Mindset is an important building block of happiness. If you don’t have a positive mindset and outlook on life, you’re likely to fail. Your brain will take every setback as proof that you can’t succeed, and your negative outlook will reinforce your sense of hopelessness and failure.
But what if you have a negative mindset? Are you doomed to failure and misery? Absolutely not! Barring major depression or another mental illness, your mindset can be changed if you’re willing to work at it. (And if the former applies to you, please seek appropriate help. You’re valuable and worth taking care of.)
That’s right, you can change your mindset. You can train your brain to be happy!
How? Well, it starts with the way you think. Your brain is a machine that’s constantly putting out thoughts. Most of these are thoughts about yourself and what you’re up to. This is called your self-talk.
If this self-talk is mostly negative, you tend to feel bad yourself and have a lower self-image. You also have a more negative outlook. The reverse is true if your self-talk is mostly positive.
Guess what? You’re in charge of your self-talk! You can change it. How? Start by noticing it and the thoughts going through your head. When you notice a negative one, stop and reframe it into something positive. “I can’t do that” becomes “Maybe I can if I try.” “You idiot” becomes “I’m not an idiot, I just wasn’t paying attention. I can do better. Next time I will.”
Do this every time you catch negative self-talk, and you will gradually adopt a more positive mindset. You can speed up the process by using affirmations multiple times a day. These are positive statements you say to yourself or write down that increase your self-esteem.
Other things you can do to help include meditation, journaling, and starting a gratitude habit. These have all been shown to improve your outlook and train your brain to be happier. Finally, starting an exercise habit will not only improve your mental outlook but cause your body to release endorphins and other chemicals that make you happier. As a bonus, you’ll get healthier too.
Changing your mindset won’t happen overnight. It’s a process and will take time. Don’t get discouraged if it proves harder than you thought. Remember that you’re trying to change a lifetime of conditioning and brain wiring. Be gentle with yourself and keep trying!