Imagine: You pull an all-nighter to cram for a test and finish feeling miserable. A few days later, you get the test back and your grade does not reflect the effort that you exerted. You’re bummed. You turn to your friend hoping to gripe about the class, and he/she says two words: “Be positive.”

If you often find yourself thinking negatively, becoming a positive thinker could transform your life. You can be positive without smiling constantly and being happy all of the time. Positive thinking is a way of life and a choice that you have to commit to maintaining. Sure, it’s easy to be positive when life is smooth and straightforward, but how will you react when life throws curveballs, challenges or even tragedies you way? This is when positive thinking is truly tested.

Research published by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn , indicated that positive thinking leads to many health benefits. Some health benefits include: lower rates of depression; lower levels of distress; greater resistance to the common cold; better psychological and physical well-being; better coping skills during hardships; and a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Although it is unclear why positive thinkers receive these health benefits, scientists suggest that having a positive outlook allows people to cope better with stressful situations and therefore reduces the harmful effects of stress on the body.

Below are some helpful tips to help you become a positive thinker:

  1. Become a realistic. In order to be a positive thinker, you really need to be able to acknowledge both sides—positive and negative. However, positive thinkers focus their time and energy on creating positive outcomes. Dean of the College of Behavioral Sciences at Argosy University, Joffrey Suprina, told the Huffington Post that many people perceive positive thinkers as people who see the world through rose-colored glasses. This is not true. Positive thinkers do not ignore reality—that can cause more harm than good—they just choose to focus on positive outcomes.
  1. Be aware.  According to Suprina, most negative thoughts are not conscious—in fact, we are not even aware that they are happening. Positive thinkers are aware of negative thoughts, catch them, and avoid plummeting into a hole of negativity. This trait can be hard to develop, especially if you have been a negative thinker for a long time. Suprina suggests practicing mindfulness, so you can recognize the thoughts going on within your mind and be able to address them. The important distinction to make is that negative thoughts are just thoughts; they’re not facts.
  1. Believe in yourself. You need to have a positive view of yourself before you can be a positive thinker. You have to believe that you have something to offer and that you can push through difficulties. Going into a test thinking that you’re going to fail will lead to that outcome. Four words: You can do it!
  1. Surround yourself with positive people. If you constantly find yourself in toxic situations, this may explain your negative thoughts. Surround yourself with people who encourage you, believe in you and make you happy. Positive thinking is contagious.

So if you find yourself cramming for tests and feeling miserable, make the change: Become a positive thinker!

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