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12 Positive Thinking Exercises

We all know it is vital to remain physically fit. But many of us neglect our mental health, and positive thinking goes right out the window after a while. We need to realize that it is important to exercise both our bodies and our minds.

Exercising one’s mind can be as easy as doing simple positive thinking exercises. In fact, you might be surprised to find out just how helpful these sorts of activities can be.

Do you find that you have a pessimistic attitude much of the time? It doesn’t have to be that way if you get into the habit of exercising your mind and body. All you have to do is take advantage of some simple positive thinking exercises, which we will discuss in further detail. Let’s get started.

The Importance of a Positive Attitude

Before we get into the positive thinking exercises, let’s determine why it is essential to have a positive attitude. When you are in a negative mindset, it can affect many areas of your life, including your self-esteem and even your relationships with others.

On the other hand, if you have a positive attitude, you can achieve just about anything you want, from career goals to relationship goals and so much more.

When you have a positive attitude about life in general, that tends to rub off on others. It can positively affect your relationships with family, friends, and significant other.

Positive Thinking Exercises to Increase Your Optimism

While being optimistic seems to come naturally to some people, it can be challenging for others, especially when dealing with many negative issues. If you find yourself being pessimistic, try any of the following positive thinking exercises that will help to improve your attitude and increase your optimism.

Believe in Yourself

Before you can have a positive attitude, you must believe in yourself and that you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. When you believe in yourself, it shows that you care about yourself.

If you are trying something new, instead of feeling as though you may fail, tell yourself that you can do it, and if you mess up the first time, you can always try again. Believing in yourself and that you can achieve your goals will help you do just that; any mistakes are simply lessons you learn along the way.

Use Positive Daily Affirmations

Something everyone can do to remain optimistic is positive daily affirmations. In fact, this can help to remind you just how great things in your life are, even when you are feeling down about things. So, what are positive affirmations? They are statements you say to yourself, as many times a day as necessary, that will make you feel good.

For instance, maybe you are having some self-esteem issues. Instead of feeling down about yourself, find something you like about yourself, and repeat it throughout the day. It could be as simple as, “I am a nice person,” or looking in a mirror and saying, “I am beautiful.” The more you repeat these affirmations, the more you will believe what you say.

Leave the Past in the Past

Dwelling on the past will get you nowhere now or in the future. It can bring you down and keep you from being positive and optimistic. Sure, we have moments when we think about things that have happened in the past, and we all have negative feelings about events from our past. But having a bright future will be pretty much impossible if you dwell on these things.

While it can be difficult, you need to find ways to let go of the things that have happened in the past and focus on your life right now and your future. You can’t change the past, but you can create a better present. Focus on living in the moment and enjoying your life right now.

Take Time to Breathe

You may think, “I breathe naturally, so why should I take time to breathe?” Well, there is a good reason why. Sometimes, when you are in a bad situation, just stepping back and taking a few deep breaths can help to put you in a different mindset. Focus on your breathing and nothing else; you will find that it clears your head.

When you do this exercise, you will likely find that you can think more rationally, and this will help to give you a more positive mindset. It will also help you to stay in the present moment, which will also help you to have a better perspective.

Don’t be So Hard on Yourself

The old saying that we are our own worst enemies is so true! We all tend to put ourselves down, especially when we feel down on ourselves to begin with. We all fear failure, and often, we will beat ourselves up over the tiniest of mistakes.

It is essential to realize that not everything you do will be perfect, especially if it is the first time you are doing it. Stop being so hard on yourself. If you make a mistake, look for ways to correct it instead of being upset about it and do whatever is right the next time. Remember, mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities.

Positive Thinking Exercises

Look on the Bright Side

No matter how bad things get, there is always something positive in everything negative. Even if you are only learning a lesson, know that what you are learning is valuable for you and your life. If necessary, write a list of all of the positive things in your life. You might be surprised to see just how long that list really is.

This is something you should strive to do each and every day. The things on the list don’t have to be big. For instance, maybe you helped someone with a project. You can feel good that you were able to help and did so out of the goodness of your heart. Try to find at least one thing every day that you can be positive about, and avoid dwelling on anything negative.

Be Grateful

The more you practice gratitude, the happier you will be in the long run. It will help you to be more positive, and you will have more optimism. There are so many ways you can practice gratitude. Some people even create a gratitude journal, writing down everything they are grateful for daily.

Look for things in your day-to-day life that you are thankful for. These don’t have to be huge things. In fact, it may be that you are grateful to have seen a beautiful sunset. Or, maybe you are thankful that your kids are healthy and happy. The more you can practice gratitude, the more you will notice the good things surrounding you.

Set Realistic Goals

When you make unrealistic goals that you will likely never be able to achieve, you will never be happy with yourself. Rather than setting your goals too high, set goals you can achieve. This doesn’t mean that everything needs to be super-easy. You do need to challenge yourself, so your goals should reflect this.

If you don’t know how to do something, don’t challenge yourself to go out and do it. Instead, challenge yourself to learn how to do it first. Then, once you have learned, you can set a new goal and complete the project. You will feel great about yourself because you achieved your goals, encouraging you to develop even more realistic goals.

Read Books that Will Inspire You

Getting inspired can be difficult, so looking for inspiration within yourself and outside sources is vital. So many great books you can read will give you the inspiration you need to get out there and live your best life. Look for interesting books; otherwise, you may not want to read them.

While they are a bit cliched, the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books are great for inspiration. The stories in these books will help you see that life sometimes hands you lemons, but use the lemons to make lemon meringue pie. Not only will inspirational books help you with your mental health, but they will also help you learn how to help others.

Remove Negative Words from Your Vocabulary

Some words just bring us down, no matter what context they are used in. For example, the words “no,” “can’t,” “don’t,” and “won’t” should be virtually eliminated from your vocabulary. Rather than using these words daily, look for more positive words to replace them with.

Instead of saying, “I can’t,” say, “maybe I can if someone could show me how to do it.”

When you eliminate negative words and look for positive alternatives, you will soon find that you are more positive overall and willing to try doing new things (and eventually succeed at doing them). This will benefit you, and others may learn from your example and eliminate negative words from their vocabularies.

Stop Making Excuses

We all have the tendency to find ways to avoid challenges. Often, we simply tell ourselves that we can’t do something just to prevent failing if we really can’t do it. Stop doing this!

Don’t make excuses as to why you can’t do something. Instead, try doing it and see what happens. If you fail, look for the lesson you have learned in the process, and try again.

The more you make excuses, the more you will avoid doing anything that will help improve your life. Don’t listen to that negative voice inside your head. Instead, say yes to new things more often, and don’t make excuses as to why you cannot do something.

Become a Smile Collector

Some people collect toys. Others collect pottery, sports cards, or other items. But did you know you can be a collector of something you can’t physically hold in your hands? You can collect smiles easily; unlike other collections, this one will not cost you anything.

Get a small notebook. Write it down in your book whenever someone smiles at you or even just draw a smiley face. Look at what you have written at the end of each day. You may be surprised to see how many smiles you have collected. Take a moment to reflect on these happy moments; it will help you have a more positive mindset.


There will always be times when you just don’t feel like you have it in you to be positive. That’s okay, as long as it isn’t an all-the-time thing. The exercises we have discussed today can help to improve your mindset, no matter how many negative thoughts are running through your head.

Look for ways to be more positive, and practice being more positive at every opportunity. It won’t be long before you can easily brush away negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Also, know that having a positive mindset will rub off on others.


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