When my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis nearly 28 years ago I found it hard to remain positive. We had 2 babies to care for and he was not able to work. I was stressed and very overwhelmed. The more I dwelled on what was wrong with my life the more overwhelmed I became. I started to be more positive and my outlook started to change.
Thinking positively doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore the less fortunate aspects of life. Instead, it means that you can approach the unpleasant situations in your life in a more productive way. It means that you can anticipate there being a good outcome, instead of fixating on the outcome being negative.
For example, instead of thinking about all the things you wish were better begin thinking about all the things that are good about your life. There were days that the only things I could put on that list was that I had 2 beautiful kids, and the sun was warm on my face. Instead of being upset that no one is communicating with you, you tell yourself that you will start the conversation with others, and you do it.
Thinking positive benefits your life in a multitude of ways. Below is a list of five ways thinking positively can help your quality of life.
Positive Thinkers Are Healthier – Not only do those who think positively feel healthier but research as shown that they are healthier. A recent Harvard School of Public Health study has found that positive thinking, such as self-acceptance and positive relations with others, is linked to improved heath health.
Another study had also shown that when a first-year law student was more optimistic, they could fight off infection more efficiently and could take fewer sick days as a result.
Positive Thinkers See Failures As A New Start – A positive thinker knows that a failure is not the end, but rather the beginning of something great. When we are stuck in a negative thinking cycle, we are going to fixate on negative possibilities and be trapped by the fear of failure. On the other hand, a positive thinker is going to be willing to consider the future and be open to new ideas, new experiences, and new possibilities, and is also going to be prepared to move toward those ideas expecting to experience great things.
Positive Thinkers Don’t Freak Out Over The Small Stuff – According to a study that was conducted at Quebec’s Concordia University, those who think positively produce less cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and when you produce less of the hormone, your body doesn’t react as strongly to stressful situations, by nature, being able to think positively means that you are less likely to be stressed out over things that would stress a negative thinker out.
Positive Thinkers Get More Job Offers – A study conducted by Duke University examined a group of MBA graduates entering the workforce, half of the subjects had a positive outlook and believed that their success was inevitable, and the rest of the subjects were much less hopeful and optimistic. Researchers concluded that the positive group not only were hired more often, but also enjoyed more job satisfaction, had higher salaries and were also promoted more frequently than the more negative thinking subjects were.
Positive Thinkers Are Better Athletes – There is no proof that a positive thinker has more muscle mass or a greater athletic ability than a pessimist does, however having a more optimistic outlook and using negative criticism to motivate action seems to help athletes excel.
A study out of Penn Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania examined the effect of optimism and pessimism on swimmers. The study gave swimmers a false time when they had been instructed to swim their hardest, adding several seconds onto their time.
Those who were positive thinkers used the negative feedback as motivation to get an even faster time on their next swim, while those who thought negatively performed more poorly than their original time.
If you aren’t an optimist, this doesn’t mean that you are sentenced to a life riddled with poor health, no promotions, and an unhappy relationship. Optimism is a skill that can be learned, which means that you too can reap the benefits of positive thinking, all you must do is put forth a little bit of effort.