Positive Thinking = Positive Outcomes
The last year and a half (or more) has brought added stress to many of our lives and a lot of us are still struggling with ways to manage. There are many theories and tools available to help us, but one thing that is popping up more and more often is the shift in mindset to focus on positive thinking. This may not sound like something that would make much of a difference, but truth is there are many studies showing how our thoughts are tied to aspects of our lives such as stress management, feelings of fulfillment, and longevity. Have you spent your life being more “glass half-empty” than “glass half-full”? No worries, it turns out that making the shift to positive thinking can be learned! Read on for some tips and tools to get you on the path to positivity.
What Exactly IS Positive Thinking?
In order to begin the shift to positive thinking, it is important to first understand what positive thinking is. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you have to ignore anything in your life that is not perfect and shiny. Most of us will encounter situations regularly that require us to put in effort to solve problems or find solutions. Positive thinking refers to the approach you take to get to those solutions. If we can shift our approach to the situations to look at things in a positive and productive way, we are more likely to be able to experience less stress and more satisfaction with the eventual results of our efforts.
Potential Positive Benefits
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a long list of health benefits to shifting your mindset in a positive direction. Some of the benefits they list include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Why these benefits exist is still a bit of a mystery, but some of the theories out there include the better management of stress lessening the overall effects of the stress itself, and the possibility that people who engage in positive thinking are more likely to lead a healthier life in general. Whatever the reasons behind the benefits, the benefits themselves are clear.
How To Make the Shift
If you have spent the majority of your life thinking the sky is falling anytime you encounter stress, it is not too late to incorporate some optimism into your life. Making the change will require some self reflection and some internal work, but it is absolutely possible and obviously beneficial to you to do so.
When making the shift, start small. Start by identifying areas of your life that lead to increased stress and then choose one or two to focus on. As you are focusing on those aspects of your life, check in with yourself throughout the day to see how you are managing your stress. If you are caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, stop and look at what you are telling yourself and ask if you would say that to a friend or colleague in the same situation. Often we are harder on ourselves than we would ever be to someone else. Identifying that negative self-talk and reframing it is key to shifting your mindset as a whole.
Also, try to put the situation into perspective and allow yourself some grace. Sometimes things that seem big in the moment are just speed bumps in the long run. Allowing yourself to reframe and refocus to see the bigger picture will help you to keep things in perspective with a positive focus. Overall, just take things slowly and realize that it will take time to get your glass half-full. You are building a new habit and that takes time. Just remember that the power of positive thinking is in your hands and you can do anything you set your mind to!
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress” Mayo Clinic, January 21, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950.
Kendra Cherry. “Understanding the Psychology of Positive Thinking” Verywell Mind, November 26, 2019. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-positive-thinking-2794772