Positive thinking every day: How you can find joy in the little things

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**TW/CW: references to suicidal ideation and body image issues. I would hate to trigger any unpleasant thoughts for anyone, especially in a post about positive thinking!**

Do you find yourself struggling to be positive? Do negative thoughts consume you on a day to day basis? Could you use a little more positive thinking?

Just two years ago, this was me. One hundred percent. I was so depressed and overwhelmed by fatigue, I was finding it hard to function. I fell asleep so early every night that I might as well apply for my senior citizen discount. This, coupled with major postpartum body image issues, led to an onslaught of negative thoughts on a daily basis.

A little more about me

I was diagnosed with depression when I was about 13 years old. My first appointment with my therapist were filled with silence. I barely spoke. (That is how I recall it anyway. Part of my depression is poor memory of times I find traumatic or challenging.)

In high school, I was so self-conscious. A medication I was taking made me gain a significant amount of weight and I got a lot of stretch marks on my breasts and thighs and butt that I still have today. I hated it. I hated how I looked.

Fast forward to college. This was when the symptoms of my bipolar disorder began to present. I was very self-conscious about the way I was acting, although I wasn’t aware that I had bipolar disorder at the time. I was hypomanic on and off for most of 2006 and 2007.

In the months leading up to my wedding a few years later, my hypomania was in full swing. I wasn’t sleeping as much, my interpersonal relationships took a nosedive, and I was irritable as hell. Not exactly a fertile environment for positive thoughts.

After my wedding, I became suicidal for the first time. Thankfully, thoughts did not lead to actions for me, but I regularly thought about ending my life, thinking I had nothing to live for. Today, I am no longer suicidal but have a lot of guilt surrounding that period of my life. I wish I could have seen how many good things I had at the time.

Unfortunately, I was suicidal again a few months after the birth of our first child. I am glad I sought treatment, because I was greatly at risk for ending my life. Because I sought help, I have been able to watch our amazing baby grow into an even more amazing four year old kiddo. We even gave her a sibling a couple of years ago! I really am thankful to be doing well.

Quotes about positive thinking

Before I get into all the benefits that positive thinking can offer, I wanted to share some quotes that I hope will inspire you.

“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”
― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

“You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.”
― Stephen Richards, Think Your way to Success: Let Your Dreams Run Free

“Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

“Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

The benefits of positive thinking

Are you a “the glass is half full” or a “the glass is half empty” kind of person? Did you know there are a lot of emotional and physical benefits when you try to live a more positive lifestyle?

  • It is proven that people who think more positively are less stressed. We are in an age of burn out. It is becoming more and more common for people to be treated by a therapist or psychiatrist because they are experiencing burn out in their professional or personal lives. This is why it is so vital for our mental health to make sure we are minimizing stress.
  • It has been shown to help your immune system. Leading up to the winter months, we need to be protecting ourselves, especially if we spend a lot of time with babies/small children and the elderly. This is something that I learned recently, that positivity can improve your immune system. What an awesome benefit!
  • Thinking more positively is good for your physical health. There have been studies in recent years that suggest that doing this can improve things like cardiovascular health and can help you live longer! If that’s not an enormous endorsement for thinking positively, I don’t know what is.
  • Finally, it toughens you up. Trying to think positively has a snowball effect. The more you do it, the easier it is. Over time you develop a thicker skin and have an easier time adapting to life’s challenges.

Positive affirmations

The best way I can think of to get started thinking more positively is by making it a habit to do positive affirmations every morning. Here is what that simple ritual looks like:

Step 1: Make a list of your most common negative thoughts

  • Nobody loves me
  • I wish I wasn’t so unstable
  • I wish I was thinner
  • My career will never take off
  • I hate my skin

We all have thoughts like this from time to time. Even those with the best of intentions. The point isn’t to completely, one hundred percent, erase all negative thoughts. I don’t even think that’s possible. The point of an exercise like this is to be able to train your brain to at least counteract every negative thought with a positive one.

Step 2: For every thought on the first list, think of a complementary positive thought.

Using the above list again, I am going to turn each statement around into something positive I can say to myself.

  • I am surrounded by love, and the world would not be the same without me.
  • Every day, I work on my emotional health, and I am making progress.
  • I make my health a priority, and nourish my body with healthy foods.
  • I am a good employee, and work with integrity.
  • It’s okay to not look perfect, but I am beautiful the way I am.

Do you see how easy that was? The beauty of positive affirmations is that you don’t even have to believe the positive statements when you get started. You just have to come up with this second list.

Step 3: Tape them to your bathroom mirror, and repeat them to yourself every morning

When you go into the bathroom in the morning to brush your teeth, repeat the affirmations as you brush. If you don’t think you will remember, set a reminder on your phone to go off each morning. Over time it will become a habit.

Remember how I said you don’t have to believe the positive affirmations? It’s true! You just have to say them. After a certain length of time, your brain will begin to accept them as true, and it will feel normal to say them.

If you are struggling to come up with positive sayings of your own, you can try using affirmations cards. These are a must have for anyone looking to get a more positive outlook on life.

I recommend these: Affirmators! Original Deck 50 Affirmation Cards to Help You Help Yourself – Without the Self-Helpy-Ness!

Finding joy in the little things

At the end of the day, it is so beneficial to try to find joy in the little things. In the spirit of that, I decided to come up with as many things as I could think of that currently bring me joy. Enjoy!

  • My husband packed his office today (we are moving soon)
  • My oldest told me I’m her hero
  • I am (mostly) caught up on dishes
  • My energy has been better lately during the day
  • I’ve been drinking more water. Yay!
  • The podcast “Murder Squad.” It’s fantastic.
  • Bingeable crime dramas
  • Grape flavored gum
  • Axio. Seriously. If you haven’t tried it, do so!
  • Anti-depressants. Kidding, but very serious.
  • My kids saying, “I love you.”
  • Curling up with a good book, or episode of “Catfish.”
  • Pretzels. Nature’s drug.
  • Our kids’ coughs are finally better!
  • We are moving into a beautiful new home in about a week!
  • We’re going to Disney World in less than 3 months.

See how easy that was? Anyone can do it. Just make it a daily goal to think positively, and find the joy in the little things. Over time, it will be so easy, that you will wonder why you weren’t doing it all along.

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Hit me with your best positive affirmations in the comments! Don’t have any in mind? Let me help! Let me know what you are struggling with and we can brainstorm.

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92 thoughts on “Positive thinking every day: How you can find joy in the little things”

  1. Great post, I do affirmations too but get distracted whenever I’m stressed out but I’m a master on giving myself a dozen chances by the way I love the quotes you shared Thank you.

    1. Hey Latisha, I love those!! They don’t have to be anything “fancy,” and sometimes the simplest ones are the most effective. Thanks for sharing those 🙂

  2. I used to not believe in the impact of positive thinking- but the more I’ve read about it and learn about how our brain works, the more I’ve realised how much effect positive thinking has on us!

  3. I am usually one to make a list of all the things that could go wrong instead of thinking of everything that could go right. No thinking positive certainly interrupts my day and changes my mood and the mood of others around me. I need to work on saying affirmations each day, not just for my sake but my children’s as well.

    1. Hey Kristen, that has been my main motivation to really give my positive thinking more effort- how my negativity impacts the kids! Take care, and thanks for reading!

  4. Finding joy in little things is much needed trait esp in these times. Keeping the faith is so much challenge with all the things we’re going thru. This kind of posts is worth sharing 💕

  5. Thank you so much for this! It’s been such a stressful year (for all of us, not just me!!) and I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately. It’s taking all of the mental health lessons I’ve learned over the past few years to keep me going. But I do forget to focus on the positives sometimes and it really makes a difference. It’s like putting on a different pair of glasses – not unrealistic, rose-tinted ones, but ones that let you see the see the bigger picture and feel gratitude and hope. Wonderful post! 🙂

    1. Hey Kate, I love the glasses analogy. I think that fits what I’m trying to say perfectly! The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is not to try to pour from an empty cup. Filling up my own cup more has really helped me focus on the positives. Thanks for reading!

  6. Helen's Journey

    Great post Jen. Respect for opening up about your own story – I always feel it gives even more “umft” to your words when people know the journey behind them. I agree, positive affirmations have helped me so much with my mental health too. Gentle hugs, Helen 🙂

    1. Hey Helen, thanks so much! I appreciate you support. It hasn’t always been easy. But I kind of noticed I’m running out of Fs as I get older. Thanks for reading!

  7. I do always try to have positive thinking. It takes less energy that way! If I find myself getting negative, I try to remind myself of what I DO have.

  8. Pam Wattenbarger

    I was just watching a podcast about defeating your inner-naysayer that is always telling you what you can’t do. The positive thoughts were at the top of the list!

  9. This is great information. A lot of people fail to see the power that positive thinking can have on our lives. Starting the day with positive affirmations has helped me to focus and prepare my mind for the day ahead with the best chances of success. Why? There are positives and negatives at every stage of our lives, but this helps me to focus on the things that will bring joy into my life rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the negativity.
    Thank you SO much for sharing your own personal story. I know that’s not easy, but in doing so, I’m sure you’ve been able to reach many who are feeling alone.

    1. Hey Britt thanks so much! I used to feel uncomfortable sharing about myself but now I do it in the hopes it might help even one person. And I agree, there are positives and negatives about everything, so why not embrace the good? Thanks for reading!

  10. These are really good tips for positive thinking . I struggle with ocd so my thoughts can be very negative and last for days …. I will definitely try writing down the good things in life . Very great ideas 🙂

  11. We are our own friend and enemy. I’ve also experienced negative thoughts, and it was a tough time to recover from that situation but somehow I managed to do it through meditation and talking about it a lot to my friends and family!

    Amazing blog!!

  12. This is a great guide! I really love the idea of actively counteracting negative thoughts instead of “just” finding other positive ones. Also getting told that you are your child’s hero must be great. ♥ Thank you for sharing your tips

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