Have you ever known some people who seem to have the power of positivity on their side? It seems as if there is nothing they can’t accomplish—no task too big, no challenge too overwhelming.
But then there is the opposite type of person, the ones who seem overcome with negativity. They seem to believe they are destined for failure, so much so that there is no point in attempting anything challenging anyway.
Best-selling author Ilchi Lee is a big believer in the power of positive thinking and how we can retrain our brains to get the life and world that we want. It’s a common theme he discusses in his books Earth Citizen and Earth Management: A Dialogue on Ancient Korean Wisdom and Its Lessons for a New Earth.
“I am not a neuroscientist, but I have seen firsthand exactly how powerful the human brain can be, and I have been amazed at how people’s lives can change when they begin to realize that they have the power to use their brains as they truly wish,” Lee said in Earth Citizen.
Thinking negatively and voicing those thoughts can be a source of stress that overrides your brain and diminishes your confidence. Even being around negative people can do the same. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Like anything else, negative and positive thinking can be learned. But first you have to make a choice—what type of person do you want to be?
Think About Completion Instead of Success
When a person focuses on success, they set themselves up for negative thoughts. There will always be someone richer, smarter, prettier, or thinner than they are.
“People who seek success feel good only when they are better than others, and they feel very bad when they don’t do as well as others,” Lee wrote in Earth Management.
But by focusing on completion, for instance, you open yourself to positive thinking. If you decide you want to run your first ever 5K race, for example, you might feel pretty bad about yourself if you focus solely on success. You won’t take home a performance medal—those will be won by seasoned runners who have been running consistently and training for much longer than you have. If you compare yourself to those runners, you’ll feel horrible about your time as your cross the finish line. The negativity will creep in.
But if you think of your experience in a different fashion and you focus on completion, you’ll feel great about yourself and your accomplishment no matter what time you end up getting. You’ll appreciate that you were able to set a goal and finish it, and you’ll marvel over the things your body is able to do.
Spend More Time with Those We Love
So much about our world creates an isolated existence. Many of us go to work at jobs where we interact more with computers and machinery than we do with people. Then when we come home, a lot of us spend our free time staring at our computers, tablets, and phones. This kind of behavior can lead to negative thoughts and feelings of isolation.
“When we are not alone, but together, when we have harmonious relationships with the people around us, we can become happier, and we can better solve the problems we face,” Lee said.
Lee points to forming close relationships with our loved ones as a way to stay more positive. In particular, spending time with children can bring a lot of positivity into our lives. Seeing their faces light up over the simplest of things can banish negativity almost instantly.
Get Back to Nature
Many of us don’t spend enough time outside, in a place that speaks to our soul. Think about how you feel when you spend time on a beach, hearing the waves crash around you, and watching the glistening water. It’s hard to feel negative when seeing a sight like that. And it’s hard to feel overly sorry for yourself because it helps you to realize there is a much bigger world out there. You and your problems aren’t the center of the universe, even if it feels like they are at times.
Nature can be an instant pick-me-up that can put positive thoughts and feelings back in your heart. “Our bodies can actually commune with the energy of nature through energy training, and they can achieve a harmonious, balanced state,” Lee said.
Like anything else you’ll do, practicing positivity is a habit. It’s okay to fail—we all have negative thoughts sometimes. But the key is to keep trying, to never stop attempting to be the best, most positive version of yourself you can.
“Life is meant to push onward and upward, always evolving to a higher, more well-adapted form,” Lee writes in Earth Citizen.