How to Train Your Brain to Be More Optimistic (The Loop/kindsnacks.com)

We all know that positive thinking can help improve our attitude and outlook on life, but what about the physical health benefits associated with it? More optimistic people tend to live healthier lives. In fact, studies have shown that optimists have a 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and higher cancer survival rates. What’s more, positive thinkers are even shown to have a longer life span! Though consistent optimism can be difficult, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Train your brain to be more optimistic with these easy steps.
1. Challenge Negative Thoughts
Often, without even noticing, negative thoughts tend to crop up as we worry about the future, stress over a past event, or concentrate on a certain personality trait or physical characteristic we possess. To become more optimistic, train your brain to challenge and rebuke these negative thoughts. Consider how you would respond if you heard a friend or family member voicing similarly negative thoughts about themselves, and apply that positive response to yourself. As you do this more often, over time, your brain will learn to quickly shoot down those negative thoughts and replace them with more positive counterparts.

2. Express Gratitude
Increasing how and when you choose to practice gratitude can have an incredibly powerful impact on your positivity! In fact, thoughts of gratitude can actually increase your serotonin and generally improve your mood. While it may feel silly or strange at first, mindfully noticing and acknowledging the things in your life that you’re grateful for is a great first step to regularly practicing gratitude and eventually, enhancing your positive outlook on things.
To start, write down or repeat in your head three things that you’re grateful for and reflect on why that is. The next day, choose three more! Soon enough, you’ll be noticing new gratitudes, both small and big, that can help improve your positivity.

3. Focus on the Solution
When a tough or stressful situation occurs, it’s a natural response to focus on the problem at hand and all of its negative potential outcomes. However, this thought process can have seriously hurt your optimism, and even ruin your day if you let it! Instead of focusing on the problem, practice focusing on a positive solution. Not only can concentrating on solutions help you resolve a problem more quickly, but it can also make you feel more confident in yourself and improve your chances of success!

4. Picture Your Best Self
Have you ever sat down and considered your life plan, sketching out where you want to be five, ten, and twenty years from now? It’s a scary thought, but research shows that when you literally map out your best possible future plans and focus on visualizing them, you can actually boost your optimism. To do this, think very carefully and consider certain details, like where you are, who you’re with, how you spend your time, and what brings you joy. Continue to do so as regularly as possible, and don’t be afraid to dream up new scenarios or get very detailed. Research shows that even 30 seconds of visualization can bring you a jolt of positivity and help develop an optimistic outlook over time!

5. Stop Complaining
This tip could be the hardest yet, as complaining can often feel like it’s ingrained in us, and a natural response to tiring or difficult circumstances. While complaining once in a while can help let off steam, doing so often can bring your mood and positivity way down. When you start to notice a stream of complaints running through your head, practice quickly shutting them down and replacing them with more positive thoughts about the situation. It may feel hard or unnatural at first, but working more optimism into your thoughts will help inject a generally optimistic attitude into your daily life as well!

Practicing positivity is, ironically, no laughing matter. Though it can be a difficult process, the results are well worth the work you put in. As you train your brain to incorporate more optimistic thinking, you also increase your odds of living a longer and happier life!

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