5 Positive Thinking Exercises To Make Your Day Shine Brighter!

glass half fullThe next time you’re having a bad day, here’s some food for thought: “Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same”. This quote hits the bulls-eye when it comes to positive thinking, and the power our mind has over our mental state.

Our minds are consistently evaluating scenarios, forming opinions and creating perspective, (usually with either a positive, or negative light), and as much as we might like to, it is hard to avoid our negative thoughts when they pop up. It’s human nature, after all: we have a need to know what’s wrong, and how to fix it. The problem is when these negative thoughts overload our mind, the power and consistency of these thoughts can be destructive over our overall well-being, leading to anxiety, depression, or developing insecurities. We can combat the likeliness of our negative thoughts surfacing by first identifying, challenging and replacing these thoughts by using positive thinking exercises to help shift our state of mind to a more positive and productive state.

What Are Positive Thinking Exercises?

Positive thinking exercises are short, fast exercises that you can complete during your the day that can have a strong effect on your mental and emotional state. Just as with physical exercise, they require practice and persistence until you master them and they become an automatic process. It may take a couple of days, or even a week, but once these positive thinking exercises become absorbed into your lifestyle, you’ll see a dramatic effect on your overall mental state, and of course, your happiness!

5 Positive Thinking Exercises

Banish Negative Thoughts

The first, and most effective positive thinking exercise is to recognize and remove negative thoughts when they pop up. If you catch yourself mid-way though a destructive thought, replace this thought with mental images and affirmations that are positive and happy. For example, replace “I’m having the worst day”, with “at least the weather is great today, I love the feel of the sun on my skin!”. You’ll soon feel your spirits lift, and whatever problems you are facing will feel much smaller and insignificant.

Create A Gratitude Diary

Gratitude is immensely powerful; it allows you to appreciate and be thankful for the things, people and experiences in your life. This positive thinking exercise involves writing daily entries in your diary of things that you are thankful for (or check out these mobile apps if you’re want to record things on the go!). Don’t limit yourself to be thankful for only the good things; be thankful for the not so good as well – your difficulties, frustrations, challenges and struggles. After all, they are each a learning exercise for you, and will have a silver lining embedded in them somewhere if you look hard enough. Consider these examples that can turn a negative experience into a positive one:

  • If you’re frustrated about losing your job, be thankful that this is now an exciting new opportunity for you to find a career you will really love.
  • If it’s raining on the weekend you’re planning on having a picnic, be thankful that your garden will get some much-needed water.
  • If you’re upset that you are sick and have to stay in bed, be thankful that this is the perfect opportunity to read that book you’ve been dying to read.

When you can train your mind to think about your life in terms of what is great about it, instead of what is missing from it, you’ll realize that the challenges and difficulties you face can be blessings in disguise!

Collect Smiles

What is more uplifting than thinking about all of the smiles and moments of happiness you’ve experienced with people throughout the day? Purchase a small notebook, and any time someone smiles at you, record it in your book, and review it right before you go to bed. Reflecting back on these happy moments from your day can finish your day on a high, no matter how frustrating and stressful it has been. You’ll soon find yourself doing whatever it takes to make someone else smile, just so you can beat your smile quota from the day before!

Surround Yourself With Positive People

This is more a lifestyle adjustment than a positive thinking exercise, but a valuable one nonetheless. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and if these people are negative, down on life and uninspiring, it’s likely that you will absorb this mental state too. Try to surround yourself with happy people and you’ll soon see their positive thinking, optimism and good attitude rub off on you!

Smile, Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Just as our thoughts can affect our mental state, so can our actions. Smiling even when you feel absolutely miserable is a quick way to send your brain a positive message despite what negative thoughts you have rolling around in your head (the science behind this is here). If you want to take it a step further, consider going out of your way to do something nice for someone else. The positive actions you do will lift your spirits and can snap you out of your negative mindset, and is a great positive thinking exercise that you can practice without too much effort!

[Editor’s Note: To learn more about positive thinking and become a master at it, be sure to check out the ecourse, 30 Days To Positive Thinking.]

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Larissa Kalnins

I’m a traveller, adventurer, and blogger. I embrace positive thinking and well-being, and believe life is a never-ending opportunity to learn, grow, and bring out the best in ourselves. I love making people laugh, appreciating the imperfections in life, and have an irresistible urge to pat dogs when I see them.


  1. says

    Awesome idea for a post.
    This week, I am writing down all of the tasks that I get done during the day. (I am not at work this week and afraid that I will feel like it has been a waste of a week when I go back next week.) It is kind of like the gratitude diary or the collecting of smiles… something to look back on and thing “hey, that was pretty good actually.”
    Here’s hoping it works!
    Anne @ Money Propeller recently posted…Jet Setter Interview – Athena of According to AthenaMy Profile

  2. says

    Hi, Larissa, nice post! I totally agree with you that happiness comes from our own mindset and our own choice. So many miserable people seem to be totally unaware they are unhappy because they simply have not made the conscious DECISION to be happy! It takes some mental effort at first, like following the exercises you outlined, until they train themselves to view life differently. We can all improve our lives by forming habits to improve our happiness levels.
    Deborah recently posted…10 Tips to Teach Kids about VolunteerismMy Profile

    • Don Dulin says

      I agree Deborah. It’s all a choice. You choose how to respond and react to the situations life throws at you.

  3. says

    Gratitude journals, reframing your thoughts, and smiling are powerhouse ways to feel better. I think it is so cool that smiling when we aren’t happy can trick our brains moods. I also find the reframing thoughts to be very helpful when you consciously do it.

    Gratitude journals are a blessing too just as you said. I have knocked out my anger towards a person by learning to be grateful for everything they had done for me and even for the anger I felt towards them because it was teaching me a lesson.

    • Don Dulin says

      It is funny that when we are in a bad mood and we start smiling how our entire outlook and mood changes quickly.

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