01.07.2015 Personal Growth

7 Ways to Eliminate Negative Thoughts

Best selling author Andrew Matthews tells how to eliminate negativity for success and happiness

Does this ever happen? You have one slightly negative thought, "I'm short of cash this week".

This leads to another negative thought … "It's because I'm underpaid at work"… and another … "and I'm under appreciated at home" … followed by … "Tonight I'll have to cook dinner, why can't my stupid husband get off his backside. My mother always told me I was making a big mistake and now I've got a headache, maybe it's a tumour!"

Negative thoughts are like rats. One shows up and before you know it they have taken over. You can beat negative thoughts. Here's how:

1. When things go wrong ask yourself. "WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT THIS?"

There is an upside to every situation.

EXAMPLE: You are drowning in debt. You say, "What can possibly be good about being broke?"

you develop character and determinationyou learn how to budgetyou discover who your friends are.

EXAMPLE: You break your leg. You ask, "What's good about this?"

you get to restyou learn to empathise with sick peopleyou get to read some great books.

EXAMPLE: You spend your workdays serving rude customers. You ask, "What's good about handling rude people?"

you learn toleranceyou develop skills that will help you in your next jobthe rude people at work help you to appreciate your husband.

Now you might say, "Let's be realistic. Some disasters have no upside!" Here's Realistic:

Lousy things happen.Happy people have the habit of saying, "What's good about this?" It's how you stop negative thoughts in their tracks.

One negative thought attracts another. One positive thought attracts another. When things go wrong, find an upside.

2. When You Are Sad or Grieving: GET INTO NATURE

When life hurts, nature heals. Ocean breezes and peaceful forests restore us in ways that stinky pubs and shopping malls and bad TV never can. Walk on the beach or in the bush, sit in a park or a garden. Go fishing. You'll think better thoughts. There's nothing to figure out, it just happens.

Get into nature. Make it a habit.

3. When you feel like complaining: DON'T!

Stop moaning about the weather, the government and your arthritis. We talk about what we think about. That is obvious. The reverse is also true. Wethink about what we talk about.

The more you complain, the more you fill your head with unhappy thoughts.

If you want to talk about fixing a problem, wonderful! But mindless complaining sabotages your happiness - and no one cares that you didn't sleep last night and no one wants to hear about your haemorrhoid operation.

4. When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed: GET RID OF THE JUNK

You suffer stress when you are surrounded by junk - psychological tests prove it.

Did you ever get into a friend's car among pizza cartons, hamburger wrappings and half-eaten apples? It's hard to think happy thoughts!

You feel more in control in a tidy office. You feel more peaceful in a clean house. It's one reason why we love to stay in nice hotels - it is such a joy to check into a clean room and not be surrounded by piles of old clothes and handbags and last week's newspapers.

Are you too stressed to tidy your whole bedroom? Tidy one drawer today and another tomorrow. Need to organise your office? Do just one shelf today. You'll feel better.

Get some garbage bags. Buy a broom! Better to live in a one-room studio that is clean than in a mansion that is a mess!

5. When Negative People Are Driving You Nuts: GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!

Are you surrounded by people who whinge about the weather, the government, the price of petrol and their bunions? Whingers will drag you down! Soon enough, you start to think like they think. You start to gripe like they gripe. Negative becomes normal.

What can you do? Spend time with happy people, somehow. If you have only one happy friend, visit him more often. If you don't know any motivated people, find some. Join a cycling group, a dance class, a church group, a laughing yoga group, a charity.

Mary says, "My husband, Fred, is so negative! How do I make him happy?" You can't, Mary, and it's not your job.

Some people aren't ready to be happy. The best way to help miserable people is by being a happy example. Have compassion for those who are sad or tortured, but if your partner, mother, boyfriend, colleague or neighbour is dragging you down, you need some space!

Get regular breaks from negative people. And in the long term? You might want to change where you live or work!

6. When You Lack Confidence: PICTURE YOUR SUCCESS

You are about to make a speech in front of two hundred people. You tell yourself, "Don't be nervous! Don't forget your lines! Don't embarrass yourself!"

Then you get onstage and what happens? You screw it up! You even forget your wife's name! All those negative thoughts sabotaged your presentation.

Is it that you are a bad speaker? No! The problem is your mental preparation.

What do high achievers do? What is the secret of people like Richard Branson, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt or Hugh Jackman? They visualise their own success. They play movies in their minds.

You can do it too. Before your speech you picture yourself onstage, relaxed and smiling. You imagine the words rolling off your tongue and the audience nodding in approval. You see yourself leaving the stage feeling proud and happy.

Each time you play your little success movie, you will feel a bit more confident. As your confidence grows, your negative thoughts evaporate.

You can you use this mental movie technique for anything - to be more confident at dinner parties, to hit better golf balls, to sell more real estate. When you are lying in bed or riding the bus, anytime you have a spare moment, play your mental movie.

Why do you think children have such vivid imaginations? And why do kids learn new skills so fast? Because they do all this automatically. Imagination imprints your brain cells. If you can imagine your success with lots of excitement - which is what children do - it is even more powerful.

If you struggle to see pictures in your mind, just feel your success. That's enough.

Positive thinking works because positive thinkers have the habit of picturing what they want. What you see is what you get.


Any exercise makes you happier. You don't have to run. Walk, bounce, swim, dance, row. Movement produces happy chemicals in your brain. You know this already.

Fred says, "I'll exercise when I feel better." No Fred! Exercise is how you feel better.

Andrew Matthews is an internationally renowned speaker and best-selling author of Follow Your Heart and Happiness in Hard Times, which have sold over seven million copies in 42 languages. His newest offering, How Life Works (Seashell Publishers $24.95), is now available at all good book stores and online at www.andrewmatthews.com

Andrew Matthews

Andrew Matthews is an internationally renowned speaker and best-selling author of Follow Your Heart and Happiness in Hard Times, which have sold over seven million copies in 42 languages. His newest offering, is How Life Works (Seashell Publishers $24.95) available at www.andrewmatthews.com