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Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be happier, healthier, and more successful than others? Do they have a secret formula or a magic trick that you are unaware of?
Well, the truth is that they most likely do not. What they do have is a positive attitude and positive way of thinking that helps them overcome challenges, achieve their goals, and enjoy life more.
Positive thinking is more than a buzzword or a fad. It is a powerful tool that you can use to change your life for the better. In this blog post, I will share with you some of the benefits of positive thinking and how you may use it every day to live your best life.
What is positive thinking?
Positive thinking means approaching your life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It doesn’t mean you see the world through rose-tinted glasses by ignoring or glossing over the negative aspects of life.
Positive thinking does not mean you avoid difficult situations. Instead, positive thinking means you make the most of potential obstacles, try to see the best in other people, and view yourself and your abilities in a positive way.
According to positive psychology researcher Suzanne Segerstrom, “Setbacks are inherent to almost every worthwhile human activity, and a number of studies show that optimists are in general both psychologically and physiologically healthier” (Segerstrom).
Other psychologists, like Martin Seligman, frame positive thinking in terms of your explanatory style, which describes how you explain why events occur.
- People with an optimistic explanatory style tend to give themselves credit when positive things happen and often blame other sources for unfavorable outcomes. They also tend to regard unfavorable situations as sporadic and out of the ordinary.
- People with a pessimistic explanatory style frequently blame themselves when bad things happen, but fail to give themselves due credit for great achievements. They also have a tendency to see bad situations as predictable and long-lasting (Cherry).
As you might expect, if you blame yourself for events outside of your control or view these unfortunate events as a permanent part of your life, it can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Positive thinkers are more likely to use an optimistic explanatory style. However, the way a person attributes events can also vary depending on the situation. For example, a person who is generally a positive thinker might use a more pessimistic explanatory style in particularly challenging situations, such as at work or at school.
What are the benefits of positive thinking?
Are there any benefits to positive thinking? Yes, there are and they have an impact on your health, well-being, and success. Here are some of them:
Positive thinkers are more able to cope with stressful situations than pessimists who are not positive thinkers. Rather than concentrating on their grievances or things they cannot alter, positive thinkers will devise a plan of action and ask others for assistance.
Pessimists, on the other hand, are more likely to assume that the situation is beyond their control and there is nothing they can do about it.
Recently, researchers have discovered that your mind can have a profound effect on your body. Immunity is one area where your thoughts and emotions can have a significant impact.
In one study, researchers discovered that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response to a flu vaccine. Those who were optimistic about a specific and essential aspect of their lives, such as how well they were doing in school, had a higher immunological response than those who were pessimistic about the circumstance (Segerstrom & Sephton).
Positive thinking not only affects your ability to manage your stress and your immunity, but it also affects your overall well-being, including a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular problems, less depression, and an increased lifespan.
While researchers are not entirely clear on why positive thinking benefits health, some suggest that positive people may live healthier lifestyles. By coping better with stress and avoiding unhealthy behaviors, they are able to improve their health and well-being.
Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity and deal with challenges. Positive thinkers are more resilient than negative thinkers because they view setbacks as temporary and solvable rather than permanent and hopeless.
They tend to view failures as opportunities for learning and growth rather than as indicators of their self-worth or competence. Positive thinkers who are resilient can overcome obstacles and achieve their goals more readily.
Positive thinkers have higher self-esteem than negative thinkers because they have more confidence in themselves and their capabilities. They prefer to focus on their strengths rather than their faults, and they accept themselves as they are rather than compare themselves to others.
Positive thinkers who have high self-esteem can pursue their passions and interests without fear of rejection or criticism.
Happiness is the ultimate goal of many people’s lives. Positive thinking can help you achieve happiness by increasing your positive feelings and reducing your negative emotions. Positive feelings like joy, gratitude, love, and enthusiasm can boost your mood and make help you feel better about yourself and your life. Negative emotions such as anger, despair, fear, and guilt can lower your mood and make you feel bad about yourself and your life.
You can boost your happiness and enjoy life more by cultivating good thoughts and attitudes.
Relationships are an important source of support, comfort, and fulfillment for many people. Positive thinking can improve your relationships by making you more likable, trustworthy, supportive, and empathetic. Positive thinkers are more likely to attract other positive people who share their values and interests. They are also more likely to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts constructively, express appreciation, and show compassion.
By having better relationships, positive thinkers can enhance their social well-being and emotional health.
Success is not only measured by material wealth or achievements, but also by personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and growth. Positive thinking can help you achieve success by motivating you, inspiring you, empowering you, and helping you overcome obstacles.
Positive thinkers are more likely to set realistic but challenging goals, work hard, persevere, learn from mistakes, seek feedback, collaborate with others, and celebrate achievements. By being successful, positive thinkers can increase their self-efficacy, self-worth, and happiness.
How to practice positive thinking
Now that you know some of the benefits of positive thinking, you might be wondering how you can become a more positive thinker. The good news is that positive thinking is not something that you are born with or without. It is something that you can learn, practice, and improve over time. Here are some tips on how to practice positive thinking.
Identify your negative thoughts
The first step to becoming a more positive thinker is to recognize when you have negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are often automatic, habitual, or irrational. They might sound like “I can’t do this”, “I’m not good enough”, “This will never work”, “Everything is going wrong”, or “Nobody likes me”. These thoughts can make you feel anxious, depressed, angry, or hopeless.
To identify your negative thoughts, pay attention to how you talk to yourself in different situations. You might also want to write down your thoughts in a journal or use an app like Thought Diary.
Challenge your negative thoughts
The next step is to challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself questions such as “Is this thought true?”, “Is this thought helpful?”, “Is this thought realistic?”, “What evidence do I have for this thought?”, “What evidence do I have against this thought?”, “What would I say to a friend who had this thought?”, or “What would be a more balanced or positive way of looking at this situation?”.
By challenging your negative thoughts, you can expose their flaws, weaken their power, and replace them with more rational or optimistic thoughts.
Reframe your negative thoughts
The final step is to reframe your negative thoughts by finding alternative ways of interpreting the situation. Reframing means changing the way you look at something by considering different perspectives, meanings, or outcomes. For example, instead of thinking “I failed this test”, you could reframe it as “I learned what I need to improve on”. Instead of thinking “I lost my job”, you could reframe it as “I have an opportunity to find something better”. Instead of thinking “I’m stuck in traffic”, you could reframe it as “I have some extra time to listen to music or podcasts”.
By reframing your negative thoughts, you can turn them into positive ones that make you feel better.
Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for what you have or what someone has done for you. Practicing gratitude can help you cultivate positive thinking by focusing on the good things in your life rather than the bad ones.
Some ways to practice gratitude include writing down three things that you are grateful for every day, sending thank-you notes or messages to people who have helped you or made you happy, expressing your gratitude verbally to others, or keeping a gratitude journal.
Use positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself to boost your confidence, motivation, and self-esteem. They can help you overcome negative thoughts and beliefs by replacing them with positive ones. For example, instead of saying “I’m not good at public speaking”, you could say “I’m confident and prepared for my presentation”. Instead of saying “I’m too old to learn new skills”, you could say “I’m capable and eager to learn new things”.
Some tips for using positive affirmations include choosing statements that are meaningful and relevant to you, using the present tense and the first person, repeating them regularly and with conviction, and writing them down or displaying them where you can see them often.
Surround yourself with positive people
The people you interact with can have a significant impact on your mood, attitude, and behavior. Surrounding yourself with positive people can help you become more positive by exposing you to their optimism, encouragement, and support. Positive people can also inspire you, challenge you, and teach you new things. On the other hand, avoiding or limiting contact with negative people can help you prevent their pessimism, criticism, and complaints from dragging you down. Negative people can also discourage you, undermine you, and drain your energy.
Some ways to surround yourself with positive people include joining groups or clubs that share your interests or values, reaching out to friends or family who are positive and supportive, or finding a mentor or coach who can guide you and motivate you.
Do things that make you happy
Happiness is not only a result of positive thinking but also a cause of it. Doing things that make you happy can help you generate positive emotions and thoughts that can improve your well-being and health. Happiness can also make you more resilient, creative, and productive.
Some examples of things that can make you happy include engaging in hobbies or activities that you enjoy, spending time with loved ones, listening to music, reading books, watching movies, exercising, meditating, volunteering, traveling, or learning something new. The key is to find what works for you and do it regularly.
Positive thinking is not a magic bullet that will solve all your problems or make all your dreams come true. It is a skill that requires practice, patience, and persistence. However, by applying some of the tips and strategies that I have shared with you in this blog post, you can start developing a more positive mindset that can help you live your best life.
Remember, positive thinking does not mean ignoring reality or denying difficulties. It means facing them with optimism, confidence, and hope. It means seeing the opportunities in every challenge, the strengths in every weakness, and the beauty in every moment.
So, what are you still waiting for? Begin practicing positive thinking today and see how it may transform your life.
- Cherry, K. “Benefits of Positive Thinking for Body and Mind.” Verywell Mind, updated June 21, 2019.
- Eagleson, C., Hayes, S., Mathews, A., et al. “The Power of Positive Thinking: Pathological Worry is Reduced by Thought Replacement in Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” Behavior Research and Therapy, vol. 78, March 2016, pp. 13-18.
- Scheier, M. F. & Carver, C. S. “On the Power of Positive Thinking: The Benefits of Being Optimistic.” Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 2, no. 1, 1993, pp. 26-30.
- Segerstrom, S. “Optimism and Immunity: Do Positive Thoughts Always Lead to Positive Effects? Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, vol. 19, no. 3, May 2005, pp. 195-200.
- Segerstrom, S. & Sephton, S. “Optimistic Expectancies and Cell-Mediated Immunity: The Role of Positive Affect.” Psychological Science, vol. 21, no. 3, 2010, pp. 448-455.