“A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity. A positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty.” – Anon.
Have you ever had a day, or even a moment, where it felt like everything had just fallen into place and you were completely content? Or have you managed to talk yourself up to get through something challenging or difficult? These instances are usually the kind of results that come from thinking positively. In recent years there has been a shift towards the study of positive thinking and the power it can have on a situation and how we handle it. The findings are overwhelmingly showing that positive thinking can have huge benefits in all aspects of our lives.
Positive thoughts are closely linked with emotions such as joy, love and contentment. They allow us to deal with unpleasant or negative situations in a more productive manner because we are better able to focus on the bigger picture. Positive thinking is also known as optimism, and expands our awareness to better accommodate inspired, resourceful ideas and thoughts. This has a big impact on our self-esteem (the regard we hold ourselves in) and self-confidence (our belief in our own ability to navigate a situation).
As well as the effects on self-esteem, positive thinking has been linked to significant improvements in physical health when compared to constant negative thinking. These health benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Decreased rate of depression and stress
- Better cardiovascular health, and a decreased risk of heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved psychological health
- Increased life span
Positive thinking allows us to widen our view of things and see the bigger picture. In contrast, negative thoughts keep us focussed inwards on ourselves, and the immediate problem. By thinking positively, we are more inclined to be considerate towards others because our viewpoint isn’t narrowed. This is likely to improve our relationships with those around us, as we can invest more of ourselves into others, rather than using up energy on negative thought. By working on positive thinking, we can build more productive, positive relationships with our friends and family.
On the opposite side to positive thinking is negative or pessimistic thinking. This includes thoughts based on the emotions of anger, fear, jealousy, or stress. The brain’s automatic response when faced with these emotions is to narrow our field of view and focus all our thoughts on one thing, making it difficult to stop thinking about the negative and see the bigger picture. This can lead to increased stress or anxiety, and in prolonged, severe cases can exacerbate the symptoms of depression. Making an effort to promote positive thinking can really help with identifying and decreasing negative thoughts.
These methods can really help to boost positive thinking and make it a lasting habit
- Surround yourself with positive people. It makes it much easier to think positively when you are surrounded by people who reinforce those emotions!
- Practice positive self-talk. If your inner monologue is mainly positive, it creates an environment within yourself for positive emotion and thought.
- Identify the areas that need work. Have a think about where the negative thoughts creep in the most, and make more effort with positive self-talk in these situations.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle. If you feel good, you are more likely to have good thoughts and a better outlook.
- Make time for things you enjoy. Your passions give you good feelings, so making time for them means more time spent harbouring positive thoughts.
Source: Benestar. Explore more health and wellbeing resources by visiting www.benestar.com.