How to Create Positive Thinking Habits on and off the Field

The start of a new school year and the fall sports season is a great time to set goals for yourself. You might aim for a specific GPA, work toward scoring a certain number of goals for your soccer team, or you might be focusing on meeting new friends. One goal I’d like you to consider for the upcoming year is to develop a more positive perspective. When comparing athletes with equal talent, those with a positive, optimistic attitude typically outperform those with a negative, pessimistic mindset. Given that our mind is frequently filled with negative thoughts, it can feel incredibly difficult to focus on the positive. Your perspective is a choice and something that you can make a conscious effort to work on in all areas of life.  Consider your thoughts to be habits- it takes a systematic approach to change your habits and the same goes for your thoughts.

Here are some tips for creating positive thinking habits:

  • Pay attention to small positive moments that occur each day. 

    • Our days often follow a routine, and monumental positive moments are few and far between.  Our minds easily pick out small negative occurrences, so we have to train our brain to be on the lookout for positive moments. It can be the tiniest thing, from learning something new at school, to working hard in a drill at practice, to having a good conversation with someone in class, to cheering your teammates on at a game. 

    • It can be beneficial to write down small accomplishments each day in order to deliberately make note of them. 

  • Create positive moments each day.

    • Find time to do something you enjoy.

    • Do something nice for another person.

    • Ask others to tell you something good about their day.

      • Often, conversations can take a negative turn, so it can help to create a more positive feeling among those around you by changing the topic from daily complaints to daily highlights. 

  • Reflect on what you’re grateful for each day. 

    • Gratitude is associated with greater happiness, and taking time each day to consider what you’re grateful for is an incredibly powerful practice that helps you shift to a more positive perspective. 

  • Create a balanced perspective by acknowledging your strengths and building from there. 

    • Make note of what you’re doing well and then identify constructive feedback for yourself. When you notice yourself focusing on negative aspects of your performance, ask yourself, “What’s a more helpful way to think about this? How can I improve in this area?”

  • Treat your positive thoughts as if they’re coming from someone you care about and respect, while creating distance from your negative thoughts, considering them to hold less weight and value.