Have ever wondered what the secret is to optimism? Is it something you’re born with, or a skill can develop later in life? Science suggests that developing optimism in your daily life — or practicing positive thinking — may be more attainable than you think.
The concept of positive thinking derives from the idea that our minds create and frame the world we perceive. If we expect that a tough situation we approach, like arriving at a party without knowing anyone there or getting a flat tire on the road, will immediately end in despair, our experience of that particular situation will likely result in a negative outcome.
Positive or negative thinking refers to our expectations of situations in life, as well as the nature of our stream of consciousness, or the self-talk that runs through our minds throughout the day. If you find yourself internally complaining about your job or coworkers, stewing over how frustrating rush hour can be, or bemoaning pieces of your daily life, you may be familiar with a few aspects of negative self-talk. Over time, negative self-talk builds an inner world that limits possibilities, rejects opportunities for daily joy that isn’t linked to success or other tangible gains, and forms expectations that most situations will go awry. Understanding the painful effects of negative self-talk helps us better understand how positive thinking can be revolutionary.
The Value Being Hopeful
Maintaining a positive outlook on life’s circumstances means more than simply being an optimistic person. The skill set that comes along with positive thinking includes creative problem-solving, an enhanced ability to communicate effectively with others, and a desire to approach the world with more curiosity and understanding. In essence, positive thinking promotes the concept that life has more possibilities that negative thinking would allow.
Health Benefits of Being Positive
While positive thinking does not serve as an exclusive substitute for handling crisis or trauma, research suggests that it has an impact on daily life and general wellbeing. Positive thinking has been linked to lower symptoms of depression, anxiety, distress that arise from difficult life situations. Though it’s still undetermined how exactly positive thinkers experience these health benefits, one theory suggests that positive thinking leaves us better prepared to cope with stress, thereby salvaging our physical and mental health when they would otherwise be affected by negative thought processes.
How to Change Your Mind
So how can we transform ourselves into positive thinkers? Take this set of examples from the Mayo Clinic on reframing thoughts from a negative to a positive perspective: