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5 Tips to Train Yourself to Think Positively

Improve your mindset and your health with simple shifts to your thinking and actions.

Winston Churchill said that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Having a positive attitude can help you make the best of difficult situations. A positive mindset may help you find solutions to problems, or it may help you realize that what first seemed like a problem really isn’t a big deal after all.


And negative thoughts don’t just affect your mood … they also affect your health. Researchers found that people who had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other heart issue within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook—even if they had a family history of heart disease.1

Luckily, positive thinking is a skill that anyone can learn. Here are five tips to train yourself to think positively.

  1. Notice and reframe negative thoughts. At first, you may not even be aware of your negative thoughts. Spend a day paying attention to your self-talk. You may be surprised by how many of your thoughts are pessimistic.

    First, don’t criticize yourself for having these thoughts! Just notice your next negative thought and say to yourself, “Cancel that!” to stop the pattern. Next, reframe the negative thought by turning it around and finding something positive. For instance, instead of being irritated by traffic, spend a moment appreciating your car or the extra time to listen to music or a podcast. Rather than thinking, “I’m terrible at cooking” when a meal doesn’t turn out well, think, “Every day, I get better at cooking.”

  2. Practice gratitude. Take time to acknowledge the good things in your life. Doing so will put you in a more positive frame of mind. A regular practice of saying or writing down three things you’re grateful for each day will help train you to look for things that make you happy. The more specific you can be, the better! Perhaps today you’ll feel grateful for your favorite sweater, your comfortable bed, and your beloved pet. Maybe tomorrow you’ll feel grateful for an inspirational teacher, the friend who’s always there for you, and the delicious dinner you cooked (because every day you get better at cooking!).
  3. Be kind to yourself. Make a quick list of five things you enjoy doing. You might be surprised to realize that you don’t often do the things you enjoy! Keep that list handy and do something that makes you happy as often as you can, whether it’s taking a walk before work, enjoying a bubble bath, or reading a book. The better you feel, the more positive thoughts you’ll notice yourself having.
  4. Do something good for others. It feels even better to do something nice for others than for yourself! Buy a coffee for the person in line behind you at the café, send someone a silly card, or simply text a friend and tell them how much they mean to you. By making someone else feel good, you’ll put positivity into the world and also feel good about yourself.
  5. Laugh! It’s easy to find negativity in this world. It’s OK to tune that out from time to time and find the fun. Spend time with a friend who makes you laugh, watch a funny TV show or movie, or enjoy your favorite comic on stage (live or in a recorded performance). Even remembering something funny that happened in the past can make you laugh today and improve your mood.

Put these tips into practice and notice how much better you feel. Once you’re thinking positively, you’ll realize you can do anything! You can even earn a degree. If you’re working full time, you’ll need to use the power of positive thinking to figure out how to balance your job and education. Earning a degree online is a great option, whether you want to earn a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree, like a master’s or a PhD.

Accredited online colleges go through the same accreditation process as campus-based colleges, and online education allows you to take courses from home or anywhere else you have internet access. Plus, online courses give you the benefit of completing coursework at whatever time works best for you. This enables you to continue working while earning your degree.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,