Think Positive – More than a Saying

When looking at our lives many of us tend to notice the things we do not like. Noticing is a good starting point. But how do we get to where we wanna be?

Being passionate about physical and overall well-being for most of my life I’ve read many many books, magazines, articles and other sources that are dedicated to that topic. There’s one recurring theme in many sources that is easily summarized as “Think positive!”. Now, we’ve all heard that one before… At least for me hearing this saying didn’t make a difference for me at all. Lately, I’ve become more aware of this thought and it seems like there’s also more and more research being done in connection with positive thinking and the power of the mind – for professional athletes as well as people like you and me.

What does “think positive” mean to you? It always seemed like an abstract concept to me and therefore had no practical use in my life. For me the question remained: How can *I*, as a relatively normal human being, benefit from positive thinking? Here are a few of my personal thoughts and ideas in relation to body, fitness and vitality.

  • Notice your thoughts! If you’re thinking about something you’re not happy with, be aware of it. It might sound strange but this is a great starting point. Note it and immediately ask yourself what it is you do want.
    Example 1: Thought: “I don’t like my thighs/butt/arms/…”. Write that down and right underneath jot down what it is that you want. “I want my thighs to be strong and lean” or “I want my arms to look toned when I’m going on summer vacation”.
    Example 2: Thought: “I’m so annoyed I gained so much weight. Again!” Want: “Wouldn’t it be nice if my body looked lean and sexy?”
  • Imagine! Once you’re clear about what it is that you want you can start imagining. There are many ways for us to do so. You can use your head only and imagine yourself in a good-feeling situation. Or, if you’re having trouble visualizing yourself with a body you like or running the half marathon you’ve always wanted to run in, start simple: Look at pictures that make you feel good. Maybe there’s that dress you love or a picture of a beautiful beach, anything works. Just make sure it feels good!
  • Relax! After practicing awareness of my thoughts for some time I can say for sure that my brain works in funny ways. ;) When confronted with a “problem” or something I don’t like, I usually have the best solution ideas right before falling asleep or when I’m doing something completely unrelated – and definitely not while thinking extra-hard about how to solve that ‘annoying problem’. What helps me: Looking at a beautiful picture, day-dreaming, taking a walk, meditating, reading a good book, listening to music, painting or any kind of activity or distraction that feels good.
  • Notice your thoughts – again! Maybe a new or old thought suddenly occurs to you. Notice it and write it down! Do not judge yourself for having seemingly unrelated (or “stupid”) ideas. Example: You’re still not happy with your body. You wrote down “I don’t like my big thighs and floppy arms”, and underneath you wrote “I want to look toned and fabulous on the beach in summer”. You know you’re in a negative place, so you’re taking a walk, let’s say in the park. You’re just strolling down the path and suddenly you see a couple of policemen on horses and you think “Wow, I haven’t been on a horseback since I was ten, it was so much fun”. Write that thought down! Do the same with all other random thoughts that come up.
  • Action! If a thought crosses your mind that feels great to you go for it! This could happen right away or maybe you’re looking through all your notes of the past weeks, and you’re suddenly getting an idea. You might try out a horseback riding lesson. Or you get present to your love for animals and start walking your neighbor’s dog. Or you meet someone who’s telling you about a fun fitness class or a soccer team who is desperately looking for members. If it feels good, go for it! Right away! (Try it before you can talk yourself out of it – you know what I mean…)
  • Notebook! A great way to be aware of your thoughts is to be writing them down. Pick out a nice notebook, attach a pen and carry it with you. Make it a rule to focus on good things when writing into the book. I have a tiny little book I’m carrying around with me all the time to jot down random thoughts, ideas, contact info, etc. Sometimes I tape in pictures I like or that inspire me. (A book like this also comes in handy in moments I wish I had a pen and paper… ) Other options: Use your phone, voice recorder or laptop to collect thoughts; or call your own voice mail and write it down later.

Have fun!

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Photography by Mary Sylvester.