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Stop Negative Thoughts, Encourage Postive Thinking

June 17, 2011

Negative thinking is a habit that’s hard to break. It can shape your world view, and affect how you experience your life. Negative thinking can also be contagious! The good news is all this is also true of positive thinking. You can stop negative thoughts and practice positive thinking, creating a happier and healthier life for yourself. At least it worked for me!

Stop complaining.
Complaining often results in a cycle of negative thinking. You may feel justified in your complaints but more often than not complaining, especially repeating complaints, trains your brain to focus on the negative.

A few months ago I found myself complaining repeatedly and I stuck a note on my monitor that said, “Just for today, don’t complain.” Every time I saw the note it would keep me from complaining in that moment. After a few days looking at that note and not complaining, I found my outlook towards my co-workers, my job and my work-life had greatly improved. The complaints that seemed so significant a few days before no longer felt so important or urgent. Not complaining improved my outlook and gave me the patience to allow some of my original concerns to be resolved.

Balance negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
It takes a lot of practice to banish negative thinking from your mind but you can start by balancing your negative thoughts with positive thoughts. When you find yourself thinking a negative thought, think about something positive. This technique can be effective for keeping a balanced perspective when you’re in a negative thinking rut.

Whenever I find myself thinking a negative thought, I consciously think a positive thought. It can be about the topic of the negative thought or a different topic entirely. It doesn’t matter how insignificant, such as, “I love cheese” or “it’s Friday and I’m going out for Happy Hour after work.”

Remind yourself that feelings aren’t facts.
Feelings are powerful tools that can guide your choices and motivate your behavior. Sometimes negative feelings from past experiences can overwhelm you, causing you to feel as though you’re repeating or reliving a past experience or believing that you will experience the same negative outcome in a present day situation. You may think if it happened before, it’s going to happen again, however this isn’t always true.

I may feel a negative emotion about a person, myself or someone else, or my situation, but that doesn’t always mean that emotion is true. My negative emotions are usually coming from the memory of struggle in the past and fear of future struggle. Sometimes simply acknowledging the feelings while recognizing they aren’t necessarily true in this situation helps overcome negativity.

Write a gratitude list.
Writing a gratitude list, especially when done daily, is a great way to acknowledge and truly experience the things that make you smile, make you laugh, feelings of safety and comfort and so much more!

Make a list of all the things in your day that are pleasing. If this exercise is difficult for you, try taking a look around your current environment and really noticing what’s there. What colors stimulate you in your immediate surroundings? What delicious food have you enjoyed today? Do you have a home, transportation, a steady paycheck? Focus on the good things in your life.

I write a gratitude list almost every day and it has helped train my brain to think more positively. On days when I find I’m struggling, writing a gratitude list helps me gain perspective. This perspective is important because often concerns that feel important and urgent in the moment aren’t actually important and urgent long term. I can ask myself, “how important is it?”

Surround yourself with positive people.
If you spend time with people who are negative and complain and gossip it’s much harder to break out of a pattern of negativity in your life. Limit your time with complainers and seek out friendship and collaboration with people who are interested in living a happy life.

Seeking the company of positive-minded people has helped me be more positive. Not only is a positive attitude contagious, people who make a choice to think happy remind me I have a choice to think happy, too.

Be gentle and caring with yourself.
When under stress it’s important to consciously care for your basic needs and well being. Get enough sleep, eat when you’re hungry, take a bath, take a walk, ask for a hug. Be kind to yourself.

My daily self-care routines have taught me how important it is to take care of myself. When I’m well-rested, hydrated and eating well, I am better able to deal with stressful situations and I’m far less likely to turn to negative patterns in times of stress.

Just for today, love yourself enough to let go of the struggle over something that is out of your hands. Most days that’s pretty much everything!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 7:54 am

    Write a gratitude list? I like that! what a wonderful thought!!

    Sometime back, I wrote down a list of people I feel indebted to, those who helped me get ahead in life in their own way – it is a warm experience.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • June 17, 2011 9:47 am


      I’m so happy you found some inspriation. I absolutely love writing gratitude lists and a regular, conscious practice of gratitude has changed my outlook completely! A really fun and challenging task is to try to write a gratitude list for every letter of the alphabet. The alphabet gratitude list can also be done in a group and the ideas really start rolling when collaborating with others on all the things that make us grateful.


  2. June 17, 2011 8:48 am

    Love this! Thanks for sharing.

    • June 17, 2011 9:44 am

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Lisa! I’m glad this post gave you something to feel positive about today. 🙂 I took a quick look at your blog- love your photography. I’ll look at in more detail later.


  3. June 20, 2011 3:20 am

    Great post! I learned a lot from it!

    I like the idea of balancing between positive and negative thoughts. I think that’s a great method.

    I enjoyed reading this post so much! I look forward to learning more from you.


    • June 20, 2011 7:03 am


      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I’m happy you were able to get some ideas for overcoming negative thinking. All of the ideas I shared are tools that have worked for me and have made my life much happier and healthier. I am grateful to share that happiness and health with others.


  4. June 20, 2011 6:01 pm

    Wonderful post!

    I’ve learned people only complain when they know there is a better alternative for them but they’re unwilling to take action to get it!

    Tim Ferris did a no complaint experiment for 30 days maybe. I’ll have to find the old post but it sounds like something I might try in the future!

    I love the gratitude journal. I’ve been keeping one for a month now. I can’t physically prove what has changed but it doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing in it. I know only good can come out of it.

    and yes I’ve definitely changed since I’ve surrounded myself with more positive people! Makes a world of difference!

    • June 20, 2011 6:24 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Benny!

      I have to admit I have found myself complaining when I’m focusing on what isn’t working instead of focusing on what is. Usually when I catch myself complaining it is motivated because I want to promote some kind of change, however I have found that the only change I can really control is change within me. I have also found that changes in my behavior often positively affect my situation and those around me.

      Recently I was really struggling at work and unhappy with how things were going and as soon as I stopped complaining, most of the issues I was complaining about resolved themselves. I truly believe turning my attitude from negative to positive had a positive affect on my situation and people at work were more motivated to support me and work with me to resolve issues.

      I love keeping a gratitude journal and it has worked wonders for improving my quality of life. I am happier overall, I sleep better, and I find people are more likely to be drawn to my positive attitude and give me positive feedback.

      I recently had the idea to try a photo gratitude list. I’ve been taking photos of the many things I’m grateful for and I look forward to editing and posting the photos!

      Thanks again for reading and commenting! I am grateful for your positive presence!


  5. June 20, 2011 10:38 pm

    Chrysta, I really appreciate how you pointed out the danger of negative thinking being contagious! It instills a sense of urgency in targeting and removing negative thinking from our lives!

    Your first point about not complaining really struck a chord with me. I recently read about a man who challenged himself to not complain for the day and had a really tough time with it! He didn’t accomplish it at all! This really speaks to how we’ve become accustomed to complaining and how much positive change can happen if we make a commitment to banish complaints from our lives!

    I also love the idea of a daily gratitude list. How amazing that you write one almost every day and what a fruitful habit! =) I recently listed by “thankfuls” for a friend’s blog post and it was such an enriching experience. Thanks for encouraging me to keep at it, Chrysta! =) Loved this motivational post! =)

    • June 21, 2011 6:52 am


      Thanks so much for your comment! It really is amazing how powerful complaining can be, though I have found the same to be true for being positive, as well. I think our society is more focused on what we don’t have and what we don’t like, and as a result complaining is often prevalent in our lives.

      Sometimes we have valid complaints and it’s not necessarily a bad thing to speak up when it we might use constructive criticism to create positive change, though in my own experience most complaints don’t serve a useful purpose and if I hear myself voicing the same complaint to more than once then I know I’m not being productive in my actions.

      I love making my gratitude lists! When I started making regular gratitude lists I didn’t notice an instant significant change, though a gratitude list would lift my mood. With regular practice, however, I noticed there really was a significant change in my overall outlook on life. With gratitude I feel empowered, energtic and ready to take on challenges!


      • June 21, 2011 9:39 am

        What a powerful testimony on gratitude lists, Chrysta! You motivate me to keep it up, so I can reap the positive benefits in my life! I could always use more energy! =)


  6. July 5, 2011 1:33 pm

    Wonderful and thought provoking post!….Liked the idea of making a gratitude list! “Feelings are not facts”…Aren’t we bogged down with facts (or assumed to be facts) which in turn are shaping our feelings?

    • July 5, 2011 3:11 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I love gratitude lists and I’ve found it gets easier and easier to train my thoughts towards the positive the more I practice consciously listing all the good things in my life.

      I agree it’s easy to get bogged down in feelings, urges, senses and wants and interpret these things as facts, when they aren’t! It’s much easier to live a balanced life when we can separate what is actually necessary, beneficial and valuable to our life from what is expressed, expected and comfortable.


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