Positive thinking, a key component of happiness, is not about being insensitive to negative things, but rather it is a way of thinking that allows one to see things in a healthy way. Michelle Roya Rad, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, presents eight important points for positive thinking.
Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD: How to Become a Positive Thinker
◆1: Change your perspective when looking at yourself
The first way to become a positive thinker is to focus on positive events instead of getting caught up in negative ones. For example, if work is not going the way you want it to, instead of getting frustrated about it, focus on the fact that you have a job to do and can set aside time to improve the situation.
◆2: Change your self-evaluation
One of the ways to become a positive thinker is to correct your evaluation of yourself and change your behavior to moderate rather than perfect. Compare your weaknesses to the strengths of others, then compare your strengths to the weaknesses of others, and then compare yourself to others. Many people focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses, but those who are able to notice their weaknesses as well as their strengths have a healthier self-evaluation, says Michelle Roya Rad.
◆3: Encourage yourself
People who tend to punish themselves rather than reward themselves need to change that habit, says Michelle Roya Rad. Thinking about how hard you have been working, recognizing yourself, and thinking about where you want to go from here will lead to positive thinking.
◆4: Drawing conclusions with evidence
It is also important to judge things by looking at actual events. For example, don’t assume that “the person you are facing right now” is trying to trick you just because they look like someone you don’t get along with, says Michelle Roya Rad. It is important to consider other factors carefully in order to determine if your assumptions have a sound basis.
◆5: Don’t interpret the situation as you see fit
In many cases, the way a person speaks is determined by his or her own personality, strengths, and mood, and is usually not dictated by the person he or she is speaking to. Instead of getting upset because the waitress is late, you can avoid unnecessary frustration and misunderstandings by considering that the waitress has many other duties and that today may have just happened to be a bad day.
◆6: Avoid “either/or” thinking
Dichotomizing based on perfectionism produces undesirable results. Instead of assuming, “This should be done this way,” saying, “I support this way, but I think there are other ways to do it,” will produce better results, says Michelle Roya Rad.
◆7: No emotional reasoning
People may have individual “dislikes,” but if they don’t have a logical reason for not liking something, they should abandon that way of thinking, he said.
◆8: Challenge your “what if…” thinking.
When you encounter a situation that is too frightening to contemplate, she says that imagining the worst-case scenario and thinking about ways to avoid the worst-case scenario is also a positive way to think. By assuming the worst, you become more prepared for anything and don’t let fear get in the way of your thinking.
Michelle Roya Rad says that positive thinkers are “better problem solvers,” are better able to interact with others, and are more satisfied with their lives.