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This is the first entry in the ongoing 52-Week Prosperity Plan. Each week has its own different concept for readers to concentrate on, in an attempt to open one’s mind to new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. For more information on the 52-Week Prosperity Plan, including tips on how to stay focused, read the introduction to the plan.

Okay, okay, I know this is probably the most cliché piece of advice anyone could possibly give, but for the next 5 minutes or so pretend like you’ve never heard of this new-fangled concept of “being positive.” Just humor me.

Now that you’ve done that, think of being positive as a simple choice, like choosing to scratch your arm or take a breath. Doesn’t seem like it should be that easy, right? Well, in all actuality it really is, but it doesn’t seem that way because we keep ourselves from making it that easy.

How do we prevent a positive attitude?

Throughout our day, we think ourselves into a negative mindset. It’s as simple as that. Don’t believe me? Try this throughout the week; simply pay attention to any negative thought that crosses your mind. Any negative thought at all, be it big or small, and every time you catch yourself doing this, ask yourself what prompted it, whether or not it’s reasonable, and pay attention to how your mood and outlook automatically dip down into the gutter, at least for a few moments or so.

At first you won’t catch a lot of your negative thoughts (probably because you’re so used to them), but then you’ll notice one or two specific ones… and then a couple more… and then, once you know what to look for, you’ll notice many, many more, some of which recur quite often.

Once you can pick these thoughts out, pay attention to which ones cross your mind more than others. Pick the most frequent negative thought, and come up with a positive counter-thought to replace it with every time it crops up.

Yeah I know, it sounds kind of hoaxy, but trust me, by simply paying attention to your thoughts throughout the day, you’ll learn a lot about what’s going on up there in that grey matter of yours, whether it’s good or bad.  It’s kind of like controlling your own programming.

Tips to stay focused on the week’s concept:

1.       Write the week’s concept down on a post-it or a scrap piece of paper and post it somewhere you will see it on a daily basis, such as your fridge, the bathroom mirror, or even the dashboard of your car (people who ride with you think it’s weird, but it works!). The point is to be reminded of the theme often throughout the day.

2.       Each night before bed, brainstorm two or three ways to apply the week’s theme, and jot them down in a notebook, in your planner, or E-Mail them to your office E-mail address. Then, actually apply them the next day.

3.       In the morning before your day begins, take a moment to think about the weekly concept and how you will apply it throughout your day.

4.       Every night, reflect on how you actually implemented the weekly concept and how it has positively changed your way of thinking or behavior.

5.       During lunch or sometime half-way through your day, take a moment to sit in a quiet place and re-commit, reminding yourself to view the rest of the day through the lens of the concept of the week.