Our thoughts are central to our character. They determine our emotions, how we react to the world in tragedy or in celebration, and how we live mentally, physically, and spiritually. In other words, our deepest thoughts and outlook on the world can directly impact our well-being and our daily lives in a big way.
Positive Thinking Doesn’t Mean Never Feeling Sad
Positive thinking is an attitude or mindset in which a person generally waits for or expects good or favorable outcomes, whether it’s about how you look at yourself, at others, or at situations you’re in. Keep in mind, though, that positive thinking doesn’t mean you never feel gloomy or pessimistic. It doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be angry or sad. The key to having a positive outlook is balance–making sure you’re not leaning too heavily on the negative side to where it’s making you miserable.
What Affects Your Brain Also Affects Your Life
Our thoughts are released as brain signals, and thoughts that are positive cause the generation and reinforcement of new synapses in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of cognition, and the amygdala, which regulates emotion, work together in a framework to mediate emotional influences on cognitive processes. As a result, we experience increased brain functioning.
On the other hand, a heavier focus on the negative can slow your brain down, hindering one’s emotional wellness. Things like rumination on the past and situations you can’t change, or constant fear and worrying about the future can dim your brain’s functioning, as it leaves no space for pleasurable thoughts. Again, balance is key for your emotional wellness.
Signs of emotional wellness can be seen in one’s degree of resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. Another sign, according to studies, is the ability to hold onto positive emotions longer and appreciate joyous times. Having self-purpose and meaning, as well as knowing what is important to you, are also contributing factors to your emotional wellness.
Positive Thinking and Your Health
Having that balance between positive and negative thoughts not only makes you emotionally healthy, but it’s also believed to improve physical health. Studies have shown that an “upbeat mental state” might be linked to “improved health, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, healthier weight, better blood sugar levels, and longer life.”
Similarly, negative thoughts can lead to stress responses, which can hinder your emotional wellness. Positive thinking in various forms, including those with relaxation techniques, can help with stress management and improve one’s health.
When Positive Thinking Doesn’t Come Easy
Identify the Negative
Start noticing your negative thought patterns. Are you blaming yourself every time something goes wrong? Do you let one thing ruin the rest of your day? Throughout the day, notice the areas of your life you’re negative about. That way, you can try approaching those areas differently.
Sometimes, not-so-pleasant situations can have humorous aspects to them. Try to notice those, and allow yourself a moment of laughter at the situation.
See “Failures” as Opportunities
Everything we “fail” at, we can learn from. Try to view it as a learning opportunity.
Having a healthy diet and exercise schedule positively impacts all areas of health. This sets you up for easier, more natural positive thinking throughout your days.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
Negativity breeds negativity. Try to surround yourself with positive mentors and friends who are realistic, but try to magnify the good, allowing it to outweigh the bad.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
This also means overcoming negative self-talk. It may feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first, but its long term effects are valuable. Here’s the best rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else. If you do think something negative, look at it rationally and respond with positive things about yourself, as well as gratitude.
Start Off Positive
While waking up is hard early in the morning, try to start your day with a positive affirmation, whether it’s reading quotes or self meditation.
Live in the Present
It’s true; the present is a gift. Allow yourself to really dwell and live in the here and now, as it’s everything that was and will be. As you enjoy the moment, you’re freeing yourself from past ones and protecting yourself from future ones.
With that, I will leave you with this popular and meaningful affirmation:
Note: This blog was previously posted in Prime Women here.