The Impact of Positive Thinking on Expat Life
Research in the last decade has confirmed that people who tend to think positively, in other words see the glass as half full instead of half empty, report being happier more of the time, have fewer illnesses and more successful relationships and work life than their “half empty” counterparts.
So we can extrapolate from this that positive thinking is important to cultivate for all of us. It is even more important however for expats, who don’t always know where they will live and work next, and what the quality of their life may be.
In the absence of the known and familiar, your mind steps in and creates a fabricated world for the future. This is where the importance of positive thinking comes in. Its not a case of thinking makes it so, rather, that if you think of the future as positive, chances are you’ll tend to see the positive in the present when it comes along. And this is what shapes our reality. This tendency to look for the positive has an impact on determining how we perceive life events.
So what can you do to enhance positive thinking? Or to create positive thinking if that’s not your natural inclination? Here are some tips:
Tip # 1: Become aware of a “chicken little, the sky is falling” tendency.
If there is a pending change in your life, you can start by becoming aware of anytime you feel nervous or have anxiety. When you identify that feeling, ask yourself, what was I just thinking that triggered this feeling? If the thought was a negative imagining about the future, see this simply as a thought in your mind, then ask yourself, what is actually true about this as I know it? Many times it will be, “I don’t know” which is a far cry from the sky is falling!
Tip # 2: Be willing to hang out in the unknown.
This is easier said than done, I know. Most of us humans seem to be hard wired to be uncomfortable with the unknown, so much so that we prefer to imagine something negative. This is pretty strange, as the truth is we never know what’s going to happen anyway, so it makes more sense to befriend the unknown than to run from it at any cost. Especially when the cost is negative imaginings about our future, which in turn can shape our future in a negative way.
Tip # 3: Try a simple 10-breath meditation.
When you become aware of anxiety and/or negative thinking, even if it’s after the fact, sit down for a few minutes, preferably alone and try the following exercise:
Breathing naturally, place both hands on your belly, just below your belly button. As you breathe in, feel the belly expand and as you breathe out feel it contract. This is not deep breathing, just your normal breath. Do this a few times, and then add a count to each complete breath. So it’s one, breathe in, the belly expands, out it contracts, two, in, the belly expands, out it contracts, and so on until your reach the count of ten. If you find your mind wandering away in thought, just gently bring it back to your belly, your breath and the count. It’s not about how many times you mind wanders, it’s about how many times you bring it back to the present.
If you can begin to counter negative thinking with the above strategies, positive thinking will naturally start to replace the negative thoughts as another option. And as the research tells us, your life will begin to take on a more positive hue.
If you’d like to read more articles about expat life or learn more about Expat Counseling and Coaching Services, visit www.expatcounselingandcoaching.com.