Ways to find encouragement: Positive thinking

Positive thinking.

I’ve talked about the power of positive thinking before — specifically in 9 of the What I’ve learned about achieving personal goals.

The thing about successful people (achievers) and “unsuccessful” people (non-achievers) is that they think differently from each other. Successful people ultimately end up creating their own success through their habitual way of thinking (and then acting on those thoughts). They think they can, so they do.

If you were successful all the time, would you think differently about achieving goals than someone who is habitually down on themselves? Of course you would.

The main thought process that distinguishes “achievers” from “non-achievers” is OPTIMISM.

So if you want to be an achiever, become an optimist.

Optimists don’t always succeed at everything they do, but they are so confident in their overall success, that they don’t let their failures or shortcoming be anything but a temporary setback. Instead, they just chalk these up as learning experiences and resolve to keep trying things until they succeed.

Now, I’m not suggesting to just become blind to doing something poorly, or failing, or that blind optimism is a good thing. Thinking positive only gets you so far. Thinking positive can help provide the fuel necessary to accomplish difficult tasks, but it doesn’t mean mistakes or failures don’t happen.

The trick is to be persistent and to keep trying different things until you reach your goal. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect to get different results.

One thing that might be somewhat encouraging is realizing this:

Successful people fail a lot.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

When one feels optimistic about their life and dreams, that’s encouraging.

Ways to find encouragement: Train (or re-train) your brain

Ways to find encouragement series:

Train (or re-train) your brain

Whatever you focus on only grows stronger. So if you’re focused on how discouraged you are — or anything negative — then you’re only setting yourself up for more of the same.

Instead, focus on what you want. If you catch yourself focusing on something you don’t want, stop, take a breath, and tell yourself you’re not doing that anymore. And then focus on something else.

It can be anything but that negative line of thinking at first. Anything to break that train of thought and those thought patterns.

But if you can train yourself to flip from those negative thought patterns into thinking positive/productive ones, that will help.

See, your brain likes the “roads of thought” you’ve built (neural pathways) and it will most often follow the same line of thinking as it has before — even if that proves to not be in your own best interest.

And when it does this enough, a habit forms. Habits are what we DO when we’re on AUTOPILOT. Your brain goes where it knows — and it takes the rest of you with it.

The good news is we can teach ourselves new habits (that are life enhancing) to replace those that often work against us. But this typically takes some conscious effort on our part to basically overwrite a bad habit (or an old negative thought pattern) with a good one. But it can be done.

For starters, I’d say whenever you find yourself focusing on something like “I’m so discouraged” or “Nothing is going right.” — catch yourself in the act and say “Hey brain, not this time.”

And then walk it down a different path — preferably one that you know will make you feel better. Focusing on what you like in life, places you love, or what you’re truly grateful for can help change your mental state from a negative one to a positive one. Your brain may resist at first and keep turning your attention back towards your negative thought patterns, but with consistent effort, you can truly take charge of it.

Many people don’t realize they can re-train their brain. They make excuses that “that’s just the way they are” and “they’ll never change” (when they want to) — but they CAN.

When you take charge of your thought process, you will feel more in control. And that’s encouraging.

Recommended reading:

Related videos:


12 ways to find encouragement.

The following is an exchange the took place last night as a result of someone commenting on this post. While what I wrote was just a comment (a long one), I shared it with someone who said, “That’s not a comment, that’s a blog post.” So I’ve decided to share it here in case any finds any value in it.

Miss Discouraged wrote:

From what I see about this blog. I saw a bit of myself. As far as I am concerned, I’ve been discouraged for so long. its starting to become extremely hard to find that part of myself again. Any help or advice to remove discouragement? I’ve been trying hard to pick myself up and again and still start believing that I can still achieve my dreams.

Hey MD —

Without knowing your story, this is what I’d say…

Ways to find encouragement series:

Ok, I could write more, but I’m losing steam (it’s late here)… lemme know if this is at all helpful or if there’s something specific you’d like to hear my thoughts on. Like I said, this is pretty general because I don’t know your story.

In any case, I think on some level you know you’re not going to stay discouraged forever — which is GOOD. :) Sometimes we just need a little kickstart to break our thought patterns from what we don’t want to what we DO want.