I have been recently getting into Norman Vincent Peale’s books, who as you know, is the best selling author of The Power of Positive Thinking. He is the author of numerous books on positive thinking and while I have not dug through all of his books, I wanted to summarize what I have learned so far into easy, actionable strategies for anyone to incorporate into their lives.

Positive thinking has been one of the key factors in my career and life. If you know me, it would be hard to imagine that more than ten years ago, I was an incredibly negative thinker. But it’s true! I thought negatively about my life and about the things that were happening to me.

Okay, so you want to become a more positive thinker – let me share three things that I use in my life to become more positive:

Think positive thoughts

James Altucher, one of my favourite authors and thinkers has a 5 x 5 rule. One of those rules, you probably already know: you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. There’s another rule too that you may not have heard: you are the average of the five thoughts that you think about the most. This means that if you surround yourself with, think, and absorb negative things in your life, you will start to become more negative.

What kind of negative things am I talking about?

  • News
  • Gossip
  • Complainers

It’s not just a matter of avoiding negative news though. You have to fill it with positive thoughts instead. How do I do this in my life?

  • I read books on positive thinking. I would recommend books such as Kiss that frog by Brian Tracy, The little golden book of yes! attitude by Jeffrey Gitomer, or The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.
  • I share and talk about good news with positive ambitious people
  • I think about how lucky I am to be where I am and practice gratitude for the things that I have and the people in my life

If you are not filling your mind with positive thoughts, and I mean constantly, it will get filled with other thoughts, and those thoughts may not be positive.

Change your vocabulary

Once your mind is filled with positive thoughts, your outside behaviour will start to change as well. One thing I learned from Tony Robbins Awaken the Giant is that the words you use can heavily influence how you feel and act about things. For example, Tony experimented with changing the word “angry” with the word “peeved”. Rather than saying “I’m so angry”, he said “I’m so peeved”. The word itself sounds funny and ridiculous. When he used the word “peeved”, it immediately short circuited his behaviour. In fact, it made him laugh instead.

How can you change your vocabulary to become a more positive thinker?

Instead of sayingSay this instead
I’m doing okayI am fantastic
I am being lazyI am taking a break from being productive
I am angryI am feeling peeved
I hate thisI am getting annoyed at this
That tastes disgustingThat tastes different
What’s that awful smell?What is that unpleasant smell?

This requires conscious practice, but the benefits will be great. Changing your vocabulary will help you to change your behaviour.

Surround yourself with positive people

This can be difficult. You may have friends, coworkers and even family members who you have spent a lot of time with. And there may not be any other reason to avoid them. They are pleasant in other ways. So how do you surround yourself with positive people?

  • When people complain about their work, their dating life, or other things, give them some time to express their frustrations, but change the conversation. You can either focus on the positives or if they refuse to see the glass half full, change the topic.
  • If, anytime you hang out with someone, they start talking negatively about anything, learn to spend less time with them in the future.
  • Outnumber the negative people in your life. If you have a friend that is being negative, only hang out with them if you have positive friends there as well. This rule applies to those people too so if negative people are surrounded by positive people, they will start to become more positive.
  • If you have to spend time with negative people, make sure that you are positive yourself. I have gotten into conversations that spiral into negativity. Again, I would rather focus on the positives as much as possible so that people do not see me as someone they can complain, gossip or otherwise share negative topics with.

Are you a positive thinker? How do you stay positive when negative people are around you? How do you become more positive when things around you are negative?