having a positive outlook is to make a choice.
At the end of the day, you get to choose if you want to be a positive or negative person. We all know “misery loves company”. Finding someone to chime in on your gloom and doom will always be an easy task. Finding a way to choose, to see the good in everyday situations on the other hand, is always the brighter, more fulfilling path.
These five mental exercises will guide you to become a more positive person in the present moment. They will guide you to connect your mind and body, increasing your awareness. Your power is in the present.
5 Mental Exercises To Be More Positive
1. Choose Again
It all begins with a choice. It’s that simple. When you notice you are having a negative thought, simply tell yourself to STOP. Reframe and choose a better serving thought. If you’re in the grocery store and notice you’re thinking about how it’s freezing, stop.
Think about how grateful you are to have more than one warm jacket. Think about how you never have to wonder if you’ll be sleeping on the cold streets at night. Each breath, each thought, each moment is an opportunity to choose WHO you want to be and HOW you want to show up in the world.
2. Mindful 4-6-8 Breath
When you’re stressed, angry, or frustrated, your body has a chemical reaction and you loose oxygen through shallow breathing. The next time you find yourself in these situations, close your eyes, take three 4-6-8 breaths (inhale for 4, hold for 6, exhale for 8) and savor the relaxation flooding your body.
Stress and anxiety results in shallow breathing or under-breathing, leading to hypoxemia, a condition know as abnormally low oxygen levels. The inhale-and-hold technique saturates your body, bloodstream, organs, and tissues with cleansing fresh oxygen, energizing you and your cells.
The long audible exhale expels as much CO2 as possible, releasing toxins from the body. This simple act of linking the conscious mind and the unconscious mind (the mind that usually does the breathing for us) counteracts the chemical process of anxiety, stress, and tension.
Use this breathing technique anytime stress, negativity, or anxiety hits. The chemical reaction in your body will immediately lower your stress hormones, leaving you feeling relaxed and at ease.
3. Peace Begins with Me Mudra/Mantra
Everyday situations like long lines, bad drivers, and rushed people can certainly combat your emotions and reactions.
“If you want more peace in the world, it has to start with you.”
Hostility isn’t the answer. However, sometimes bringing yourself to harmony in the heat of the moment can prove to be a challenging practice.
Instead of forcing, surrender and use this manta/mudra meditation. Bring the thumb to the pointer finger, thumb to the middle finger, thumb to the ring finger and thumb to the pinkie finger. Repeat the mantra: Peace, Begins, With, Me. Reciting each word with each mudra, or finger placement.
This simple but powerful reminder brings you back into your body and reminds YOU, that you are the first step to positivity and change towards peace and love in the world. Your peace will infuse others with tranquil calming feelings. Use this all day, everyday!
4. Call in your 5 Senses with a Mindful Color Walk
Where you place your attention on grows. Sometimes, I find it’s easy to pay attention to worries about the future or regret the past. However, the reality is the present moment. It is the only real thing! Calling in your senses stops chatter in the mind and brings you into the present moment.
You can practice this technique when you are cooking, eating, driving, walking, anything. Then head out for a mindful color walk. Even a short 5-minute walk can clear the clutter of the mind and bring you into the reality of now. As you set out, pick a color. Take notice as you go, where and how this color shows up. Maybe it’s in flowers, paint, cars, signs, or leaves – all of the life around you in real time.
Stop. Smell with curiosity. Any particular aroma wafting by? Look around you and notice colors you may have missed, like textures in the wall and ceiling. Feel the texture of the chair you’re sitting on, the ground your feet are on, the fabric on your skin, the air on your face. Listen out of one ear, then the other, and then both. What do you hear? Taste, open your mouth, and breathe. Is there salt in the air, a particular taste left over?
Increasing your awareness results in more thankfulness and gratitude for the simple things in everyday life.
When you focus on mental exercises such as listening, seeing, or smelling, all the false worries wash away. It becomes very clear that the amount of abundance and opportunity for positivity in your life is all around you. You have the freedom to choose where you place your focus and watch it expand!
5. Mandala Coloring Books
Hello bliss, stress free, unplugged happiness. Grab some crayons and get your color on. The mandala is an ancient symbol that transcends you into a meditative, creative blissful realm.
Once you find a rhythm you notice your “monkey mind” has quieted, you’re happy and peaceful just being in this space of quiet contemplation of what color you should choose next. You will find soon enough that you crave this quiet time. This is perhaps the most fun of the mental exercises.
Caution! Mindfulness and positivity side effects can be reported as: lowered blood pressure, not letting small stuff stress you out, easier decision-making, more confidence, better sleep, awareness that prevents blow-ups, mastery of the mind, less following the monkey mind, and increased awareness.
It’s not always the easiest choice to choose to focus on the positive in life. However, I do believe it is the most fulfilling choice. As you begin to practice these five mental exercises, you will begin to notice more ease and fulfillment in your life.
Little things will bring you great joy. You’ll be able to let go of and process big, heavy things with more ease and awareness. Thus, creating space for expansion, growth, and curiosity to find what truly makes you happy – and do more of that, in your life!