Try though I might, I have thus far failed to find an overstatement of the benefits of positive thinking. What many are quick to wave off as simply ‘being cheerful, carefree or happy’ is really a daily practice that can have a wildly transformative effect on life.
Healthy, open-minded optimism has a catalytic effect on personal and professional success, as well as improves interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.
This isn’t as cliché as how the glass is half full or half empty. What I’m talking about is a mindset that reframes your worldview. Whatever you envision in a better life for yourself, be it material wealth, professional success, emotional security, or peaceful contentment, positive thinking will always be there as a central prerequisite. Let’s dig in and see how, shall we?
1. Experiences and perceptions
How many good things have happened to you in the past week? How many bad things? If I asked the same questions to someone else, who had lived through the exact same week as you, would their answers be the same? And how would we know who was right?
Truth is, you both would be right.
Very little in life is objectively good or bad. In almost every case, it is within our power to decide how to experience it, you guessed it right the power of perception. Most of the time, if you choose to see a moment in your life as good, then it is. Same if you decide it vice versa. Now you see why the saying goes ‘you are the master of your own life?’
You cannot control all the events of your day, but you can manage how you think about them. And usually, the way you think has a much bigger impact on the way you feel than the event itself.
It is up to you to interpret nearly everything you encounter. Most of the time, whether or not you have a good day is entirely up to how you choose to experience it. some may see failures as step backs, others may see them as learning experiences for future successes.
When you take a positive attitude toward life, then you will naturally end up with a more positive attitude toward yourself!
A positive, supportive relationship with yourself is how you build self love. People who truly love themselves feel happier, accomplish more, and aren’t nearly as weighed down by life’s challenges as everybody else.
Learning to love oneself is essential to fully loving and sharing positivity with others. Many a times, we feel that others block our happiness, this may or may not be true. But what we can control is how we see ourselves despite how other’s perceive us. This is possible only with self love and acceptance, which starts with tuning our thoughts to be positive.
3. Positive Thinking on autopilot
positive thinking is a natural way to increase serotonin, which in turn makes it easier to feel happier and view things more positively.
For example, getting a car to go from 0-60 mph takes some force and effort. Once you get up to speed, it’s easier to keep moving. Sure, you’ve got to accelerate a bit here and there, but for the most part it’s smooth sailing.
building a positive attitude is an investment. It takes a bit to get started, but once you’re cruising at 60 miles per hour, it does a lot of the work done on auto pilot. Positive thinking becomes easier as you go; you just need to keep giving it those little pushes along the way.
4. People like to be around people with a positive mindset.
It is better to be someone who faces a problem and asks, “how can we solve it?” than to be someone who complains about the problem and jumps immediately to the reasons it cannot be solved. Sure, complaining is natural sometimes, but after a point action must follow.
People tend to like to be around people with a go-getter attitude, rather than a serial cribber. Those with a persistently positive mindset naturally and almost invariably attract the respect and appreciation of others. This leads to stronger relationships with others, as well as an increase in personal and professional opportunities finding their way to you.
5. Healthier Relationships
Just as a positive attitude can transform your relationship with yourself so too can it give new life to your relationships with others.
Think of the people in your life who you love to spend time with. The ones who make you feel happy, appreciated, loved. It’s fun just to be around them, and you usually walk away with a smile. Dollars to donuts, these are people with positive attitudes.
Its important to realize, these are not people who never have bad days, never get upset with life, and are incapable of causing others pain or discomfort. But they typically choose to see the good in events as well as in people. They don’t let negative circumstances overtake their world, and they have healthy relationships with themselves, which helps them be a better connection to you.
When you take hold of a positive lens through which to view your world, it enables you to be more supportive to those around you. This, in turn, makes them more enthusiastic to spend time with you, and motivated to be supportive in return.
6. Taking control of your life
At no point can you simply skip over life’s bad stuff. But a positive attitude that refuses to let the bad, worse and the ugly define your life.
Being optimism is not the same as being unrealistic or avoiding negative emotions. Optimism is taking the lemons life gives you, and making the very best of it you can. Making room for hurt feelings to happen, and also letting the positive perspective in to find your way forward. We can’t stop the challenges from coming, but one of the greatest benefits of positive thinking is to be able to handle them, keep taking the next step, and not let them decide fate.
Avoiding the Disadvantages of Positive Thinking
In fair contrast to the far-reaching benefits, it’s also important to note some of the potential disadvantages of too much positive thinking. Where negative emotions are shunned out and immediately and forcefully replaced by positive ones:
Buddha was right when he said that expectation is the root of all disappointment. Blind optimism can lead to unrealistic expectations, and harsh feelings of disappointment when expectations are not met.
Excessive positivity with others can draw misunderstanding, envy, and even resentment from others. Forcefully imposing optimism can make people feel like you are negating their emotions and experiences and may also lead them to feel like they cannot connect with you.
Trying to be exclusively positive in the face of your own or others’ negative feelings can create an environment of toxic positivity. This is something to be extremely vigilant about.
As a general rule, think of positivity as a compass. Use it to navigate and interpret situations, and help you decide how to act. Optimism doesn’t become problematic until you try to use it to replace, avoid or negate negative feelings. So long as you take care to be mindful and empathetic in your positivity, you are good to go.
How Can I Develop Positive Thoughts?
Here’s a quick guide:
1. Focus on the good things
Challenging situations and obstacles are a part of life. When you’re faced with one, focus on the good things no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they seem. There's a silver lining in every cloud — even if it’s not immediately obvious. For example, if you had a plan to have a nice picnic outside and it starts to rain, try refocusing that excitement in some Netflix and chill time.
2. Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and foster resilience even in very difficult times. Think of people, moments, or things that bring you some kind of comfort or happiness and try to express your gratitude at least once a day. Studies have found that writing down the things you’re grateful for can improve your optimism and sense of well-being (Hicks, 2018). You can do this by writing in a gratitude journal every day, or jotting down a list of things you’re grateful for on days you’re having a hard time.
3. Spend time with positive people
Negativity and positivity have been shown to be contagious. Consider the people with whom you’re spending time. notice how someone in a bad mood can bring down almost everyone in a room? Being around positive people has been shown to improve self-esteem and increase your chances of reaching goals. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and help you see the bright side.
4. Practice positive self-talk
We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and be our own worst critic. Over time, this can cause you to form a negative opinion of yourself that can be hard to shake. To stop this, you’ll need to be mindful of the voice in your head and respond with positive messages, also known as positive self-talk.
Research shows that even a small shift in the way you talk to yourself can influence your ability to regulate your feelings, thoughts, and behavior under stress (Kross, 2014).
Positive thinking is more than a simple, good habit; it takes a little bit of effort to get it going if you’re not already in a bit of a rhythm with it. But once you establish that rhythm, it takes on a life of its own. “It grows, evolves, and adapts to fit your situation. And as I’ve said already, positivity is self-replicating.” Said Martin Seligman.
Hicks, A., Neace, S., DeCaro, M., & Salmon, P. (2018). The Role of Gratitude in Intrinsic and Extrinsic Exercise Motivation. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 50(5), 314.
Kross E, et al. (2014). Self-talk as a regulatory mechanism: How you do it matters. DOI: 10.1037/a0035173
Mirgain S. (2015). The power of positive people: Why they're important to your health. uwhealth.org/news/the-power-of-positive-people-why-theyre-important-to-your-health/45119
By: Shreya Royan