Exercise Your Mind To Turn Anxiety Into Positive Thinking

By Barton Goldsmith Tribune News Service.

Keeping your thoughts moving in a positive direction not only makes you feel good in the moment but also can reduce your sadness factor measurably. In addition, it can give you the one thing that we all need to keep our lives moving forward: hope.

The more you employ positive thinking, the longer the effects last.

There is a book that has been around for a long time by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale called The Power of Positive Thinking, which has helped make the world what it is today. It was one of the very first human-potential books, and it has served millions. I strongly urge you to read it if you haven't already. It can only help.

Even though this idea has been around a very long time and has become the theme for hundreds of seminars and other books, positive thinking isn't really that easy to accomplish, especially if your sadness has kept you from stretching yourself and stopped you from doing things you might enjoy.

After being sad for a while, you actually train your mind to accept your sadness and you work your life around it. By employing positive thinking, however, you can change the way your thoughts control your life, as you take charge of what is going on inside your head. The first thing you need to do is to understand this and believe that you can do something about your condition, reduce your sadness and lead a happier life.

The next step is to look at how you think. When it comes to socializing, do you feel anxious? If so, you may have a touch of social anxiety. Lots of people have social anxiety, and there is even medication available for it, but it's also possible to overcome all by yourself. Once you have identified the problem, the next step is to think about how you would feel if things were different.

Imagine walking into a room and feeling confident, where your sadness is only a distant memory. You are meeting and greeting people, engaging in conversations and actually enjoying yourself. Granted, this is just in your head right now, but that's where it all starts. You have to think and imagine how you would behave if your sadness weren't holding you back. Then think about how the person you would like to be would behave in a similar situation. Putting yourself in a new pair of psychological shoes is a great way for planning how you will respond to new social interactions.

The next step is to begin the process of changing your thinking from negative to positive. When you imagine yourself at a party, how does it make you feel? Nervous and uncomfortable? The power of positive thinking is that you can change how you feel by just saying to yourself that you will feel good at the party, and saying it over and over. This is a type of affirmation that will help change your old thinking pattern.

It takes about 30 repetitions to create a new habit, so you'll need to do this exercise about 30 times to start making changes. But the more you do it, the more positive your thinking will become, and before you know it, you'll be the life of the party. ___ (Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.")

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