4 Ways to Become a More Positive Thinker

Positive thinking helps you get better freelance clients and deal with challenges. It also leads to better health and more happiness. 

“Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know,” says H. Jackson Brown, Jr. in Life’s Little Instruction Book, the #1 New York Times bestseller. That’s great advice for all of us.  Positive thinking is especially important for freelancers, because we have more than our share of challenges and disappointments.

Most of the time, we can’t control the bad things that happen to us. Freelance jobs get delayed or cancelled. We lose clients because of problems inside the company that have nothing to do with our work. Prospective clients say they’re interested in our services but never hire us . . .

Freelance life isn’t fair.  And it’s definitely not easy.

Positive Thinking Helps Freelancers Succeed

But when bad things happen, positive thinkers look for ways to make the best of the situation. We believe in our ability to turn challenges into opportunities. We bounce back from the inevitable disappointments of freelance life—because we have grit and a positive attitude.

And a positive attitude is contagious. Clients want to work with freelancers who are positive and colleagues want to refer work to us. We don’t have to work as hard to build our businesses because clients and colleagues are naturally drawn to us.

But if you whine about how unfair life is, you’ll continue to struggle to make a living. No one likes to be around—or work with—negative people. And a negative attitude always shows. Building a freelance business is much harder because a negative attitude zaps your energy. And you’re likely to give up when things don’t go your way.

“Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst,” says Mayo Clinic in “Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress.”

Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

Your thoughts—positive or negative—have a powerful impact on your body. Studies are showing that positive thinkers are healthier and happier than pessimists.

One reason is that positive thinking helps you cope with stress.

“When faced with stressful situations, positive thinkers cope more effectively than pessimists,” says Kendra Cherry, in “The Benefits of Positive Thinking for Body and Mind.”

Coping for positive thinkers means taking action to change what is within their control. Pessimists will dwell on what they can’t change.

Mayo Clinic has a long list of possible health benefits of positive thinking:

  • Longer life
  • Less risk of depression
  • Less distress
  • More resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better heart health and less risk of dying from heart disease
  • More ability to cope during hardships and times of stress.

And with time and practice, anyone can become a positive thinker. Here are 4 things you can do to become more positive.

1. Ditch the Negative and Focus on the Positive.

Instead of dwelling on what’s bad about a situation, blaming yourself, or automatically thinking the worst will happen, focus on what’s good.

“Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself,” says Mayo Clinic.

Here are a few examples of positive thoughts to replace negative thoughts:

Say this:

“I’m talented and smart  and can learn what I don’t already know.”

Instead of this:

 “No one will hire me because I’m not good enough.”

Say this:

“This is a great opportunity for me to learn something new.”

Instead of this:

 “I’ve never done this before. I can’t possibly do this.”

Say this:

“I can learn how market my business so I can get the clients I deserve.”

Instead of this:

“I’m not good at marketing like you are.”

Say this:

“If I keep doing great marketing, clients will contact me when they need a freelancer.”

Instead of this:

“Clients aren’t responding to my marketing so why should I bother doing it?”

2. Work Your Body.

Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain to improve your mood, reduce your stress, and give you more energy.

Sherrie Campbell says exercise is “one of the quickest ways to shift from a negative attitude” in “10 Surefire Ways a Positive Attitude Increases Success.” Exercise helps you re-set your thoughts.

Mayo Clinic suggests working out for about 30 minutes most days. If you can’t get to the gym, go for a 15-minute walk twice a day. Eating healthy also fuels positive thinking.

3. Laugh and Smile More.

Like exercise, laughing and smiling help you cope with life’s ups and downs and feel happier. “When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed,” says Mayo Clinic.

And research shows that people with a good sense of humor handle stress better and have more self-esteem. And smiling relaxes you, and makes you seem more likeable, courteous, and competent. Laughter even has some of the same benefits as meditating. Both help you focus and think more clearly.

4. Surround Yourself with Positive People.

Being around negative people will make you more negative and add to your stress. Find positive people who can support you and help you become more positive.

“Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback,” says Mayo Clinic.

Be Happy

“Don’t worry, be happy,” sings Bobby McFerrin in his song by the same name:

“In every life we have some trouble

But when you worry you make it double.”

McFerrin is right—and he knows how to focus on the positive.

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Other Resources

Mayo Clinic, “Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress”

Kendra Cherry, “The Benefits of Positive Thinking for Body and Mind”

Kendra Cherry, How to Become a Positive Thinker”

Sherrie Campbell, “10 Surefire Ways a Positive Attitude Increases Success”