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Krystal Horton: Learn to be a positive thinker
Guest columnist

Krystal Horton


Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go according to plan? You sleep through your alarm and end up leaving the house 20 minutes late for work. Only to get in your vehicle and realize you need gas. Of course, you get to the gas station and the debit card readers are down, so you have to find a different place to fill up since you don’t carry cash. On and on it goes - the day spiraling out of control. It’s like “Murphy’s Law” has a personal vendetta against you and if it can go wrong, then it will.

Welcome to the power of thought! Our thoughts directly influence our emotions and our behaviors. The incident from above is labeled as a “bad day” before you even make it into the office. Since you have already labeled the day as such, you are more prone to feel stressed or irritated. The simplest of tasks may seem overwhelming or horrible. There is also a high chance that you will notice all of the things throughout the day that are less than perfect.

Brains like patterns. They also like the familiar. Once you have a few negative thoughts, your brain begins to look for “evidence” to support the narrative you have created. The more it finds, the easier it becomes.

Many individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, have developed a pattern of negative thinking. They are quick to notice every flaw within themselves, their environment, and those around them. The more flaws they identify, the more their self-confidence plummets. It can become difficult to go to work, interact with others, or even shower. These difficulties result in an even lower opinion of self, and the downward plunge continues.

One of the most important factors for good mental health is to learn to redirect these negative processes into more positive ones. Oftentimes, when I use the phrase “positive thoughts,” it is mistakenly assumed that I mean to look for the silver lining in every situation. Though that is one type of positive thought process, there are other variations as well. A positive though can be one that is simply more helpful or productive. It may be something on the lines of “it’s just a bad day, not a bad life” or “tomorrow is a chance to try again.” They are thoughts that are less critical and more encouraging.

Like any new skill, learning to become a positive thinker takes time and effort. This is especially true if you have been in a negative mindset for an extended period. Think of it as a well-carved, easy to navigate pathway. Any time a new piece of information is obtained, your brain instantly wants to take the path traveled time and time again. Creating a new pathway toward positivity can be likened to having to forge a trail through the wilderness. It’s a tough go at first, but the more you walk the trail the easier it becomes.

The new path clears, while the old path grows over.

There are several different ways of beginning to forge this new pathway, but all of them relate to becoming more aware of the positives around you. One exercise to start with is to take time at the end of every day to identify at least three positive events. This could be something as simple as you woke up on time, or something more complex like being promoted. Writing these accomplishments down in a journal can be beneficial as it allows you to actually see a compilation of positives over an extended period of time.

A second activity is to immediately follow-up any negative thought with one, or preferably two, positive thoughts. Perhaps you find yourself thinking “I hate my morning commute.” Challenge this with something on the lines of “I am glad I have a little extra time to wake up” or “good thing I left the house early.” Depending on the situation you could make it more positive as well. With the example given, put on your favorite morning radio show or music, drink some coffee, or notice the scenery changes.

A third strategy is to note the positive as it is happening. It may be something small and silly like the squirrel outside the window. It could be something you have started to take for granted, like a hug from your child. Perhaps you were able to engage in that selfcare activity of a dinner out.

Try thinking of positive and negative thoughts in terms of your bank account. The negative thoughts are the withdrawals, and the positive thoughts are your deposits. Regardless of if it is a couple large deposits, or even several small ones, we all want more being deposited into the account than taken out. Afterall, the more we deposit, the more stable and confident we feel. In this case, you will begin to feel happier and more capable of taking on whatever life throws at you.

Remember: Knowledge matters. Mental Health matters. Most importantly, you matter.

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