The Power Of Positive Thinking
The power of positive thinking is remarkable.
In fact, the idea that your mind can change your world almost seems too good to be true.
I can assure you, however, that I have experienced AND witnessed the good that having a positive mindset can bring.
Both positive and negative thoughts are powerful but have opposite results. Today I want to talk to you about how both can impact you, and how the power of positive thinking can truly transform every aspect of your life.
The Benefits and Power of Positive Thinking
Positive thinking means you look for solutions and expect to find them.
You don’t ignore problems, but instead of complaining about them or letting them overpower you, you actively look for ways to overcome them. You take responsibility for your life on a consistent basis because you understand you are in control of how your life progresses.
A positive thinker finds the benefits — or the bright side — of challenges, and expects things to work out well.
Having a positive attitude means you have an optimistic outlook. An optimistic attitude means you have hope. You believe things will work out well and ultimately you will have success.
Scientists have been studying the health benefits of positive thinking for a long time. Research suggests that positive people have better mental health and physical health and even live longer.
Having a positive outlook can give you a reduced risk having a heart attack, getting a cold, and being depressed.
Positive thinking can lower a person’s risk of death from serious illnesses, including cancer, infections, heart disease, stroke, and lung conditions. It improves the outcomes of patients with brain tumors and traumatic brain injury and boosts your immune system.
A positive state of mind even gives you a higher pain tolerance.
When you have a positive outlook, you are better equipped to cope with stress and hardships, you think more creatively, and are better at problem-solving.
Thinking positively puts you in a better mood so you can form positive relationships with co-workers, family members, friends, and new acquaintances.
Signs of Positive Thinking
How do you recognize a positive mindset? People with positive attitudes tend to have a healthy lifestyle. They smile more, are more pleasant to be around, and are more calm under pressure.
Someone with a more positive outlook is often willing to try new things. They have higher self esteem, love to have a good laugh, and point out the silver lining in every gray cloud.
A positive outlook is infectious, and people with a positive outlook can’t help but share it with those around them.
Positive thinkers are always kind to people and don’t talk negatively about themselves or others.
People with more positive thoughts have better coping skills and know how to manage stress better by doing things like exercising more often and having a healthier diet.
The Effects of Negative Thoughts
The opposite of a positive outlook is a pessimistic outlook.
Negative emotions and thoughts put limitations on your brain activity and ability to make choices.
When you are faced with a destructive emotion, such as fear, you can think of little else except what you are fearful of.
This can be helpful when you are in a dangerous situation and you instinctively think of running away from it so you can be safe and protect your well-being.
But fear is detrimental when it prevents you from trying something new that could change your life for good because you are afraid you might be laughed at, rejected, or fail.
The same is true for anger, jealousy, sadness, loneliness, annoyance, guilt, frustration, and other negative emotions.
Negative thoughts prevent us from progressing, and having a negative outlook prevents us from being happy. It affects both your physical health and mental well-being.
Pessimistic attitudes attract more negativity to you. Complaining, being cynical, not trusting, and blaming make it more likely that disappointing things will continue to come to you.
This way of thinking can cause specific mortality issues as well. A 35-year prospective cohort study conducted with over 13,000 elderly men and women residents of the Leisure World retirement community in California found that people with a negative attitude have an increased risk of death than those with a more positive mindset.
It is also linked to cardiovascular disease. Emotions like worry, depression, loneliness, chronic stress, and anger are characteristics of thinking negatively, and they can all increase your risk of heart disease.
Signs of Negative Thinking
Turn a negative thought into a positive one by recognizing the signs of a pessimistic outlook.
One sign is perfectionism. When you set standards that are impossible to reach, you constantly set yourself up for failure.
Another sign of a damaging attitude is anticipating that the worst will happen without any facts to back that up. You may feel like the whole world is against you and more bad things happen to you than good.
When you get to the end of your day and obsess about the negative events that happened but filter out all the many positive experiences you had, you are allowing a harmful attitude to control your outlook on life.
Those that do not make a habit of thinking positively see a glass half empty instead of half full. They focus on what they do not have instead of being grateful for what they do have. The forefront of their thinking is about what is going wrong instead of what is going right.
People with negative attitudes also tend to:
- Automatically blame themselves when bad things happen
- Blame others instead of taking responsibility for their own thoughts or feelings
- Magnify minor problems into much bigger negative events
- Dwell on past experiences and mistakes instead of looking toward the future
- Focus on minor details instead of seeing the bigger picture
- Have poor stress management skills and do not make their mental health a priority
Practice Positive Self-Talk vs. Negative Self-Talk
Stop negative self-talk with the positive things you say to yourself, words of encouragement, recognition of your successes, and sincere compliments that build your self-esteem.
Self-talk is the thoughts that run through your head. Sometimes we are not even aware of the stream of thoughts that are playing in our subconscious mind.
But if we tap into our thought processes, we can have more control over whether we are practicing positive self-talk or the opposite.
If your internal dialogue is mostly positive, you are a positive thinker. If it’s often negative, it reflects in a bad attitude and pessimistic outlook.
Positive thinking creates positive emotions, positive attitudes, and positive results, whereas negative thinking will keep you stagnant.
Let me show you some ways you can replace pessimistic thoughts with positive thoughts:
- Instead of saying, “I don’t want to do that, I’ve never done it before,” say, “I’ll try it because I may learn something new.”
- Instead of thinking, “I’m never going to get better at this,” say, “I’ll try again until I figure it out.”
We tend to be hard on ourselves, but we need to be our biggest cheerleaders.
So when you feel you’ve made a mistake or even failed at something, think instead, “What can I learn from this so that I’ll be more successful?”
Don’t think about what if you fail, think about what if you succeed.
How to Practice Positive Thinking
You can train your mind to think positively by leveraging a simple scientific concept: Your working memory can only focus on a few concepts at a time.
For example, have you ever found it difficult to talk on the phone and listen to someone else at the same time?
So, to help you train your mind, all you have to do is keep it focused on uplifting thoughts until you form the same types of neural pathways that are created when you establish a new habit. With focused practice, you make a habit of more positive thinking.
Practice the virtues of positive psychology, which focuses on building your mental health with character traits like courage, gratitude, hope, humor, knowledge, and encouragement.
When an adverse event occurs, remember that it’s your response that truly determines the outcome. Always look for a positive response or optimistic lesson when such events take place.
Use the following eight strategies to develop a positive mental attitude and have a more positive outlook on your life and the world around you.
Identify what your unfavorable habits are so you can assess areas of needed change.
Notice the thoughts you have during the day. Where does your mind wander to when you are driving, walking, or your hands are busy? What kind of internal dialogue do you have when you are faced with challenges, negative situations, or the mundane aspects of daily life?
If your answers to those questions were related to negative thought patterns or habits, start to replace them with positive ones.
Start by identifying the parts of your life that tend to cause negative feelings and thoughts. It might be a relationship, your morning commute, co-workers, a family member, work environment, or other responsibility.
Then, think of positive ways you can approach these circumstances. Start small by focusing on one issue at a time and apply principles of positive psychology with self-talk and a good attitude.
Are you a glass-half-empty person, or a glass-half-full one?
Get in touch with the inner workings of your mind by asking yourself if you fall into any of these thought patterns:
- All or nothing: I didn’t do it perfectly, so I failed.
- Jumping to conclusions: Things aren’t going well now, so obviously it’s not going to end well.
- Emotional reasoning: I feel she doesn’t like me, so it must be true, even though there is no evidence to back it up.
- Overgeneralizing: I didn’t make my sales quota this month, so I’m a terrible salesperson.
- Mental filter: I got one negative comment on my social media post, and even though there were 20 positive comments, it must have been a bad post.
Find Good in the World
Optimists seem to have different ways of dealing with the world that set them apart from the average.
Optimists look for the good in every problem or difficulty. When things go wrong, as they often do, they say, “That’s good!” They, then set about finding something positive about the situation.
What we know is that, if you are looking for something good or beneficial in a person or situation, you will always find it. And while you are looking, you will be a more positive and cheerful person.
An excellent way to find more good in the world is to develop better coping skills. Try some of these ways:
- Make meaningful connections with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or groups.
- Focus on finding solutions instead of worrying about the problem.
- Look for opportunities to learn new things.
- Accept change as a natural part of life, and understand you can’t change some things.
- Face challenges head-on instead of ignoring them or wishing they’d go away.
- Keep things in perspective by not blowing a situation out of proportion.
- Take care of yourself by eating healthy, exercising, and relaxing.
Be Clear About Your Goals
Optimists keep their minds on what they want and keep looking for ways to get it. They are clear about their goals and they are confident that they will accomplish them, sooner or later.
Focus on what you want out of life and make a plan to move forward. Don’t allow setbacks to discourage you. Instead, remind yourself that positive things can come out of all situations.
Refrain from comparing yourself to others. You are a unique individual who has your own story to tell.
Successful people define what is most important to them and prioritize the activities of their daily lives so that they will meet their goals, despite tough situations, distractions from the outside world, or the negative aspects or attitudes of others.
Goal setting gives meaning to your life. It gives you something meaningful to focus on and provides a reason to have a daily to-do list of important things to accomplish.
When you reach goals or the small milestones that lead to your final destination, you increase your self-esteem and motivation, both of which make you a more positive thinker.
Practice Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are positive phrases that can be repeated over and over to teach you how to get rid of negative thoughts and encourage a positive outlook.
Peer-reviewed studies support the benefits of affirmations. For example, a recent study conducted by members of James Cook University in Australia found that self-affirmations have a positive effect on coping skills and well-being.
A positive person thinks positive thoughts and uses positive words. Choose your words carefully in speaking, writing, and thinking.
The words you choose affect how others respond to you. Stop complaining and make a habit of sharing positive information.
Stay positive by choosing words like “I can,” “I will try,” “It is possible,” and “I am capable.”
Add positive affirmations to your morning routine, such as “I am happy with who I am right now, ” “I am confident,” “I am strong,” “I am enough,” and “I choose to be happy.”
Add Positivity to Your Everyday Life
Positive people help you to change your own attitude to have a more positive outlook.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel confident, optimistic, and encouraged. Identify the negative people in your life and find ways to distance yourself from them or improve the relationship.
Watch and listen to positive media, including upbeat music, news, and social media posts. Read books, articles, and blog posts that boost your positive mindset.
Even colors and images affect your attitude. Pay attention to the way your home and office are decorated. Hang photographs and pictures that make you think positive thoughts and help you maintain a positive attitude. Use colors in your surroundings that make you happy.
I also find motivation from inspirational quotes and messages to be very useful when trying to induce positive thoughts. Keep a collection of positive quotes in a journal, on your Pinterest board, in the notes on your phone, or in a document on your computer, and refer to them often.
Decide to Be Happy and Have a Positive Outlook
While it is healthy to have sad moments when circumstances call for it, you can maintain an overall positive outlook on life.
Resolve from now to see your glass of life as half full rather than half empty. Happy people give thanks for the many blessings in life rather than worrying or complaining about the things they do not have.
Assume the best of intentions on the part of everyone around you. Most people are pretty decent, honest, and trying to do the very best they know how to. When you look for something good in their words and actions, you will almost always find something.
Looking on the bright side is most important when things go wrong. It helps you to find perspective, cope, and have hope that things will get better.
When you practice gratitude, you look at your life in a more positive way.
You notice the things that are going well, the aspects of your life that bring joy, and the random acts of kindness others extend to you.
Spend time each day cultivating a positive mindset by writing what you are grateful for in your gratitude journal. Take note of positive events, feelings, and circumstances.
You will find this one habit will improve your mental health and well-being and soon positive thinking will be natural to you. Writing regularly in your gratitude journal creates a habit of guiding your thoughts toward what you are grateful for.
So, in the same way that you write down your thankfulness, you will find yourself automatically thinking of gratitude in every circumstance you find yourself in during the day.
Smile, Play, and Laugh More Often
A simple smile can turn a bad day into a good one. Harness the power a smile has on yourself and others by making a habit of smiling more often.
Find reasons to smile and let yourself be happy.
Taking time to play is helpful to maintaining a positive outlook. Schedule time for recreation and spending time with people you like doing things you enjoy.
Have a playful attitude. When you stop complaining about negative situations and find humor instead, you are able to breathe deeply and diffuse stress.
Smiling, playing, and laughing help reduce stress, which makes you happier and healthier, naturally leading to positive thinking.
Positive Thinking Creates Positive Outcomes
Developing a positive attitude can help you in more ways than you might realize. When you think positive thoughts, you don’t allow your mind (conscious or subconscious) to entertain any negative thoughts or doubts. Positive thoughts can literally be the key to success.
After you learn how to think positively, you will notice amazing changes all around you. Your brain will actually begin to operate in a state of free-flowing feel-good hormones called endorphins, which will make you feel lighter and happier.
You’ll also notice a major boost in confidence and will feel more capable of taking on new assignments and challenges that might have previously been outside your comfort zone.
By reducing your self-limiting beliefs, you will effectively release your brakes and experience growth like you never imagined. Essentially, you can change your entire life simply by harnessing the power of positive thinking.
Begin now to harness the power of positive thinking by practicing these habits to keep a positive attitude. Write down your goals and use my 14-Step Goal Setting Guide to help you develop new skills and create new ideas on how to cultivate and keep a positive outlook.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.