How to Make ‘Positive Thinking’ Actually Work

Have you ever tried to ‘think positive’ without getting positive results?  Have you repeated positive affirmations until your mind melted to no avail?

Many of us find the concept of positive thinking easier in theory than in practice.  Why is that?  It may be because it goes against our evolutionary program which tells us to anticipate the worst possible scenarios.

Back when we were living in caves, those of us who survived were always wary of the tiger in the bush.  Those who were skipping around without a care in the world got eaten by the tiger.

So, a lot more of the overly cautious genes got passed down than the happy-go-lucky genes.

In the modern world, this program gets reinforced as we develop as children – be careful, be wary of strangers, don’t stray from the sidewalk.  And yes, some of this programming is necessary, our parents don’t want us to get lost or hurt, it’s understandable.

But the cautionary programming gets tattooed into our brains at a higher rate than the ‘you-can-do-anything’ programming.  In other words, we’re just more wired to think negative than positive.

When you make a conscious effort toward positive thinking, it can be an uphill climb.  It’s enough to throw in the towel and label this positivity nonsense a sham.

Be that as it may, there are plenty of those who believe deeply in the power of positive thinking.  Their lives are shining examples of just how well it can work….

‘The greatest story of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.’ – Oprah Winfrey

‘The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.’ – Elon Musk

‘It’s amazing what doors can open if you reach out to people with a smile, friendly attitude, and a desire to make a positive impact.’ – Richard Branson

‘I’m totally into new age and self help books.  I used to work in a bookstore and that’s the section they gave me, and I got way into it. I just loved the power of positive thinking, letting yourself go.’ – Jason Mraz

They would all say that if they can do it, you can do it too.  But how?

10 Tips for a Practical Positivity that Works

The problem is not in the ‘positive’ part, it’s in the ‘thinking’ part.  You are more than just your mind.  You are mind-body-spirit.

Have you ever got out of the house to ‘get your mind off of things’?  Then you notice as you’re out moving around and focusing on something else it ‘lifts your spirits’?

You got the energy flowing physically, mentally, and spiritually without even trying that hard.  This is why we want to speak more in terms of positive energy than just positive thinking.

Relying on thinking alone ends up in frustration and gives ‘positive thinking’ a bad reputation.  The task is to take some practical steps toward that positive energy more often and channel it into positive outcomes.

Here are ten tips gleaned from our resources to unleash more positive energy and therefore positive thoughts into your life.

Release Negative Emotions First

Have you ever been in a bad place emotionally when some goofball comes along and says “Just think positive?”  Didn’t you want to pummel them?

Trauma, sudden loss, or depression puts positive thinking completely out of reach for most of us.  Suppressing negative emotions only drives them deeper into every fiber of your being.  You’ve got to vent the overload of negativity before there’s room for positivity to flow in.

Do what you have to do to vent.  Cry, break some dishes, or bang on a tree with a baseball bat.  Just don’t do anything to get hurt and don’t get stuck in a pity party forever.

If you have bona fide depression or anxiety issues, then please see a professional therapist.  One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself is going to psychotherapy.

Nowadays I employ the Emotional Freedom Technique (video below) at least once a week to release doubt, worry, and fear.  It works wonders for me.

You can only move forward when you no longer cling to the things that are holding you back.

VIDEO:  Free Yourself from Negative Thoughts and Limiting Beliefs

Be Yourself

So many of us are walking around trying to be someone we are not.  If you think you are doing this then STOP!  You are subjecting yourself to an endless stream of inner turmoil.

Whether it’s because you’re trying to fit in, or to please your parents, or because you think it’s going to make you more money, going against who you are will ultimately make you crash and burn!!

When I first got out of college, I tried a couple of different sales jobs because of the financial opportunity linked to them.  But I made very little money because I didn’t enjoy doing the things sales people do.  To me it was a lot of pushiness, half truths, and lies.

One of my managers would say, “Dude, you have to be more positive!”  What I figured out though was “Dude, there’s nothing positive about doing something you don’t believe in!”  I’m not saying that all sales jobs and sales people are bad, I’m just saying it wasn’t right for me.

Accept, love, and celebrate who you really are.  Rewards come to those who follow their inner bliss.  Now that’s positive.

RELATED:  How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Let Others Be Themselves

While you should always be treated with dignity and respect by others, expecting anything beyond that is usually an exercise in futility.

Do you like it when somebody tells you that you need to change in order to please them?  Neither should you need them to change in order to please you.

There are no positive emotions to be gained from wanting someone to be a certain way and then watch them doggedly do the opposite.  Let them be.  They are on their journey, you are on yours.  This applies to politics, religion, addictions, and behaviors.

Focus on your own personal growth.   Make the way you feel about yourself the priority.  Often you will see more of the positive aspects in others when you don’t need them to be a certain way.

Exercise for Joy

Science has proven the anti depressant effects of exercise.  Exercise enthusiasts are simply addicted to the way it makes them feel.

But there’s no benefit in exercising in a way that does not honor you.  You don’t have to be a gung-ho jogger or weightlifter to feel the positive effects of exercise.  You can do some gentle yoga or just take a brisk walk around the block.

The point is to move enough that it elevates your mood and boosts your overall outlook on life.  HAVE FUN with it.  And as always, consult with a doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

RESOURCE:  Unlimited online Yoga classes with Gaia – only 99 cents your first month!

Eat Mindfully

I’m not saying ‘go on a diet’ but I am suggesting be aware of how different foods and eating habits make you feel.

Maybe you’ve experienced the sugar-caffeine rollercoaster like I have many times.  You’re tired, you’re stressed, but you have lots of work to do and need energy.

So, you eat sugar laden ‘goodies’ and drink caffeine.  You get a big boost for awhile, then crash, and repeat the process.  At the end of this up and down cycle you feel totally unmotivated to do anything good for yourself like exercise or meditate.

And without going on a diatribe about fast food, processed food, and so on, suffice it to say that healthy foods are conducive to positive thought processes and unhealthy foods make your brain foggy.

When your diet gives you short blasts of gratification but on the whole makes you feel bad, ‘positive thinking’ is going to be difficult at best.

RESOURCE:  The Plant Plus Diet – Personalized Nutrition for Life


Over the past few years, meditation has gone from the esoteric practice of far-east yogis to a favorite self care habit among business moguls, media mavens, and lots of other folk like you and me.

Research is affirming the benefits of meditation but if you try it yourself consistently enough you won’t need any scientific proof.

Meditation has changed my life so much that if there’s only one thing you try from this page, I suggest meditation.

There are many ways to describe meditation.  For me it’s about releasing resistance to the demands of life.  It’s not so much about the cessation of thought as it is the calming of emotions.

Calmer emotions are fertile soil for positive thought processes.  So meditate.

FREE VIDEOS: How to Meditate for Inner Peace

Count Your Blessings

The ‘attitude of gratitude’ may also seem like a platitude, but if you really feel thankful, it raises your sense of well being.

You’ve got to do more than just say you’re thankful, you’ve got to identify something that evokes positive emotion.  It may be easy or it may be hard depending on where you are right now.

If it seems hard, dive deep into the recesses of your brain and find that person, or pet, or experience that filled your heart with joy and then milk it for all its worth.

If you can focus on just one thing that makes you feel deeply grateful long enough, before you know it you will remember something else, and then another thing, and another until you start to feel like, ‘You know what, life isn’t so bad after all.’

Just try it.  Count your blessings.

RELATED:  Create Your Gratitude Master List

Enjoy Your Present

There’s an interesting synchronicity about the word ‘present’:  it means the ‘current moment’ and it also means ‘gift’.

If you ruminate over the past, you suffer.  If worry about the future, you suffer.

In this present moment you only have to be.  In this present moment you may choose the way you feel.  In this present moment, on its own, there is no struggle.

There’s a myth in our society that you must struggle for any reward.  But believing in the struggle only perpetuates it.  This is not to say you don’t take action.  Just perceive every action, pleasant or unpleasant, as another moment in an ever unfolding  journey.

And as the old saying goes, smell the roses along the way.  There is so much beauty in our lives that we tend to overlook everyday:  the laughter of children, a butterfly on the window sill, the wind rustling through the trees.

To feel wonderful, look at the world through eyes of wonder.

Manage Your Self Talk

Everything we’ve mentioned so far has been to get the mind receptive to ‘positive thinking’ through creating more positive energy in your life.  Now we get to the nitty-gritty of positive thinking which is managing your self-talk.

Research has shown that we have in the neighborhood of 50,000 thoughts per day.  Considering the conditioning and stresses of our hectic world, it’s not out of reach to say that left unchecked, the majority of these thoughts are negative.

To tip the balance of the thoughts in our chattering minds from negative to positive, we use affirmations.  In the words of one of the greatest personal growth teachers ever…

“Affirmations are inspirational, positive statements you say about yourself.  Saying daily affirmations helps reprogram our negative self-talk so we can manifest more positive thinking, feeling, and experiences in our lives.”  – Louise Hay

To fully understand the common mistakes with affirmations and how to make them really work, there is no better resource than You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay.

Use a Ladder Not a Leap

Finally, a consistent positive mindset is not something you develop over-night.  Practical positivity is a tool, not a magic spell.  If you want to get to the top of the positivity ladder, you climb it one step at a time.  Trying to jump from the ground to the top rung could end in disaster.

So there’s no need to do it all at once.  Start with whatever resonates with you the most and then one thing will lead to another.

Remember, life is a journey, enjoy each step along the way.

Thank you so much for visiting.  We look forward to sharing with you again.  To keep up to date with us, sign up for our free newsletter below.

Meet the Author

Rick Huggins

Spiritual awakening, personal growth, and the conscious lifestyle are fascinating topics to me. I love connecting with those of you diving deeper into the mysteries and meaning of Life. I am NOT a Guru but I do love sharing what I learn as I go along.

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