Positive thinking saved my life. I went from being someone who thought of myself as a victim and not capable of achieving any of the goals I dreamed about to becoming a confident person who was capable of anything. Then I learned the secret of how anyone can do the same and now I share these principles and concepts with everyone I possibly can, through my written and spoken words.
The secret (lean in closer to get the full effect of this powerful method) is that you can do and accomplish anything that you think you can. Let that sink in for a minute. Read it again. Say it aloud. I call it a little secret, but once you start to recognize the truth in this statement and start to live your life by it, it can and will have a huge impact.
You have actually seen it in action lots of times. You see it in the preschooler who’s told by his dad that he can ride a bike without training wheels. You see it in athletes who run faster, jump higher, and accomplish more now than ever because they can see themselves doing it before they approach the start line. You see it in your friend or neighbor who sets out to build an internet side business and creates something valuable out of nothing. I saw it many times but did not believe it applied to me. I had to shift my thinking and my mindset and then my life experience turned around completely.
When you train yourself to think positively, you increase the opportunities that open up to you. It makes you more confident and causes you to say “Yes” more often when those opportunities knock on your door. In short, positive thinking can make you more successful. There are so many benefits of positive thinking. One of them is that you get more done and become more skilled at what you do, when you think you can.
Negative Thoughts Slow You Down
Now we’re going to look at the flip side. When your thoughts turn negative, they have just as much impact as positive ones. However, rather than helping you to accomplish your goals, they slow you down and can even bring you to a complete standstill instead.
Let’s take a look at exactly how they do this. Going forward, I want you to start to pay more attention to how your thoughts and attitude affect you in both a positive and a negative way. From this moment on, you’ll work on having more positive and less negative thoughts.
Negative Thoughts Undermine Your Confidence
When you think you can’t do something or convince yourself in your mind that you’re not going to succeed, you’re also hurting your confidence in yourself. Without that confidence, you don’t have the drive, energy, and desire to make progress. Your thoughts run more along the lines of “why bother, it’s not going to work anyway.”
As a result, you tackle things slowly, if at all. Your progress comes to a standstill all because of your negative thinking. Don’t let that happen to you. Some positive thinking and self-confidence will get you back on track and moving forward. Confidence is the single most important part of yourself you can benefit from working on. I wrote about this in a book called The Inner Game of Internet Marketing, co-authored with the late Geoff Hoff.
Negative Thoughts Make You Doubt And Second Guess Yourself
Along with this lack in self-confidence and your own abilities, negative thoughts also make you doubt yourself. You’re not sure if you’re on the right track or doing things the right way. What do you do when that happens, and you start to second guess yourself?
You stop, or at least slow way down, so you can reevaluate if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You get a second opinion. You try something else to see if it works better. In short, you slow down or even have what you’re working on come to a standstill.
Compare this to times when you’re thinking positively and know exactly what you are going to do. You breeze through those projects and get them done ahead of time. Don’t let negative thoughts rob you of that.
The Shift Begins: Become Aware Of Negative Thoughts
Your first step will be to simply become more aware of your thoughts, particularly the negative ones. Monitor what you’re thinking. Stop yourself several times per day and audit your thoughts. You won’t be able to fix these negative thoughts until you become fully aware of them.
You’ll get better at this and catching various negative thoughts more often with practice. To speed up the process in the beginning, you can use the rubber band technique. Put a rubber band or hair tie on your wrist. Make sure it’s not too tight. Then snap it anytime you recognize a negative thought. The little sting from the rubber band makes you pay attention. After a couple of days of this, you’ll become aware of your negative thoughts without the rubber band to aid you.
Find Something Positive To Counteract The Negative Thought
When you catch yourself in a negative thought, it’s time to balance the scales with something positive. Acknowledge the negative and then come up with something positive. For example, if you find yourself thinking that you shouldn’t bother starting a garden this year because you have a brown thumb; counteract that with a mental statement about how good of a cook you are.
The idea is to not let the negative thoughts bring you down. You’re also simply acknowledging that the thought is there- not that it is right or valid. We’ll tackle that problem next. For now, simply get into the habit of following up negative thoughts with positive ones. The closer you can relate them to the negative one, the better. So an even better response to the earlier statement would be that you’re good at growing herbs on the window sill or that you have some of the prettiest houseplants around.
Finally, Replace The Negative With Positive Thoughts
Last but not least, it’s time to truly turn the negative into a positive thought. The key here is perspective. If you look hard enough, you can find something positive in every negative thought. Thinking that you’re not a good gardener also means that you have the opportunity to learn more. You get to play in the dirt and experience the tactile joy of feeling it between your fingers. You could even think about how fun it would be to get some help and tips from a gardening friend or your local nursery.
Find something positive and start to focus on that. Think of shortcomings as opportunities for improvement. Once you get into the habit of turning your negative thoughts around, you open yourself up to a lot of happiness and almost unlimited possibilities.
I want you to get started with creative thinking by taking a closer look at exactly what it is and how you can benefit from practicing more creative thinking.
Let’s start by going over what it isn’t. Creative thinking doesn’t really have anything to do with creative arts or hobbies. In other words, you don’t have to be a creative person to be a creative thinker. Instead, creative thinking is something that can be learned, and it is certainly something that will help you in all areas of your life. Creative thinking is “out of the box” thinking. It’s a way to look at a problem from a new angle or a new perspective and come up with a new (and hopefully better) solution for it. It’s a great skill to have in your mental tool belt.
Creative thinking often involves looking at all the facts in a new way. The fictional character Sherlock Holmes is a great example of a creative thinker. He sees the same things everyone else sees, but also reads between the lines and fits the puzzle pieces together to come to a surprising solution.
Creative thinking will help you in all areas of your life. It’s simply a good problem solving strategy. Let’s run through a couple of examples. I don’t know about you, but it’s much easier for me to grasp an abstract concept like this by looking at an example.
The Toothpaste Example
Let’s say you’ve been tasked to redesign toothpaste packaging to be more environmentally friendly. The obvious solution would be to use recycled materials in the cardboard box that the tube comes in. Maybe you could even reduce the size of the box and use vegetable ink. Those are all conventional ideas. Creative thinking will make you suggest to get rid of the box altogether, and instead, put a little safety film under the cap so consumers know it hasn’t been tampered with.
Children’s Pants Example
Let’s say your child has outgrown her pants again. Conventional thinking tells you to donate them and go buy new pants. Creative thinking has you getting out your scissors and sewing machine and spending 20 minutes to turn the pants into shorts.
In short, you want to think outside the box and find a solution that’s unconventional. You want to go beyond the obvious. Instead of finding a good or “good enough” solution, you find the perfect one that exactly fits your goal.
The first step towards doing that is to simply realize that it’s okay to get creative. Throw out some ridiculous ideas and play with possible solutions. You never know when you’ll come across something that will not only work, but work better than the obvious answer. Creativity is an innate part of who we are, even if most of us don’t believe that to be the case for much or all of our lives.
Time is On Your Side
We live in a fast paced world where we need the answer or results right away… or even better, yesterday. Instant gratification is the name of the game. And, that game comes at a big price. Not only does it cause a lot of stress and give us less time to relax and slow down, it also affects how we think. We don’t always make the best decisions when we’re rushed. I observe this phenomenon regularly with the online entrepreneurs I mentor. They are in such a hurry to make money they release a product or course that isn’t ready and could better serve their market if they would simply take a step back and allow their creative juices to flow.
Creative thinking takes time. You have to explore all your options and get through the obvious solutions before you can even make it into the realm of thinking creatively. That doesn’t happen instantly. You have to allow the ideas and thoughts to roll around in your head until a creative solution starts to take shape.
Positive thinking also takes time. We sometimes simply have to wallow in self-pity for a little bit at first. Making the shift from thinking quite a few negative thoughts to reaching for and embracing positive ones doesn’t happen overnight.
My message to you is this. Give yourself time. Work on it starting now, but don’t expect major changes right away. Be patient with yourself and get there. Don’t despair or give up when a perfect creative solution doesn’t present itself right away. It will come, but it will come in its own good time.
Here are three tips to help you get through those times when positive and creative thinking simply takes a little extra time. These are three things you shouldn’t be doing and what to do instead.
Don’t Force It – You Really Can’t
The hardest thing to understand initially is that you can’t force this type of thinking. Just because you’re working on a deadline or someone is waiting for you to come up with a brilliant solution, isn’t going to make it appear out of thin air. Yes, there are things you can do to speed it up like practicing creative and positive thinking regularly, brainstorming ideas, joining a Mastermind, and looking at something from all possible different angles. But at the end of the day, you can’t force it. I tried to force my writing; I was someone who had wanted to write since I was in elementary school. But I talked about writing much more than I ever wrote. When I came online in 2006 I came to the realization pretty quickly that writing would be an important part of my business. Because I had not been writing regularly throughout my adult life, my writing was mediocre at best. I so wanted it to improve but I knew I couldn’t force it. Instead, I got into the habit of writing every day. Over time my writing did improve and I have, to date, published over two million words in the form of articles, blog posts, short reports, information products, courses, presentations, and more than twenty full length, non-fiction books.
Don’t Give Up – Good Things Are Coming
Which brings us to our next point, just because things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like, doesn’t mean you should give up and move on. Be patient. You’ll get there; and when you do, it will be well worth it.
Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away
No, I’m not talking about giving up. Instead, walk away for a few minutes. Take a breather, think about something else. Go for a walk; go have lunch, listen to some music or a recorded book, go play with some kids…. Do anything that isn’t related to the problem you’re mulling over.
Your subconscious will continue to work towards a solution and one of two things are going to happen. Either, the perfect idea will pop into your head while you’re doing something else, or you’ll get back to work and looking at things with fresh eyes and a fresh mind will make what you should do glaringly obvious.
Suspending Limits for Creative Thinking
Let’s talk about suspending limits and how we can use it to kick start creative thinking. It’s a great way to start a brainstorming session, or use it on its own whenever you’re having a hard time coming up with creative solutions.
Here’s the big problem with creative thinking. Our minds try to keep us in the realm of possibility. The brain tries to stay within the box where it’s nice and safe. Our regular thinking processes go along the lines of what we know will work. That’s the opposite of creative thinking. The best way to break through this thinking barrier is to suspend your beliefs and limits. When you erase the box, seeing what’s outside it becomes easy. To do this, ask yourself the following:
If Money, Physics, Time, Etc. Weren’t an Issue, What Would You Do?
Give it a try. Start by going through this as an exercise on a regular basis. Ask yourself a hypothetical question or post a problem, and practice suspending limits. Here are a few examples:
- If time, money, and physics weren’t an issue, where would I go on vacation this year?
- If money wasn’t an issue, where would I live? What would my house look like?
- If willpower and time weren’t an issue, what would I eat, what would I do to stay in shape and what would I look like?
- If money and obligations weren’t an issue, what would I do for a living? How would I spend my time?
Give it a try and see for yourself how freeing it is to suspend your limits. While you won’t always come up with workable solutions, you’ll come up with some interesting ideas that may lead to other creative ideas.
Let’s say you’re thinking about the family vacation and something cool to do with your son, who happens to be a space buff, this year. Suspending your limits completely, you come up with the idea that going to the moon or even mars on vacation would be amazing. While that’s not a workable solution (at this point), it may give you some great ideas for space-type tourist destinations you could visit. You may end up heading to Cape Canaveral on vacation, for example. something that may not have crossed your mind until you suspended your limits and got creative.
How else can you incorporate this into your life? Make it part of your daily journaling. It always makes for some fun journal entries. Get your family, your close friends, and your team at work involved. Use suspending limits as an ice breaker for any and all discussions, conversations, and meetings; and see where it takes you. Have fun with it, and you’ll surprise yourself with the creative ideas you come up with.
Positive Thinking with a Creative Twist
I’m Connie Ragen Green, using positive thinking with a creative twist to live the life I want and deserve. Come along with me and we will frolic in the hills and valleys and along the oceanic coasts of cyberspace, creating something that will help to revolutionize the world in at least some small way. Are you up for such an adventure?