How can someone change their mindset to be more positive? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Nela Canovic, growth mindset hacker, writer, and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, on Quora:

There are so many reasons for not having a positive mindset. We fail at something, we don't achieve what we set out to do, we don't get what we expected we would, we experience a loss, we get exhausted from our work or school responsibilities. And then our inner critic takes over. We start telling ourselves, why did you think you were better? You can't even do one simple thing right. You're incapable! You shouldn't expect things to go right for you. You don't deserve success!

Sound familiar?

That inner critic is the one you need to watch out for. Why? Because it forces you to filter reality through a negative lens so you don't see any possibilities, any options for making a change, any light at the end of the tunnel.

How do you harness that inner critic and start seeing your life as one of abundance instead of a life of limitations?

Try beginning your day with this 5-minute habit that will restructure your brain and help you build a positive mindset.

Start every morning by saying, "thank you."

In other words, incorporate a few minutes of gratitude into your day.

Why is this so important to creating a positive mindset?

When you live your life on auto-pilot, without really considering what you have going for you, you lack awareness. There's so much you do have, and it's not just things; you also have experiences, family and friends, memories, pockets of happy moments, laughter your shared with someone, your personal strengths, your skills and talents, and you most likely also have a reasonable amount of knowledge about the world and how it works.

In reality, you don't focus on any of that. What do you focus on instead? On everything else around you--other people, other people's things, other people's accomplishments, other people's relationships, problems, obstacles standing in your way, impossibilities. The list goes on and on. That's a dangerous path to take because it can easily set you up for anxiety, overwhelm, unhappiness, and a feeling of failure.

How does saying "thank you" increase the quality of your life?

  • It rewires your brain to think about positive things. You start thinking about things that you do have going for you, instead of obsessing about the things you do not have and that can leave you feeling frustrated and unhappy.
  • It helps you to see life as plentiful instead of empty. This is very, very important because it's a shift in your mindset. It's a switch to leading a life full of abundance instead of a life of scarcity.
  • It creates a positive tone to your day. Think of it as a personal soundtrack to your life, which can impact your attitude not just for that particular day, but for your entire life moving forward.

How do you start practicing a habit of gratitude?

  • Start early. When you start your day with gratitude, you will feel the effects throughout the day. Take a few minutes when you wake up and before you start getting ready for work or school. Give yourself some quiet time to focus on what you want to say. You might want to close your eyes while you think about it, or maybe you'll want to write your thoughts down and then say them out loud.
  • Start small. Focus only on 3 things you are grateful for today. It can be the simplest of things: having a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, a job that pays the bills, a friend or a partner who you trust, food in your fridge, a dog or cat that you have as your pet, an education that will empower you to take charge of your life and become independent. You can also think about a recent pleasant experience, such as spending time with a friend or enjoying a beautiful walk in nature.
  • Be specific. If it's that one person you're grateful for having in your life, emphasize which of their qualities you are grateful for (they're warm, gracious, smart, funny, creative, honest, etc.). If it's having your own room or apartment, point out why this is important to you (you can have quiet time in the evening to relax, read, or work undisturbed). If it's being part of a community or circle of friends, emphasize how being around them makes you feel and think of a recent evening you spent together.

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