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By Paige Holtan
Every once and a while we all have a day that seems down in the dumps, but how do we bounce back to feeling happy, productive, and successful?  This is where I truly believe in the power of positive thinking. There is one quote that has stuck with me over the years, “I am in charge of how I feel and today I choose happiness.” (Unknown) This one repeats in my mind throughout each day because although we may not be able to control the weather, our workload, or the traffic around us, we can always choose how we react to each situation.  Some of you may be more familiar with another common quote, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” (Dennis P. Kimbro)
We must train our mind to think positive in every situation.  Do not get discouraged if this doesn’t come naturally because training our mind to be positive is just like training our brain for an exam or our muscles for a race, we must continue to work hard for it until it become second nature.  Barbara Fredrickson (Ph.D. from Carleton College and doctorate from Stanford University) is a leading scholar within positive psychology and a researcher at the University of North Carolina that provides excellent insight about positive thinking.  She often connects our positive thinking to creating lifelong skills verses negative thinking in which our brain is programmed to shut off the outside world and focus only on the negative experience.  This negative way of thinking limits the options we see to overcome the obstacle.  She puts this in a more simple term in her book (Positivity. 2009, p.55) “Just as water lilies retract when sunlight fades, so do our minds when positivity fades.”
For years, people have believed that happiness creates positive emotions.  Lately many of the leaders in the positive psychology field have studied and researched how positive emotions can foster happiness. Positive people tend to expect good health, success, happiness, wealth, and good relationships.  Usually those things tend to show up not because those people are already successful, more confident, or outgoing; it’s simply because of their positive attitude. So what can we do to become more of a positive person?
Follow some of these simple tips to become more positive:
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones (example: use the phrase, I Can and I Will!)
  • Expect good things
  • Hang out with positive people and spend less time with those that drain your energy
  • Do things that make you happy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Walk and Sit with good posture
 Now it’s time for you to take some action and remember optimism is contagious!