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Mental Mistake Solution #1: Practice Positive Thinking

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

Positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness of life in a more positive and productive way. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news: Life is hard. But a positive thinker can think the best is going to happen, rather then the worst is going to happen. This can drastically help you in your achievements, goal setting, and leadership. Your glass can be half full most of the time with a little help.

The Science of Positive Thinking

Psychologist Martin Seligman, often frames positive thinking in terms of an explanatory style. Taken from .

"Your explanatory style is how you explain why events happened.

People with an optimistic explanatory style tend to give themselves credit when good things happen, but typically blame outside forces for bad outcomes. They also tend to see negative events as temporary and atypical.

On the other hand, individuals with a pessimistic explanatory style often blame themselves when bad things happen, but fail to give themselves adequate credit for successful outcomes. They also have a tendency to view negative events as expected and lasting.

As you can imagine, blaming yourself for events outside of your control or viewing these unfortunate events as a persistent part of your life can have a detrimental impact on your state of mind."

Simply put, how can you get anything done when you can’t start because you don’t think you can do it.

How to Think More Positively

Routinely and Out-loud

This is done the same way as learning motor skills – through repetition. Wake up in the morning with goals, a list of priorities, and an attitude that says you can do it. Say it out-loud and get excited. You are about to accomplish a lot.

Example: Before each practice, I usually ask my team: “How is the weather outside?” and everyone responds, “Perfect.”  This exercise is silly, however we have already begun eliminating outside forces that may bring in negative thoughts. Environment is an outside force you can’t control. You can only control your thoughts and attitude toward the outside forces.  

A track athlete could say - “It’s raining hard out here. I will push through and get better. What a great opportunity!”

What other outside forces do you not control?

How can you change your attitude toward those forces?

End Lazy Thinking and Talk

If you can indulge me for one second, I’m going to use a Sprinting Analogy:

Sloppy, undisciplined motor skills = bad running mechanics and slow times


Sloppy, undisciplined negative thoughts and talk will haunt you when you need them the most…during competition.

Watch what you say.

Do you think in Negative, Extreme, and Exaggerated terms?

1.  I always do this.

2.   I can’t.

3.   I am going to fail completely.

4. This post will reach no one and everyone will hate me.

5.  I am going to die out there and everyone will think of me as a joke.

6.  My business will generate no profit and I will have to go bankrupt.

7.  I have not one qualification.

8.  This is impossible.

9.  I have nothing to offer.

This is quick sand to your desired goals. The more you fight the farther you sink. Build a ladder of positive terms out of that hole you have been digging. I have used this is a previous post – but like the little train that could. “I think I can, I think I can.”

Give Purpose

Practice right thinking habits to be strong enough to hold up under pressure and frustration when you need to be your best. Put yourself in an environment you need to excel and practice how to think. Are your thoughts positive and uplifting or negative and condemning?

Make a purpose statement and hang it up somewhere. Read it often.

Ask yourself when negative talks begin:

- “This will make you better because of….”

- “Answer: Who or what are you working for” (Purpose Statement)

- Use Humor -  “You have to laugh to keep from crying.” (Dwight from The Office


Learning to think positive is like strengthening a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it will become.

When you think positive:

You act positive.

You create better goals.

You achieve more.

You have a clearer vision.

You live longer. (see article on psychology on your health) 

You see more realistically.

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened” – Mark Twain

You get excited about work.

You have a greater purpose.

You smile and are happy more.

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