Like anxiety, negativity serves an evolutionary purpose—our ancestors relied on a shrewd, critical mindset in order to anticipate danger, react quickly in a crisis, and ultimately advance our species. But this historical significance doesn't excuse pervasive negative thinking in our everyday lives—not only does it fail to serve a purpose in our modern world, but it also increases stress and wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health (yes, our thoughts are that powerful).
But despite this knowledge, I am in no way immune to negative thinking—especially when bound up in moments of anxiety, frustration, or stress. But when I noticed this becoming a way of thinking rather than a random, infrequent occurrence, I took action to counteract my negative thoughts. Using a five-step method closely chronicled in Mindbodygreen, I am now able to monitor my negative thoughts, stop them in real time, and replace them with positive ones more rooted in reality.
But more than anything, the success of this practice is rooted in gratitude, empathy, and a general awareness of just how fortunate I am in many aspects of my life. This aligns with Mindbodygreen's fifth and final tip: Make a gratitude list. "On one of those off days, sit down with a piece of paper and come up with five things you're grateful for," they write. "Believe it or not, all these things and more are something to be grateful for." This exercise can actually change your outlook on life and help you to naturally gravitate toward the positives in the future.
Look on the bright side
How have you conquered negative thinking in your life? Share your method with us below!