Positive Thinking – the Complete Guide

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Have you ever wondered where optimists get the strength to stay positive in every situation? Positive thinking changes lifes. It’s not just what you think about, it’s also how you think about it. If you are ready to change your life in a positive way, this article is just right for you.

Optimists seek a lesson in every defeat. Instead of getting upset and blaming someone else, they take control of their emotions and ask themselves: “What can I learn from this situation?”

In this guide, we will explain what positive thinking is, how it is scientifically proven, what benefits it brings and how you can learn it. Finally, we show you some hints to expand your positive thinking skills.

Jump ahead to any of the sections below:

What Is Positive Thinking?

Positive Thinking Positive Thoughts

Positive thinking is a decision. It is the mental and emotional attitude to always focus on the positive sides of life and strive for positive results. A positive mindset involves more than just appearing happy to the outside world or having a positive appearance. It is an attitude that affects every aspect of our lives.

However, a positive attitude in life does not mean that you avoid all unpleasant situations. Rather, you decide to approach such events more positively and productively. As already mentioned, it is the decision to concentrate on the best case and not the worst case.

Thinking positive begins with the control of your inner self talks. We all have this inner voice that speaks to us, shapes our thoughts and guides us. It is an automatism controlled by the subconscious. There is positive and negative self talk. So the thoughts that are formed from these self talks can be positive or negative. Some self talks are triggered by logic and conclusions, others by speculation and a lack of information.

When the thoughts that go through your head are negative, your attitude towards life becomes negative too. Having a positive mindset, however, makes you more likely to be an optimist. In other words, someone who is thinking positive. If you want to learn how to have a positive mind, you should start with your self talks.

Besides, you should know that positive and negative thinking is contagious.

You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

In other words: We influence our fellows as much as they influence us. It only takes a few words or a certain posture of our fellows to evoke certain reactions in our subconscious. These reactions, in turn, lead us to spend our time with happy people rather than with negative ones.

Facts About Positive Thinking

Positive thoughts are sustainable. They can create real value in your life and help you to acquire valuable skills. Nevertheless, many people still think it is nonsense.

Does positive thinking really work? The short answer is yes, it does.

It is scientifically proven that a positive attitude can have a considerable influence on your career and your life in general.

Imagine you are walking in a forest and suddenly a wolf appears. That what happens in your brain afterward is a normal reaction – you develop negative emotions, in this case, fear.

Positive Thinking Wolf

Existing research on positive thinking found that your subconscious mind maps actions onto certain emotions. As soon as you meet the wolf in the forest, you start running away. You don’t care about the rest of the world right now. Your focus is solely on the wolf and the fear.

In other words, negative emotions limit your way of thinking and focus you on the negative. You could also climb a tree, collect leaves or pick up a stick at the same moment. However, your brain ignores these options because the negative emotion forces it to make a decision. That’s why your mind gives you the order: “Run for your life” and disregard everything else.

That may be a very meaningful instinct when it comes to survival. However, in today’s civilized society, this response to dangerous situations became less relevant. The subconscious, though, is still prepared to react to negative emotions in this way – it gives you tunnel vision and makes you overlook alternative solutions. Negative emotions can include aggression, stress, depression or anxiety.

People tend to think negatively all the time. This has nothing to do with the fact that we enjoy being in a bad mood but is connected to the protective mechanism of our mind. We manifest negative thoughts like sadness, anger or disappointment much longer in our mind than positive feelings.

For example, when you have a dispute with someone, you develop anger and hatred for that person. These negative emotions will cloud your attention so much that you can’t think about anything else all day except the argument with the person you had.

Just think about how quickly we forget positive news while constantly thinking on negatives for days. You have already forgotten your partner’s lovingly prepared breakfast by afternoon. The murder you heard on the radio this morning, however, stays in your head all week.

This behavior can also be explained scientifically.

Our mind tends to adapt to repetitive situations. When something happens often enough, it connects emotions and feelings with this situation. Let’s say you don’t have any positive thoughts about work and suppose you’re not happy with your current job as a baker.  At some point, you will find yourself in a situation where you find the smell of freshly baked bread disgusting – even if it liked fresh bread in the past.

Your mind has registered that you are unhappy when you are surrounded by bread. So the logical conclusion for your brain is that the smell of bread must be the problem. In this scenario, your mind links the neurons responsible for the smell of bread with those responsible for disgust. The result: the smell of freshly baked bread will draw you down in the future.

In this way, negative energy is transformed into even more negativity.

From this insight you can learn the following lesson: We are sad because we choose to be sad. That’s right. We ourselves are to blame if we think negatively.

Negativity is addictive. Although positive thoughts are so much more beautiful than negative ones, we spend too little time appreciating the positive things in life and being happy. We tend to believe that thinking positive is not a habit. That’s simply not true.

Negativity is also something we taught ourselves. Our addiction to it, like anything else, can be overcome. It’s a decision each of us has to make. It’s the decision to be happy.

Benefits of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking makes you happy. That’s no secret. However, a positive attitude has many more advantages than that. Through a positive mindset, we experience more positive thoughts and emotions in life. This leads to more energy, happiness, and vitality. Our physical health also benefits from it.

Let’s start with the health benefits of positive thinking. Researchers have been investigating the effects of positive thinking on our bodies for quite some time now. They agree that the mental power coming from our mind has a considerable influence on many medical aspects of our body.

Here are some health benefits of positive thinking:

  • You live longer
  • Less susceptibility to depression
  • Increased resistance to colds
  • Better well-being (mentally and physically)
  • Improved cardiovascular system

The science behind positive thinking knows that these health improvements are related to a positive attitude. The only thing they don’t know yet is how in detail. The precise effects have not yet been fully explored.

A well-known theory is that positive thoughts enable your body to deal more easily with stress. As a result, the harmful effects of stress are not effective and can be fended off by your body without any problems and free of damage.

Now let’s talk about how positive thinking affects the brain.

A person with a positive mind expects only positive results from every situation. That is why this person has an increased self-confidence and believes that he or she can overcome any hurdle. For this person, there is no problem that cannot be solved. A positive attitude to life also leads to increased motivation.

Positive Thinking Movies

Scientists at the University of North Carolina have tested the mental influence of positive thoughts in an experiment. During the exercise, the testers were divided into five different groups. Each group was shown different films.

The first two groups saw films that develop positive thoughts among the audience. Group 1 saw films that create happiness, while Group 2 watched clips that arouse satisfaction. The third group was the control group, to which neutral films were shown.

Group 4 and Group 5, on the other hand, had to watch films that arouse negative thoughts. While the fourth group saw frightening clips, the fifth group got to see films that generate anger and hate.

After all groups had seen the corresponding films, a short exercise was carried out. Each participant should remember a familiar situation from the film and write down what action they would take. Each tester received a piece of paper and a pen and should start each sentence with “I would…”.

Participants from groups 4 and 5 came up with the fewest answers. The test persons from groups 1 and 2, on the other hand, wrote down a significantly higher number of answers. Even in comparison to the control group, the participants who saw positive films were able to write down considerably more.

In other words: When you feel things like happiness, love, and satisfaction, you are more creative and solution-oriented. You can think of possible solutions that pessimists would never come up with because they are far too busy with themselves.

The insights gained from the experiment are proof that positive thoughts broaden your horizon and make you think solution-oriented.

Positive Thinking Free Your Mind

An expanded horizon allows you to think in a solution-oriented way, but there is another much more important advantage that positive thinking brings. It’s the ability to acquire skills that will be useful to us later in life.

A child who plays outside with friends improves critical abilities for the future. Through physical activity, (physical skills) being together with friends (social competence) and the fact that it explores things (creative skills), the child acquires important skills that will later be decisive for its future. So the positive thoughts that the child feels when playing are responsible for developing physical, social and creative abilities.

You probably remember difficult subjects from your schooldays. When you had problems understanding things, you felt uncomfortable and you certainly didn’t like this class. That’s because you’ve been linking negative emotions to that subject.

In school subjects where you wrote good grades, however, you had a lot more fun. Once you understood things, you felt good and that drove you to learn more. Another example of how positive thinking enhances our abilities.

Positive thinking supports you in developing new skills. Negativity, on the other hand, has exactly the opposite effect. That’s because looking into the future is insignificant if we are exposed to acute danger. (For example by being eaten by a wolf)

In summary, there are many benefits of having a good attitude. More than you might think. It’s not just about temporarily being happy and feeling a little lucky, it’s more about long-term success. Every time your mind grasps a positive thought, it has no time to think anything negative. You force your subconscious to make you happy.

After you learn how to have a positive mind, you will notice how the world around you is changing. It is not your environment that changes, but the perspective from which you view it. Everything stays the same, except for your viewpoint.

Your mind will start emitting more endorphins. Since endorphin is a hormone for happiness, it will make you feel lighter and happier. Another side effect is increased self-confidence. The fact that you think in a solution-oriented way will enable you to master tasks that you previously thought were impossible. Again, it is not the tasks that have changed, it is the way you see them.

You have limited yourself in the past by negative thoughts. Therefore, you were so deterred by certain tasks that you did not even want to try them. Positive thinking makes this a thing of the past.

By thinking less about problems and more about solutions, every task seems to be feasible for you. As a result, you will develop personally and celebrate many personal successes. After all, people grow with their tasks and responsibilities.

In summary, here are the most important benefits of being positive:

  • You live longer
  • Less susceptibility to depression
  • Increased resistance to colds
  • Better well-being (mentally and physically)
  • Improved cardiovascular system
  • Broader horizons and solution-oriented thinking
  • Positive thinking encourages you to develop skills
  • Your body emits more endorphin that makes you happier
  • Strengthened self-confidence

All these benefits raise the most important question: If a positive attitude in life is so useful, how can I learn to think positive?

How to Think Positive

In order to change your mindset from negative to positive, you need more than just mental willingness. It is not enough that you are aware of the advantages a positive attitude brings and that it can change your life. You have to work on yourself and invest time to really unleash the power of a positive mind.

To help you on your journey to more positivity in life, we have created a practical step-by-step instruction.

Detect Negative Thoughts

Positive Thinking Negative Thoughts

As already mentioned, a positive mind starts with controlling your self-talk. You need to realize when you’re having negative self-talks. Only then will you be able to mentally intervene and turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

Often negativity creeps in as habits. In other words, you don’t even notice how negatively you think about everything and everyone anymore. That’s what makes it so hard to get out of this negative space.

To make your start a little easier, here are some examples of negative thoughts:

  • The filtering. You focus far too much on the negative aspects of a situation and filter all the positive ones. Imagine you had a very successful day at work. You were able to complete all the tasks that were scheduled for the day and received praise and admiration from your colleagues and superiors. When you get home, however, you have already forgotten the compliments and are already planning the tasks for the next day.
  • Accusations. Once an accident happens, you blame yourself for the dilemma. For example, if a friend calls you off, you blame yourself. You believe that your buddy doesn’t like you anymore or doesn’t want to spend time with you.
  • Overreacting. You see the end of the world in every situation. The barista blew your morning coffee order. That is already reason enough for you to let this ruin your day.

Positive Self Talk

After you’ve learned how to detect negative thoughts, we now come to how you can turn them off. In theory, it’s not that difficult. You just have to change the negative thoughts with positive ones. In practice, however, things look different. It takes a lot of time and patience to reprogram new thinking patterns into your mind.

Check the way you think in regular intervals. Preferably several times a day. Once you realize that your thoughts are negative, try to find a way to turn them into positive.

Especially for the beginning, it can be helpful to focus on certain areas in your life. Where can you personally feel the most negative energy? Is it at work, at home or in your relationship? Start small and concentrate on one area first. Then you can apply this positive attitude to all the others.

After you have recognized the situations in which you have negative self-talk, the next step is to finally replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. To do this, you have to practice positive self-talk. Start with a simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to other people. Be polite and uplifting to yourself.

As soon as you realize that negative thoughts are spreading, try to think them through neutrally. Perform inner monologues and try to convince yourself of your strengths with positive affirmations. Think of things you’re grateful for in your life.

When a negative thought enters your mind, you must replace it with a positive one. If it returns, replace it again. Think of it this way: You stand in front of two paintings and have to decide to look at one and ignore the other. Persistence will teach your mind to think positively and ignore negative thoughts.

Keeping a positive mind is hard. That’s why we prepared some self talk exercises. Here are a few examples of how to change negative thoughts to positive:

Negative ThoughtPositive Thought
I’ve never done anything like this before.It’s a great way to learn something new.
It’s way too complicated.I’ll look at it from a different angle.
I’m way too lazy to do this.I didn’t get a chance to get into it. I’ll schedule some time for that.
There’s no way this is gonna work. I can try to make it work.
This is too radical a change.Let’s give it a try.
Nobody contacts me.I should call my friends again.
I can’t do any better.I’m gonna try it again.

Practice Positive Thinking Every Day

If you have a negative attitude, don’t expect to become an optimist overnight. Developing a positive mindset takes time. But with increasing practice, your inner self-talk will show less self-criticism and more positivity. You will generally be less critical about your environment.

No matter what your situation is right now. Think positive. Expect only positive results and the situation will change accordingly. If you keep up, you’ll change the way your mind works. It may take some time for the changes to take place, but they will.

If you encounter inner resistance and difficulties, don’t give up. Focus on the benefits of a positive attitude and persevere. It’s always easier to stay positive when everything goes well. However, if you are facing setbacks and still stay positive, you show yourself and the world around you what you are made of.

4 Ways to Think Positive

Positive Thinking Thumbs Up

Finally, we would like to give you a few tips on how to change your mindset. The following exercises should help you to stay positive in difficult times.


Psychology researchers have found that people who meditate daily have more positive energy. After only three months of daily meditation, increased mindfulness, improved social competence and reduced symptoms of illness could be observed.

Meditation can be the best way to remove negativity from your life and lead to an emotional and spiritual recovery. Meditation rejuvenates the mind, makes us more resistant and frees the body from harmful substances that cause stress and anxiety.

Look at it this way: If your mind is polarized to negativity, meditation would be the reset button with which you can pull the plug, turn off and start from zero. After that, it will be easier for you to tune your mind to an optimistic attitude.

By meditating frequently, you can undo a lot of mental damage and start off as a blank sheet. In this way, you can reinvent yourself and make yourself accessible to happiness and the joy of life.

Time to Relax

We put daily meetings, conference calls, dinners and all kinds of things on our calendar. Why not simply add an appointment for “having fun” to your calendar?

When was the last time you blocked an hour to just do things you wanted to do? Whether it’s Netflix, reading books or taking a walk in the fresh air, you can’t tell us that the weekly meeting on Wednesday is more important than your personal happiness. Nevertheless, we act like it because we simply have no place in our calendar for fun.

What are you waiting for? Enjoy the benefits of positive thoughts and add some personal time to your calendar.

Be Friendly

Kindness is a good way to make us happier. It has also been proven that goodness is also an excellent way to relieve stress.

Studies have shown that kindness is contagious. If someone is kind to you, it will unconsciously make you be kind to other people. The person who receives your kindness will have the same experience and so on and so forth.

Kindness also awakens gratitude in us. So if you have problems with positive thinking or don’t know what to be grateful for, it can be a good way to do something good for someone else. You’ll immediately realize how good you feel about it.

Avoid Stress

Positive thinking and stress don’t get along. Stress is the fire and grief, anger, sleeplessness, and depression are the smoke. If you put out the fire, the smoke will disappear as well.

Stress is usually the cause of everything that goes wrong in our lives. It is the quiet killer of our happiness and in most cases, it is our own fault that we are stressed.

Work too hard, and you will notice it in your health. Sleep too little and you’ll be exhausted. Neglect your friends and family and you’ll feel lonely.

All it takes are a few little things to get rid of the stress:

  • Drink more water
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Do sports
  • Watch your sleep rhythm

For more tips on how to develop positive thoughts, read on here.


Positive thinking is a mental ability that you can learn. It is the mental decision to open yourself to happiness and the joy of life.

Optimists have perfected this ability and gained control over their minds. They use this ability in everyday life to focus on their goals and leave no chance for negativity. Even if something goes wrong, they only see the positive.

You can be sure that if you seek the good in a person or situation long enough, you will find it.

Such a change, however, takes time. You’re about to program your subconscious.

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