How to Cultivate a Positive Mindset: 5 Ways to Boost Your Thinking

How to Cultivate a Positive Mindset: 5 Ways to Boost Your Thinking

Remember Peter Pan’s secret to flying—besides the pixie dust, of course? 

“Think happy thoughts.” 

While positive thinking won’t magically lift you into the air, it’s nevertheless an essential part of your mental and physical health. A positive mindset allows you to be more open-minded, optimistic, and goal-oriented. And it’s even been shown to prevent stress symptoms and illness (more on this below). 

So, is this something you’re born with, or can you learn how to have a positive mindset?

In this article, we’ll discuss how learning to cultivate a positive mindset is possible. Here are five concrete and practical strategies for nurturing positive thoughts and emotions that will benefit you in all aspects of life.

Understanding positive mindset

“Positivity” as a concept can feel abstract and difficult to define. After all, each person has their own understanding of what it means to be positive. Some may see it as appealing but unattainable, while others might view it in a more negative light, assuming it means ignoring problems to maintain a positive mindset, sort of like toxic positivity.

But a positive mindset is less about being positive all the time, and more about learning how to accept negative emotions and let them go, rather than ruminate and worry. 

While you may think “it’s all in your head,” positive thinking betters your mind and body.

Researchers are still investigating the exact connection between positive attitudes and physical health, but currently, they believe that being positive can:

  • Lower the risks of cardiovascular events, like heart attacks
  • Reduce and prevent the negative effects of stress
  • Lead you toward better health and life decisions
  • Help you focus on achieving long-term goals

Positivity is often viewed as an innate quality: you’re either born with it, or you’re not. But researchers stress that being positive is a skill—an important one at that. And as with any skill, the only way to improve is to practice. 
Practical strategies for cultivating positivity

The key to practicing positivity is to start small with simple, concrete exercises you can integrate into your daily life. Because, as you’ll see, it’s the little moments that lead to big changes.

Practice gratitude daily

Gratitude has a tangible effect on your mindset. Research shows that it boosts your optimism, happiness, and social connection, and it even improves your sleep, mental health, and immune responses. But, perhaps most importantly, it has a positive impact on those close to you. 

Practicing gratitude encourages you to be more self-aware and generous. Instead of throwing a quick “thank you” over your shoulder to the barista after picking up your coffee, ask yourself why you’re grateful, and how you can better express this gratitude. 

A great way to reflect on and document your gratitude practice is by journaling. 

Follow these simple guidelines to maintain a productive gratitude journal:

  1. Use questions and prompts – Putting your pen to a blank page can be daunting, especially when you’re just beginning to journal. Instead of writing free-flow, structure your journal around simple questions, such as “What acts of kindness did I witness today?” or “What do I appreciate most about myself?” Eventually, you’ll be able to write with more confidence as you build your personal language of gratitude. 
  2. Focus on thanking specific people, rather than generalizing – The more specific you get with your gratitude, the better you’ll be able to understand and spread it. Take your gratitude a step further by thanking people for specific acts and gestures, and by thinking of ways to return the favor. Don’t shy away from personal details; your journal is for your eyes only.
  3. Write frequently – Gratitude is an important habit to form, but you don’t have to force it to happen every single day in the beginning. Instead of journaling daily, try to write one to three times a week; it’ll keep your practice fresh.

Gratitude journaling helps you grow more aware of your emotions and learn how to articulate them. When you’re ready, you can use these skills to share your gratitude with the people in your life to strengthen your relationships and spread your positivity to others. 

Reframe negative thoughts

Thoughts have power. How you think influences the way you see your environment, others, and yourself. 

Sometimes, it can feel like you have no control over your thoughts. Negative ideas will just pop into your head, whether you believe them or not. Even though thoughts can be impulsive at times, there are ways to intentionally challenge and shift them to cultivate a more positive mindset. 

Instead of submitting to negative thought patterns, you have the power to reframe them. This exercise will teach you how to change your mindset from negative to positive in a clear and constructive way:

  1. Identify – Before you can reframe your thoughts, you need to be aware of them. Negative self talk includes filtering (focusing on negative thoughts vs. positive ones), personalizing (immediately blaming yourself for problems), catastrophizing (jumping to the worst possible conclusions), and more.
  2. Evaluate – After you identify a negative thought, sit with it for a moment and consider why it’s there. What situation caused this thought to appear? Is that how you truly feel? Often, negative thoughts don’t reflect our true mindset, but if left unchecked, it’s easy to believe they’re true. 
  3. Reframe – Take the situation that triggered the negative thought and look at it from a different angle. Then reconstruct the thought into something more positive without negating the significance of the situation. For example, if you’re dealing with a stressful project at work and find yourself thinking “I can’t do this,” reframe it by thinking “I was hired for this job because I am capable. This project is a challenge, but not impossible.”

Surround yourself with positivity

It’s much easier to have a positive attitude when you’re surrounded by external sources of positivity. 

You can find positivity all around you—in caring individuals, friendly environments, and supportive communities—you just need to seek it out. 

Here are a few ways to cultivate a more positive personal and social environment:

  • Think about the things that make you happy – These could be specific people you enjoy spending time with, places that you like to go, and personal hobbies or activities that bring you joy.
  • Recognize sources of negativity in your life – It’s impossible to avoid all negative people and situations, but you can choose how much time you spend engaging with them. Doom scrolling on social media, substance use, and other negative habits are breakable with a little time and effort.
  • Work positive habits into your daily life – Text your friends and family regularly, and schedule meetups when you can. Use your lunch break to visit the park or read the book that’s been sitting patiently on your shelf. Take the time to counterbalance any negative feelings with some positive ones. 

Not only will this sphere of positivity benefit you, but those around you that you love and admire.

Embracing optimism in everyday life

Optimism is a natural product of positivity. If you maintain a positive and open-minded attitude about the future, it’s easier to believe that good things will happen. 

The two essential ingredients for embracing optimism: resilience and joy.

Cultivating resilience

What does it mean to be resilient? Resilience is your capacity to recover from any stressful situations that breed negative emotions. Stressors can include:

  • Troubles with work or finances
  • Relationship tensions
  • Illness or loss

Rather than avoid these stressors and the negative emotions they create, resilience grants you a way through your low points, so you can stay optimistic about the future. 

Like positivity, resilience is an essential skill that you can learn and practice. As you develop your resilience, you’ll be able to bounce back from difficult experiences with more ease and self-assurance. The Apollo wearable actually improves your resilience to stress, working from the inside out by balancing your nervous system and improving your heart rate variability (HRV).

Luckily, many of the strategies for cultivating a positive mindset also help build resilience. Here are a few more ways to do both:

  • Nurture your support system with regular check-ins and sharing gratitude
  • Take care of your physical health by exercising, eating well, and getting proper sleep
  • Set small, achievable goals for yourself that you can work towards over time

Remember that resilience is a repeated action you take in response to moments of stress and struggle. With each new challenge, your ability to adapt will only grow stronger. 

Finding joy in small moments

While resilience allows you to overcome negative emotions, joy helps you experience positive ones. 

Joy can be found in moments both big and small. It’s easy to remember the grand romantic gestures and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but it’s the everyday instances of happiness that ultimately mean the most.

If you can learn to identify these moments of joy in the present, you’ll be more likely to believe that there will be joyful moments in your future.

Savor the present moment with mindfulness and observation strategies, like the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique: find five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste. 

By being more aware of the present, you can notice the little things happening around you and how they make you feel. And once you begin to notice them, these moments add up to something monumental. 

Always have access to positive Vibes with an Apollo wearable

Positivity can come from all corners of life. Getting better sleep, reducing stress, and enhancing work and social performance can all contribute to a more positive mindset. They’re also the key features of an Apollo wearable. 

The Apollo wearable sends soothing Vibes that are clinically proven to give you up to 30 extra minutes of sleep each night, decrease feelings of stress and anxiety by an average of 40%, and so much more. 

Try it for yourself and discover how Apollo can be a positive influence in your life.