Positive thinking, quite simply, is belief in oneself. Just like physical skill development in martial arts, positivity takes training and practice. It is a purposely created habit.

A wonderful place to develop and get the ball rolling on both fronts is in a martial arts class. After training for a time at a good school and under a good instructor, this will become evident. Training in a class where positive results are not just expected, but demanded, challenges people to go beyond what their perceived limits are. The physical difficulties may bring out certain negative feelings and emotions. Often beginner students will be saying, “I can’t!” and may not be able to envision ever performing or completing the task. Within a few weeks of positive reinforcement and effort, this begins to change. Barriers begin to crumble and a new light shines from within. Small progresses ignite a fire that, with fuel, turns into a raging inferno. Students begin to realise that although there may be tough times, if there is a goal, direction and belief in oneself, the pain and hardships just become an exciting part of the journey. It becomes fun to knock down walls that seem impossible to climb. You even begin to seek them out.

Being positive and having drive doesn’t mean being a Mr. happy, go-lucky with everything going your way. It doesn’t mean you never have a tough time. It is about how you deal with and overcome the tough times. It is about how you behave during the tough times. If you are constantly putting yourself down and can never see a way out, you need to rewire your brain to go to a positive place rather than a negative when things don’t go your way. Sad things may happen and times may be tough but that is no excuse to allow your mind to sink into a dark place and give up. Always see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep focus on that.

We can be crueler to ourselves than even our worst enemies. Cut out all negative self-talk. Positively reinforce everything you do, even the things that you have not yet mastered. Replace, “I can’t!” with, “I can!”. Replace, “I’m a failure!” with, “I’m a success!”. Replace, “I %@#@& that up!” with, “I’ll get it next time!”. Replace, “I’m no good at it!” with, “I will be good at it!”.

Choose the people you surround yourself with very carefully. The people you invite into your life can have great influence and this often reflects in your positive or negative outlook. Don’t allow other’s negative outlooks to reflect onto you. Those are small minds. Leave those people behind. You don’t need them. Think big. Hang around with like-minded people – people that are on a positive trajectory – this includes your martial arts school community.

Being positive means moving towards something that you want. It is having direction and drive. It is about gathering and building momentum towards realising your dreams. Training in martial arts will help to get you to the place you want to be – the habits created in the martial arts class spill over into life. All you need to do is apply the same principles.