Most might say that I have a light-hearted and fun personality. But those who are well-acquainted with me might say that I’m more a combination of Ebenezer Scrooge, Hitler, and Branch from Trolls (before his adventure with Poppy). Ew. Yeah, I hate it too. After doing some pretty shallow soul-searching, I’ve come to attribute my often sour personality to a negative mindset. I seldom think about what I’m thinking about, but when I do, it seems as if my thoughts are often self-centered and ungrateful. If you find that your thoughts are the same, keep reading and learn how to overcome a negative mindset.
#1 Think about yourself less.
I honestly believe that thinking about ourselves less is one of the best ways to overcome a negative mindset. I mean if we’re honest, the majority of our upsets are a direct result of things not going our way. Instead of focusing so much on how an event affects you, try to focus on the bigger picture. Yes, that dude cut you off in traffic, but maybe he was rushing to see his dying child in the hospital. You can’t ever fully know what another person is going through, so try not to take everything so personal. Seesh.
#2 Be grateful.
It’s quite difficult to have a negative mindset and a grateful attitude all in the same head. One of the best ways to overcome a negative mindset is to be appreciative and think thankful thoughts. As 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in everything.” If you get into a car accident, I am not suggesting you be grateful for the crash, but you can be grateful for the fact that you weren’t seriously injured. Losing your job is not something to be happy about, but at least you now have the time to pursue your passions, if only for a brief moment until you find another job.
Some situations in life straight-up suck. Nevertheless, you can overcome a negative mindset by searching for something positive, even in the midst of a negative situation.
#3 Immerse yourself in the present moment.
When I think about my thoughts, I find that I am often ruminating on something that happened in the past or fixated on something that has yet to occur. In fact, we wrap ourselves up regretting yesterday and coming up with “solutions” for tomorrow that we fail to live in the present moment. Social media has its advantages, but I believe that it’s largely in part to blame with our fixation on the past and the future. We scroll through our timeline wishing things were like they used to be. Other times, we scroll through our friend’s newsfeed and wish that we were as happy, lovely, successful, or ______________ as they are.
Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come; all we have is the present. Focus on that. Take it little by little, day by day. By focusing on the present, we can cultivate an attitude of gratitude and help to overcome a negative mindset.
#4 Embrace a minimalist lifestyle.
There’s just something depressing and unnerving about clutter. Is anyone with me? We tend to create physical environments that are reflective of our inner states. A cluttered environment almost always translates into a cluttered mind. In fact, research indicates that there is a link between clutter and depression. Help overcome a negative mindset by getting rid of clutter. Clean out your closet. Have a garage sale. If you haven’t worn it in six months and if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. Personally, I always find that camping and spending time outdoors helps get my mind right. Not having tangible and intangible distractions goes a long way in helping to clear your mind.
#5 Move your body.
I’ve struggled with my self-image since I can remember. I’ve always been a little overweight, and it’s always bothered me. I went through a phase where I was eating right and working out regularly, and I felt great about myself. But then I got married and had a child and haven’t been able to cultivate that motivation since.
Most people would agree that there is a connection between our mind and our body. If we are comfortable in our skin, we will feel better. And I don’t mean in an arrogant Anchorman sort of way. We will be at peace with our appearance. We won’t constantly be tugging at our shorts to hide our thunder thighs or pulling down our sleeves to hide our flabby arms. Obviously, beauty is highly subjective, and what one person finds attractive another might find appalling but get to a point where you like the person in the mirror.
#6 Spend some time outdoors.
Unless you just really hate being outside, spending some time outdoors is at least mildly rejuvenating. Now, research is indicating that there are quantifiable health benefits to spending time outdoors. Just five minutes around trees and green spaces can help to improve your physical health and overcome a negative mindset.
Benefits from spending time outdoors include improved mood, reduced stress, improved sleep, increased ability to focus, lowered blood pressure, boosted immune system, increased energy levels, and much more.
#7 Cultivate your relationship with the Lord.
I put this one at the end because I am aware that not everyone shares my belief. I also put it at the end because it’s the one that I’m struggling with the most. I was once at a point where I knew my identity in Christ, and nothing could shake me. However, life events and lack of discipline have caused me to backslide. From previous experience, though, cultivating your relationship with the Lord is the single most effective way to overcome a negative mindset. When you know who you are in the Lord, you have this humble yet powerful confidence. Nothing bothers you because you know your Daddy is watching out for you and that He’ll work everything out. You know He’s got His eye on you, so the happenings of everyday life don’t stress you out.
Overcoming a negative mindset and thinking positive thoughts is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it may sometimes feel as if you’re not making any progress at all. But keep at it. It’s your mind, and you can reclaim it. You don’t have to be a prisoner to whatever random thought pops into your head.
What has been effective in helping you overcome a negative mindset?