When the Navy implemented positive self-talk strategies for SEALs, the BUD/S passing rate increased by 10%. The link between success and attitude is undeniable, but the dilemma is how to shift from negative to positive thinking.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not cut out for this,” or, “I don’t have what it takes?” We produce 50,000 thoughts a day, and about 70-80% are negative. What’s mind-blowing about this is that means that most of us think over one million negative thoughts every year.
Positive reinforcement helps to override the fear created from the amygdala part of the brain — and if positive thinking can help the SEALs, it can help you. When a thought such as, “I can’t do this,” crosses your mind, instead try saying, “I can’t do this yet. But I can if I practice.”
English heart surgeon Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”
Often we are our worst critic — but the flipside can also be true: We can be our biggest fan and the greatest believer in ourselves, because there may come a time that demands it.
Here are three ways we can develop a positive attitude and think like a SEAL:
1. Be intentionally Positive
If you eat unhealthy food, it will show. The same goes for your mind — if you feed it bad food, it will be revealed in how you think and what you say.
At my home office I have a list of inspirational quotes posted to my desk that help me to get in the right mindset, along with letters from my closest friends and a motivational essay. Feed yourself a daily diet of something that motivates or encourages you. Do you have a list of positive things of others have said about you? Or better yet, do you have a list of positive things about yourself?
One thing that will help is to list 20, 30, or even 50 positive things about yourself, which can range from your biggest accomplishments to your most positive character traits. As a matter of fact, before you read further, take a second to write down at least 10 things you like about yourself. Choose quotes that inspire you more than anything else and post them in your office area. You will be surprised at how quickly you can make positive-thinking the go-to for your brain by doing this.
2. Find The Good In Every Circumstance
A boy was convinced he was the greatest hitter of all time. The first ball was pitched to him, and he missed. “No big deal, I’m the greatest hitter of them all,” he said. The next came, and he missed. “I won’t even need this next pitch, after all, I’m the greatest hitter there is.” The next came, and he spun around only to see the ball lying behind him. “Steeeee-rike three! I’m out!” he said. His mother looked at him. “Aren’t you disappointed you struck out?”
“No way!” the boy replied. “I’ve just discovered I’m the greatest pitcher of all time.”
That’s the kind of perspective and confidence we need in ourselves — the ability to find the good in everything.
You’ve probably met people like that young boy. Martin Berkofsky was just like him; he was a 75-year old concert pianist with cancer, and one of my greatest mentors and closest friends. Though he underwent chemotherapy which weakened him, he never complained. As a matter of fact, he had the most positive attitude out of anyone that I’ve ever met in my life, and it was because of the “food” he fed his mind and the good he did for others.
After a motorcycle accident in 1982 which was so severe that doctors said he’d never perform again, he defied the diagnosis and founded The Cristofori Foundation, and for his 60th birthday ran 880 miles to raise over $80,000 for cancer research, hosting benefit concerts along the way. He gave another concert with his students to raise $3,500 for a four-year old boy which burned his face in a house fire and needed reconstructive surgery.
We can learn a lot from both the young boy and Mr. Berkofsky — there is always good in everything. We just need to allow ourselves to see it.
3. Do Good For Others
One of the greatest ways we can be positive is to do good for others. Benjamin Franklin said, “When you’re good to others, you’re best to yourself.” Invest in others, and watch as the return on your investment multiplies.
“Invest in others, and watch as the return on your investment multiplies.”
When you make others feel valuable, you will feel more valuable. But to make others feel valuable, you must value yourself. Brian Tracy said, “There is a direct relationship between your own level of self-esteem and and the health of your personality. The more you like and respect yourself, the more you like and respect other people. The more you consider yourself to be a valuable and worthwhile person, the more you consider others to be valuable and worthwhile as well. The more you accept yourself just as you are, the more you accept others just as they are.”
When you start to do good for others, you will start living a more significant life and having a better attitude. Zig Ziglar said, “When you choose to be pleasant and positive in the way you treat others, you have also chosen, in most cases, how you are going to be treated by others.”
4. Understand That Attitude Is A Choice
Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Isn’t that powerful? Your attitude impacts other people in your life every day. Reflect on whether your attitude is a positive one or if you need to work on it, and remember: While positive thinking won’t get you everywhere, it will make the ride smoother and get you anywhere further than negative thinking will. What do you do to be positive? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.