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Warming Thoughts

Posted by Alexandra Van Rijn on

Hello again to the WYL fam this holiday season! I personally LOVE the holidays, but I think we all know that the holiday season can tend to get a little bit stressful. To help manage some of this stress, here are a couple tips on how to adjust your thinking and to insert some positivity into your daily schedule! Now these “thinking changes” definitely aren’t quick easy fixes, because to naturally change the way you think you have to give it some time and dedication – but it will be worth it if you’re willing to try it out! 


All of these techniques I’ve tried for at least a month myself, and have found that although they can be hard to commit to, I’ve seen some progress I’m really thankful for. 


One of the best ways to add some positivity is to focus on appreciation each day. I have found that after committing to do this for a while, I get much more excited about the little things and just seem to appreciate the everyday things more. 

I’ve experimented with a couple different ways to do this, and the best that worked for me was one that forced me to commit to it more. I chose a specific time each day (generally right before I went to sleep, but for others, your lunch break or when you wake up may work better) and looked back on my past 24 hours. From there, I will write down 5-10 (aim for 10) things that I appreciated that day. An important challenge is to do your best to not repeat any of the things between days: look for something unique about each day that you appreciate.


The smallest things can be your source of appreciation – for me, the way the light was hitting this flower that was on the ground was a nice positive thought for me during a tough day. 

To help make sure you commit to this, see if you can rally a couple friends and create a facebook group or chat where each day you are responsible for sharing one thing on that list. This makes you excited to hear about what other people appreciate, but to also recognize the appreciation in your day as well! I am lucky enough to be doing this with my co-rep Mariana, and some other awesome friends.

This can also be extended to talking about something you’re proud of, which can be great to work on for those with self-confidence issues. Finding 3-5 things each day that you are proud of doing can really help you celebrate your little successes and keep moving forward.


As humans, we are the only creature that tends to blame ourselves repeatedly for our mistakes. Most other animals, after suffering the consequences, move on and focus on avoiding that mistake again instead. The human equivalent of this is aiming to have a ‘growth mindset’ when facing failure.

Since each person has their own definition of failure, it means that at some point in our lives we’re like going to fail. What makes the big difference is how we aim to mentally handle this (which is definitely easier said than done). 

Being OK with failure is one of the hardest things to do mentally, but one of the best ways is to focus on learning from that and having a growth mindset. Acknowledging that you’re still growing and learning – no matter where you are in life – makes failure no longer a dead end: it becomes an opportunity to learn how you can better impact the world around you in the future. 

Here are a couple good TED Talks on growth mindsets:

Eduardo Briceno – The Power of Belief (Mindset and Success)

Carol Dweck – The Power of Believing That You Can Improve


Linking these two previous sections allows us to better change our negative thoughts. For instance, if we find we’re having excessive thoughts doubting our own capabilities, one of the best ways to handle that is by countering it with a positive thought when it comes up. If you’re afraid of starting an essay for school or beating yourself up for something stupid you said, think of something positive as well. No matter how unrelated, challenge yourself to come up with something about yourself you are proud about. 


Trying to counter your negative thoughts can be hard, which is why I found it helpful that instead of countering them with the same point (ie. Not creative vs Creative), by challenging them with a different strength you have. It becomes less Black and White and allows you to be more-ok with having room for improvement in one area. 

This way, instead of focusing on replacing the negative thoughts, it helps your mind find balance. 

It allows you to address your flaws, use a growth mindset to address them and then use a celebration of your past successes (no matter how small) to motivate that growth. 

Of course I’m not saying that you should avoid negative thoughts. But hopefully through these techniques, you can find ways to insert more positivity in your life. Appreciation can be one of the most powerful ways to adjust your thinking, and coupling that with a growth mindset can allow you to better handle the daily negative thoughts you may find yourself having.

If something here struck a chord with you, I challenge you to get together 3-5 friends and try to commit to doing this for one month. For a single month, each day try one of the different thinking adjustments and keep each other in the loop. Having the friend group do it really helped me, and I have the utmost faith that if you really commit to it, some of these changes may help you too.  

Written by Campus Rep, Paul Barber
Edited by Executive Assistant, Addie Van Rijn 





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