It is no secret that when we feel positive about ourselves and our surroundings, we are happier, we are more likely to get things done and are we are typically more enjoyable to be around. When life is more fun, we generally have a more open mind about things and as guitarists and musicians, we feel good about our playing. As people, we are more relaxed and this good feeling spreads to those we care about.
So how do we become more positive, especially in a world that seems to focus on the negative? Fundamentally, it's easy, but it requires practice. We've all heard of the phrase "Garbage in, garbage out" (i.e. negative input makes negative output). This statement, when flipped around, is also true from the positive perspective - positive input makes us have positive output. If we feed our mind with negative input, we are going to feel negative about ourselves and our surroundings. If we feed our minds with the good, the clean, the positive and the pure; we will find that we are much happier.
This takes practice though. Have you ever caught yourself thinking negatively and finding that your next thought is also a negative one? Whether you realize it or not, you've booked yourself a ticket on the Negative Train. Conversely, if we can think positively, we'll often find that our next thought is a positive one as well. What we need to do here is get ourselves a ticket on the "Positive Train" instead of on the "Negative Train".
Here are some easy exercises that you can do in everyday life to help you get that ticket on the Positive Train:
1. News. Simply limit how much time you watch the news on TV or listen to it on the radio or read about it on the internet. Or, take the plunge and eliminate it all together. Don't worry, if something really bad happens, you know that someone will tell you all about it. ;^) News tends to be very negative and the time that you spend watching, listening or reading it can be better spent doing something productive like spending time with your family or cleaning the house or practicing guitar or anything else that makes you feel better about you.
2. Limit how much time you spend watching TV in general. Much of TV is essentially junk food for the mind. It "tastes" good while you are watching it, but like junk food, too much of it can make you mentally "overweight"; it can be very limiting to you and your family. Just like with the News item above, the time you save here by not watching TV and doing something that makes you really feel good, will contribute to your overall positive viewpoint of life. The old Greek adage, "Everything in Moderation" is a great one and certainly applies here too.
3. Get some exercise. Even if it's just for 5 minutes. I don't need to cite the many, many statistical findings out there that show that when you get exercise, your body feels stronger and you feel better about yourself and life in general. We'll frequently find that if we just only exercise for 5 min., it frequently turns into 15 min. or more. Get up off of the couch and get moving! You owe it to yourself and your family!
4. Smile at yourself in the mirror. This one sounds kind of silly, but you'll find that when you see your own face smiling back at yourself in the mirror, you instantly feel better. Try this when you brush your teeth in the morning. Even if you don't feel like smiling at first, force yourself to do it and you'll find that the smiles come pretty easy after that. Remember - everything takes practice so smile!
5. Think and say positive things to yourself. Just like with smiling above, you may feel silly at first, but when you really think about it, you are your own best friend and advocate. Life is tough enough as it is, make sure you get your own best friend cheering you on as well! Try simple things at first like "Great job!", "You're really doing well today!", "Nice work!” You can really say anything to yourself as long as it is positive and it makes you feel good about yourself.
6. Think of problems as opportunities. When a problem presents itself to you, think of it as an opportunity to learn and improve yourself, not as some negative event that will drag you down. Those people who have the most success in life take advantages of problems when they occur. They learn and grow from them and don't beat themselves up mentally when these occur (e.g. self-talk such as "I should have known", "Why does this happen to me", etc.). If we can learn to view problems as opportunities and take advantage of them in a positive manner when they occur, we'll not only feel much better about ourselves, we'll also be improving our lives in the present and in the future. All you have to do here is a quick switch in your thinking when a problem presents itself to you, think "this is an opportunity to make myself better" and then smile and get going!
These are only a small example of the great techniques out there for positive thinking - there are a great number of exercises out there that you can use as well.
For more information on thinking positively, take a look at this great article online:
Also, you may want to go to a book store and pick up a book on positive thinking. There are plenty of them out there.
Remember, practice using these simple exercises EVERY DAY and book your ticket onto the "Positive Train". You and those that you care about will be glad that you did!