The power of positive thinking: lesson ideas

The power of positive thinking: lesson ideas

There are so many different sources of stress in our life, so it becomes essential to start thinking positively. It helps to deal with unpleasant situations calmly and with a smile on a face. But in order to have positive thinking, we need to realize its power and practice it every day. 

Here are some lesson ideas that will help your students improve speaking and listening skills, learn about positive thinking and use it in their life. The activities will be suitable for Intermediate+ learners.  

Task 1: Lead-in

Option 1: Start the lesson with a series of negative, complaining statements like the following one: “Today I got up on the wrong side of the bed. It all started when I didn’t hear the alarm and overslept. You have no idea what I went through today to be here now. In the morning it was pouring, I got my feet wet on the way to classes. I’m probably going to get sick. Maybe I even caught COVID. The copy machine didn’t work, the computer was working so slowly that I couldn’t print any worksheets or the lesson plan and I barely made it to the lesson on time. It’s such a terrible day”.      

When you finish, ask students to describe how they feel about what they heard. Encourage them to describe your body language, the tone of your voice, the effects of your words on them, and their expectations for today’s lesson. 

Then say: “You see how a way of thinking affects things. Negative thinking can ruin your day. That’s why it’s so important to start thinking positively. Today we will talk about the power of positive thinking and how it can affect everything we do and all of the people around us.”    

Option 2: Show students the video “The Power of Positivity” (Brain Games) by National Geographic. Tell them that “Brian Games” is an engaging TV series that explores cognitive science and sizes up the human brain with an intricate succession of interactive experiments to see how easily the brain can be fooled. Ask them what the main idea of the video is and what they think about it (possible answer: it shows that negative feedback can cause loss of morale and can even prompt talented people/professionals to feel self-disappointed or even leave the company). 

Task 2: Discussion 

Ask students the following questions: 

  • What comes first to your mind when you hear the word “positive”?
  • Are you a positive thinker? 
  • What do you usually worry about? 
  • Can you have negative thinking one day and a positive one the next? Why or why not? What influences that?
  • Can positive thinking help to overcome difficulties and cope with stress? 
  • What is the power of positive thinking? Name a few advantages of positive thinking (possible answers: less stress, better overall physical and emotional health, better coping skills, etc.).

Your students can also take a quiz to find out if they are positive or negative thinkers. 

Task 3: Think, do, be positive

Prepare a few cards with different unpleasant situations or thoughts. Tell students that more often people have a negative response to a stressful situation.

The power of positive thinking: lesson ideas

Show the cards and tell students that they need to give positive feedback to these unpleasant situations. For example, I have never done it before. – It’s an opportunity to learn something new. They can draw two columns. In the first column, they can write the negative responses they currently have to these situations, in the second column they change these negative attitudes into positive ones.    

Task 4: Practice positive thinking 

Ask students how they can start thinking positively. Then watch the video and have them complete the sentences.

  1. Optimists have reason to be _______.
  2. Trying to find something positive in every negative situation will _______ your brain. 
  3. Visualizing yourself as _________ and _________ primes you to make it happen.
  4. Some research indicates happiness is __________. 


  • cheery 
  • train
  • strong, triumphant
  • contagious  

Task 5: Using the strengths

Ask students the following question: 

“What are your strengths?” 

Give them a few minutes to think and then share their ideas with you. Then ask: 

“How can you use your strengths to maintain a positive mindset and to achieve the things you want?”  

After they answer, show the quote by Abraham Lincoln “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” Ask them what they think it means (possible answer: go after your dreams and keep moving towards your goal because that’s the real way to make a powerful decision Have students brainstorm some of their goals). Then, have them think and illustrate how having positive thinking can affect their goals. 

Task 6: Achieving the goals 

Give students a grid with different aspects of life. It can include family, self-image, work/school, etc. Ask students to think about what issues they are having for each category. Instruct them to take these issues and form a question on how to solve them. For example, for the category “work” – “How can I be more confident at work?”. 

Show the following questions. Have students think about them and then write short answers:  

  • How do I feel about this?
  • What will happen if I don’t do anything to change it?
  • What steps do I need to take?
  • How do I have to change my thinking in order to achieve my goal?
  • What will happen once this issue is resolved?

Once they finish writing, discuss their answers.


Discussion after watching: Ask students if they have read or seen “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Tell them that they are going to watch the movie about the young girl who never stopped dreaming of a better future. If they have already seen it, say that this time they must pay attention to new vocabulary. During the watching, they can write down the situation and Anna’s attitude to it. There are a few versions of the movie (1959 and 2009), two TV series, and an animated feature film.  

In the lesson, discuss other events in history when inner courage helped people struggling to survive.   

Writing a journal: Ask students to write about situations that made them feel discouraged during a week. Then have them write a paragraph where they examine the situation from a more positive perspective. Students share their stories in the lesson. 

Positive songs: Send students the song “When we were kings” by Brian McKnight and Diana King. They listen and read the lyrics. In the lesson, students discuss the positive images the song invokes.  

More ideas: 

Activities about positive thinking

Motivational videos: 

TEDx Talks: The Power of Positive Thinking

The Power of Positivity 

The Power Of Positive Energy 

The power of Positive Thinking

Overcome Negative Thoughts

Video set by motivational public speaker Brian Tracy 

The discussion of this topic can help students to start thinking differently and make them achieve everything they want. 

Speaking activities are, obviously, essential for English language speaking classes. A lot of students join classes particularly to develop their communicative competence, become more fluent, versatile, adaptable, and confident communicators in English. However, designing speaking activities might be time-consuming and nerve-wracking for any teacher. We have prepared a memo with superb ready-made speaking tasks that will make your student talking. Download it here.

The power of positive thinking: lesson ideas
Маргарита Аветисян

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