4 Tips to Stop Negative Thinking and Live a Happier Life

Written by Scott Orth

If you’re interested in controlling negativity and living a more positive and productive life, start by reading my Positive thought post .

Since writing that post I’ve had many conversations with people who ask how to stop negative thinking so that positive thoughts can become more of the norm.

It’s a great question because so many positive people tend to just “be positive” by nature. I’ve been one of those people for most of my life.  So when I’d talk to negative people, I might just tell them “you need to think more positively.”  But if you tend to be more negative by nature, this isn’t so easy.

The problem is, negative thinking has a number of consequences, like:

  • You often times feel less confident, which can affect your ability to succeed
  • Interactions with people are less enjoyable, which may lead you to being less social
  • You may have less energy, which can cause ripple effects like weight gain and poor overall health
  • You might feel less happiness in general, which can be like a dark cloud hanging over your entire life
  • You can actually increase negative health issue due to stress and anxiety… often times perpetuated by negative thought.

Well… that’s a lot of positivity right there, huh?

I actually have a harder time writing about negative effects of things… because I take a positive slant on life. But I felt it was important for this post to really focus on the effects of being negative, so that we can turn it around and start to see the good things in life.

After all, we only have a short time in this life. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time healthy, successful, and feeling fulfilled?  So let’s learn a few steps to control those negative thoughts, which might just lead you to greater happiness in all aspects of your life.

Visualize positive outcomes
Thinking negatively can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you just ‘know’ you’re going to lose a race… chances are you WILL lose the race.

Maybe you would have lost the race anyway; that’s just life – and not everyone can win every time. But someone who focuses on the win, and pushes themselves through the entire race, no matter what the outcome, will have a greater chance of winning – even if that win just means they beat their own personal record.

If you look at winners of a race (or any sport), when is the last time you heard that winner say “you know, I just knew I was going to lose. From the very beginning I knew I had no chance.”? Yeah – I’ve never heard that either.

Lets spin it around… Positive visualization can be life changing! Jack Canfield lists 4 great benefits of visualizing positive aspects of your life:

  1. It activates your creative subconscious
  2. It programs your brain to be positive
  3. It activates the law of attraction
  4. It builds your internal motivation

One great way to start is to write down what you want to happen today, tomorrow, next month, or 5 years from now. No, this doesn’t mean write down that you want to win the lottery.  You have no control over that.  Write down your goals, what you want to achieve.

When its written down, start every single day by looking at that list and writing additional ideas or mini-goals that you can achieve now (or soon) to keep you on track toward your achievements.

By writing it down, and engaging with these thoughts every day, you start to program your mind to keep moving you toward these achievements.

Stop Expecting the Worst
“If I expect the worst outcome, then I won’t be disappointed when it happens.” I hear this a lot! It’s sort of a personal protection method to save you from too much hurt or disappointment.  But here’s the problem… through negative visualization, when you say this you are essentially creating the disappointment before it has chance to happen (or not happen).

And even if you don’t “create” the negative outcome due to negative visualization, you can still end up generating unnecessary worry and stress. If you’ve got a doctor’s appointment in a week, and you expect bad news, just to “protect” yourself when the day comes… you spend that entire week building worry, stress, and anxiety.  You might not sleep well, you’re patience is thin – possibly snapping at your family or co-workers, and you’re not fun to be around because the dark shadow hanging over you spreads like a disease.  Then you go see your doctor and you have a clean bill of health.

Not only was that entire week of your life wasted, it could have actually done some damage to your health as well. Check out these 10 health problems that WebMD says your stress could be causing you.

Instead, think of a positive outcome. Even if your mind turns to the negative; think of the opposite outcome.  If you’re up for a job promotion, but you’re sure Nancy is going to get it… also let your mind go into a bit of a daydream about if you got it.  How would that make things better for you?

If you’ve got a doctor’s appointment coming up and your mind wonders ‘what if the doctor says I have an incurable problem’… combat that with the thought of ‘what if the doctor says I’m perfectly fine – but I should start going on a walk a few times a week’.

It takes practice; but every time you have a negative thought, make it a goal that now you must think of a positive thought as well. Never let a negative thought stand on its own without a positive thought to subconsciously combat it.

Let little Negatives Go and Positivity Will Win
Negative thinking acts like a wall, blocking you from seeing the positive in all situations. If you have a setback, look for the positives.  In nearly every situation, one closed door opens up other doors. But don’t expect these new opportunities to always be obvious.

When I got laid off from an executive job years back, I was nearly in tears. How was I going to support our single-income family of six without a job?  How long would it take for me to get back into the workplace, and by that time how many things in my life will have fallen apart for lack of being able to pay my bills?

As I walked out of the office, the stress and anxiety had a hold of me. I couldn’t breathe very well.  As I started to drive away I was horribly distracted and nearly ran off the road twice.  I finally pulled over into a McDonalds parking lot to think it through.

About 15 minutes later I had a plan, and I was back on the road – this time distracted by an incredible level of excitement! I devised a comical social media story about moving my family under a bridge… including little things like a daily log of hunting excursions with the kids to find rats for dinner, and other little adventures. The goal was to get some exposure and try to start my own consulting business through some creative story telling.  At the same time I would apply for every job available – and between the two efforts I would get back on my feet.

It worked.

I was back on my feet within a couple of weeks beginning to build a thriving marketing and consulting business, which I later rebranded to Thrive Business Marketing to encapsulate that ability for all of us to truly THRIVE.

I could have let the stress and anxiety win over that day. Had that happened, I’d hate to think what the months that followed would have been like.  When you let that dark cloud engulf you, it’s sometimes very difficult to get back out.  Don’t let it get that far.  Put the positive energy in your brain to work immediately so you can derail those negative thoughts.  Find the positive. The silver lining. The new potential opportunities opened by an otherwise negative situation. Do not let negativity win. You have control over your mind.  Put it to good use!

Let Your Mind Be Free – Lose the strict rules.
Do you put yourself into narrow rules of life?

“That lady shouldn’t speak that way.”

“If I can’t do this, then I must be stupid!”

“My doctor hasn’t called me, so it must be bad news”

“No my son can’t have a sleepover tonight. We need about 2-week’s notice for sleepovers” (my good friend actually said this to me when we first met through our sons. Now he is healed).  🙂

Who made these rules? And who is mandating they be followed?  YOU!  Loosen up. Live a little. You might find that when you open your mind and loosen the rules, positive things start to happen.

The same goes for how you view other people. They didn’t have the same upbringing you did. Their parents were different. Their school was probably different. Don’t expect everyone to think or behave just like you.  Our minds can be very similar – but also very different.  If you open yourself to the wonders of all the different varieties of people and thoughts, instead of expecting everyone to fit into your mold, you may find a lot more peace and happiness in your world.


Stopping negative thought takes time and practice. But the sooner you start practicing, the sooner you’ll find more happiness in live.

You may also find that this newfound happiness acts like a ripple in a calm lake. The more positivity you feel and show, the more other positive people will connect to you.  The more positive people you find yourself around, the more you’ll find that good things happen in your life.

Don’t waste another minute on negativity. Give these tips a shot and see if they improve your outlook on life!

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