Thinking yourself better

We human beings do spend an enormous amount of time worrying. It’s a bit like living in a badly insulated house. All of that energy we expend on having negative thoughts about the past, present or future simply heads off into the ether without achieving anything useful.

And guess what? How often do the things in the future that we toss and turn about and lose sleep over never actually happen? And the problems in our past we can’t change, although we can learn from them and move forwards.

Imagine if we were able to convert all that concern, worry and negativity into positive thoughts instead. It would be energising, exciting and liberating.

That is easier said than done of course… There’s nothing worse if you are feeling down when someone says, ‘Come on – cheer up!’. What practical steps can we take to bring more positivity into our lives?

Think about the words you use to describe yourself and what you do to other people. Are they strong, upbeat words? Do you tell other people about what you hope to achieve? Or do you tend to apologise, excuse and put yourself down?

Straightaway you can take a decision to change the language you use about yourself. That doesn’t mean boasting or predicting unachievable goals. It means being aware of your own worth and what you achieve every day. Being a parent and looking after your children, helping a neighbour who lives across the road, finishing a piece of work you need to do – all of those are achievements. The larger goals may seem more difficult, but taking one step towards them is the first stage in achieving them, so try and let other people – and yourself – know what you have done and what you what still like to do, both short-term and long-term.

Some people use vision boards: images of where they want to be. It’s a good idea, although those visions should balance a challenging goal with a realistic expectation. Or why not put inspirational quotes in your home or office to add a lift to the inevitable difficult days.

There are plenty of personal development apps you can download or CDs you can listen to when you are driving to give you a new sense of direction. But here’s one very easy tip: every day, say thank you, and really mean it, to someone else to show your gratitude for what they have done to help you – no matter how small the gesture. Never be shy about being generous in your praise of, and gratitude to, others.

Sébastien Foucan is the creator of freerunning, the urban gymnastic sport of running and jumping across townscapes. In a deprived Parisian suburb he learnt to redefine what obstacles are. Rather than blocking your way, you can see them as platforms to propel you to new heights. Viewing what seem to be insurmountable problems in this may help you too achieve this kind of free thinking.

As soon as you unleash your positive thoughts, thinking of ways to move forwards rather than dwelling on problems, you can find you are sleeping better, you have more energy and you are feeling much better all round.

And above all, don’t bottle up problems. Share them with your friends and family, and you may be amazed at the amount of help and support you discover coming back to lift you up.