4 Ways to Get Into a Positive Mindset for the New Year

Posted: January 05, 2017

With the New Year in sight, you may be starting to think about making resolutions.

Having a sunny outlook can help you make better resolutions and be more successful in achieving them. "When the brain is positive, [it] releases neurochemicals called success accelerants like dopamine and they turn on part of the brain that allow you to perceive more possibilities [and] process more information," says happiness expert Shawn Achor. A pessimistic mindset, by contrast, causes the brain to feel threatened, closing it off to new opportunities.

 

Your brain is three times more creative in a positive state,". While a positive mindset is crucial all year round, it's particularly important towards the end of the year, when we begin to reflect on the past and set our goals for the year ahead.

Before making your 2017 goals, follow these four tips to get into a positive state of mind.

1.     Don't start at zero. When making resolutions, start by listing your accomplishments in the previous year. "The brain accelerates towards goals the closer it perceives success" our brains release chemicals called success accelerants, that give us more energy as we perceive being closer to our goals. Starting your resolution list with a blank sheet of paper means you lose the advantage of these success accelerants.

This strategy can be used on a daily basis throughout the rest of the year. Instead of making a list of all the things you have left to accomplish in the day, start by writing down all the things you've already accomplished and checking those off. When your brain sees the checkmarks, it releases these success accelerants, putting you in a positive mindset and allowing you to speed towards achieving the rest of the goals on the list.

2. Start your day with a positive email.

To start your day in a positive mindset, write a positive email to a friend, co-worker, client or even a stranger. By sending these positive emails, your brain is starting the day not with a threat (a negative email), but with a social connection.

3. Use positive language in goal-setting. While many of us make resolutions to stop a negative behavior such as smoking or eating junk food,  we should instead focus on positive habits to replace the negative one you want to break. Rather than making a resolution to avoid the office vending machine, resolve to bring healthy snacks to work and plan ahead attending to fitness classes every day. By changing the language of your resolution from a negative to a positive, your brain doesn’t waste its resources dwelling on the negative habit you’re trying to avoid but instead uses its energy towards the new positive habit.

4. Focus on positive habits. Incorporate positive habits into your daily routine and experience the benefits of an optimistic outlook. Some positive habits includes writing down three things you’re grateful for every day, meditating by paying attention to the movement of your breath, or journaling about a positive experience.

You might wonder what all this have to do with martial arts. In reality martial arts allows you to focus your mind more powerfully than you have ever done before. It is a learned skill, so you’ll get better the more classes you attend. Over time you will notice you start to feel more positive about what you’re doing. Martial arts, after all, is a powerful and practical class to attend. You’ll learn plenty about yourself and your mental and physical health and wellbeing will both improve.