In this new era of positive psychology, the focus has shifted from pathologies – abnormal patterns that negatively impact a person’s life – toward a focus on strengths. Strengths consist of the innate or learned attitudes and behaviors that support fulfilling outcomes. One of the strategies of this focus is to create and reinforce positive thoughts. Positive thinking is the practice of cultivating and nurturing positive thoughts about your current circumstances and future possibilities.
Positive thinking requires replacing or reframing negative thoughts with positive ones. Instead of dwelling on what is not working, or what might happen in the future, thoughts are focused onto what is working and the desired outcome in any given situation. Shifting one’s perspective to affirming and uplifting thoughts is most certainly a helpful step toward a more fulfilling life story. Unfortunately, this is where you may become stuck. While the very act of changing patterns of thinking may create a more positive experience, it will, in most cases need to be followed up with action steps to achieve the desired outcome.
Professional athletes use positive thinking as a mechanism for visualizing exceptional results. But it does not stop there. Day after day, these same athletes practice their sport to develop their skills. They take specific action steps designed to create the results they desire. In other words, their actions are directly linked to achieving a positive and successful outcome. This is also known as authentic action – the action itself is unique to the actual goal.
Let’s put this into practice:
• Imagine a negative thought that keeps replaying in your mind. For example, “I am fat.”
• Now replace that negative thought with a positive one, like, “I am fit and healthy.” Good start.
• Take it a step further and create a list of behaviors that will give you the exact result of being fit and healthy. Ask yourself, how does a fit and healthy person behave? “I am fit and healthy, therefore I eat nutritious, well-balanced meals and exercise daily.”
From here, break those action steps into smaller, manageable steps, by asking questions about the results:
How will I eat nutritious, well-balanced meals?
• Make an appointment with a nutritionist, naturopath or other professional with an expertise in creating nutritious, well-balanced meals.
• Read books and blogs about nutritious, well-balanced meals.
• Take a cooking class to learn how to prepare foods that will provide nutritious, well-balanced meals.
• Practice cooking and eating nutritious, well-balanced meals.
How will I exercise daily?
• Make an appointment with a doctor to determine if there are any limitations to increasing exercise routine.
• Hire a trainer or join a gym or studio with exercise instructors.
• Read books and blogs about appropriate exercises for individual body needs.
• Set aside a specific time every day and exercise.
For best results, break each of these action steps into micro steps. As an example:
Make an appointment with a nutritionist, naturopath or other professional with an expertise in creating nutritious, well-balanced meals.
• Do an internet search for nutritionists, naturopaths and other experts in the area and read testimonials.
• Ask friends and family if they have recommendations for a nutritionist, naturopath or other expert.
• Ask general practitioner or other medical professional for a referral to a nutritionist, naturopath or other expert.
Authentic action is not action for action sake. It is action that is specific, focused, measurable and directly linked to the desired outcome. To create authentic action steps, reframe your thoughts to positive, affirming statements. Ask yourself, what specific behaviors would you have if that positive statement were true. Now break those specific actions into even smaller action steps. Lastly, break the smaller action steps into micro steps that you can do today. Most importantly, take action!
In this way, not only have you transformed your thoughts, you have begun the process of actual steps that will reinforce your desired outcome and move you closer to your goal. And, as you move closer to your goal, your thoughts will become more positive as you see measurable results. This, in turn, will energize you to continue taking authentic, focused action toward a successful and fulfilling outcome.
Written By Alana Karran