“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Psychologists define positive thinking as a measure that underlies feelings of life satisfaction, self-esteem, and optimism.
It’s a critical component of happiness, which is experienced (or not) in every aspect of life, and it creates the framework through which we interpret everything that happens to us.
It is with our thinking that we shape the “good or bad” events in our life, with profound impacts on everything that happens to us. Read on to find out how to have a positive mindset.
Benefits Of A Positive Mindset
Scientists are just beginning to explore the many mental and physical benefits of having a positive mindset. Here’s what the research shows so far:
• Reduces Stress
Psychologists have proven that stress is not inherent in any event, but it’s the result of our way of thinking about the event. The amount of meaning we give to situations determines the intensity of the stress we experience.
Positive thinkers experience stressful situations as less threatening, and therefore cope with them more effectively.
• Improves Success At Work
Studies show that as much as 25% of a person’s job satisfaction is determined by their own positive thinking. It helps to create a positive cycle in the workplace: employees who are more positive have reduced absenteeism and burnout.
They receive better evaluations from supervisors and co-workers. They perform better at cognitive tasks. Their jobs have more autonomy, meaning, and variety.
• Reduces Depression
Positive thinkers report greater vitality and stronger mental health. They have lower levels of depression, partly because they have a greater belief in their ability to control situations and improve their lives.
• Improves Heart Health
Multiple studies show that positive thinkers have improved cardiovascular health. They are less likely to suffer from angina and heart attacks. And, when they do have cardiovascular events, positive thinkers have faster, better recovery.
• Improves Immune Response
Did you know that people who use humor as a coping device have better immune function? Positive thinking is associated with improved immunity, and fewer common health problems like colds, flus, and allergies.
In fact, people who report optimism and more positive emotions have measurably higher levels of salivary immunoglobulin A, our body’s first line of defense against respiratory diseases.
You may feel like all these factors in your life, like your stress levels, your heart health, your immune system, even your performance at work may be beyond your control. And yet we know that positive thinking alone can create all these incredible benefits in every aspect of your life. In fact, positive thinking may go even further to helping you achieve your goals and improve your destiny.
What Is A Positive Mindset?
Before we go any further, let’s clear up some misconceptions about what it means to have a positive mindset. Positive thinking isn’t simply deluding yourself into having a false sense of optimism about the very real struggles you face in life.
Among cancer patients, the positive mindset that was found to have the greatest impact on physical health consisted of four crucial factors:
• Accepting The Reality Of The Situation
A positive mindset isn’t built on ignoring facts; you have to be able to understand the truth of the situation you are in.
• Placing A Positive Light On The Situation
People with a positive mindset actively look for positive aspects of even negative situations. They focus on the best aspects and most positive possible outcomes.
• Relieving Tension With Humor
Looking for humor even when things seem bleak is a key aspect of positive thinking. It helps us cope with stress and find optimism in tough situations.
• Taking Active Steps To Address The Situation
People with a positive mindset don’t get overwhelmed with helplessness. Their positive thinking helps them have the self-esteem and confidence to take positive action when things are difficult.
A positive mindset is grounded in reality, but views reality with optimism, and uses that optimism to take action. So, what are some easy, practical ways to create a positive mindset?
Ways To Achieve A Positive Mindset
Here are some practical steps you can take every day to cultivate a more positive mindset:
• Make And Use Lists Of Positive Words
When you force your brain to use positive words, they become more accessible and more easily activated in your thoughts. They come to mind more quickly and are more easily applied to the situations you encounter in life.
• Create Positive Thinking Tasks For Yourself
When you have a list of positive words, make exercises that forces your brain to think more deeply about those words and their meanings. For example, you could memorize your list, and then set an alarm to remind you to repeat the list. When that becomes easy, use the alarm to repeat the list in reverse order.
Or make flashcards or fill-in-the-blank activities that deepen your connection to those words.
• Pay Attention To The Positive
If you are a person who tends to dwell on negative experiences, then you are reliving those negative experiences over and over again, training your mind to pay attention to them. Instead, shift your focus to positive experiences over and over again.
For example, you may be thinking about the person who cut you off in traffic and dwelling on that situation. But the hundreds (or thousands!) of people who haven’t cut you off get no recognition at all. Place your attention on things that are working and going well.
• Experience Gratitude
One way to redirect attention toward things that are positive is to make and keep a gratitude journal. These journals force the mind to think of positive aspects of your life and redirect attention away from negative things.
• Use Classical Conditioning
Use your list of positive words, or some items from your gratitude journal, or simply make a positive mantra for yourself. Then use some ordinary everyday event (like a notification on your phone, an ad break in a video, the sound of the neighbor’s barking dog) as a cue to think those positive words or phrases.
Using random triggers in life to give yourself small, positive moments can help to condition a positive mindset overall, and help you train your brain in a more positive direction.
• Redirect Negative Self-Talk
If you find yourself thinking negative things about yourself, use your journal to create an alternate list of things that are positive about you. When that negative thought pops into your head, try to “answer” it with a more positive one.
• Hold On To Good Emotions
If you are having a good day or a nice moment, stop and focus on it. Really pay attention to your breathing, your emotions, and the situation. Try to memorize it. Build up a “library” of good moments and feelings that you can access in more stressful times.
• Look For Humor In Negative Experiences
This one can be difficult but try to find something funny even in moments that are negative or unhappy. Maybe this situation will make a funny story later, or it could only happen in ridiculous circumstances. Laughter is healthy and can boost your mood, even in dark moments.
• Create Positive Relationships
Everyone has negative people in their lives, and sometimes, when these people are family or co-workers, they can be impossible to avoid. But try to spend most of your time with people who are positive and have a positive outlook.
Pay attention to how they make you feel after you spend time with them. Creating positive relationships and then spending time with those people helps to reinforce your own positive thinking, and, when you are down, they can help you see the bright side you may have lost sight of.
• Enjoy Positive Media
Laughter really is the best medicine. Seek out entertainment that makes you laugh and enjoy yourself, even if it’s just for a few moments. Funny videos, books, comics, even social media posts can be a great way to divert yourself from negative thoughts.
Positive thinking is an incredibly powerful tool that can transform every aspect of your life. And, believe it or not, you can take control of your brain and re-train it to create a more positive mindset.
Positive thinking can improve every aspect of your life, and pay off in the most unexpected ways, and it’s not that difficult to re-condition your mind into a pattern of more attention, more gratitude, more positivity, and more optimism.
It’s no accident that the people who are more optimistic and hopeful also seem to experience better health and have more success in everything they attempt.
Positive thinking affects every aspect of our lives, in ways we don’t yet fully understand. But it’s within your power to change your thinking, and your life, and you can start today.
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Always speak to your practitioner before embarking on any new alternative treatments. If you have concerns about any medical matters, you should always consult your healthcare provider without delay.
We thank you for taking full responsibility for your own health and wellbeing in life. ☺