Life is hard enough as it is without spiralling through a whirlwind of negative thoughts. Which is why developing the skill to see the light in a bad situation can help your mental wellbeing.
Most things in life are a mix of positives and negatives. The great thing about the human mind is that, just like an Instagram filter, we can choose which aspects we focus on. And in doing so, we can better control the base emotions we feel.
But implementing positive thinking is much easier said than done. And if you are used to focusing on the negatives, it could be hard to convince you to join the positive thinking movement.
So read on, and let us show you exactly why you need positive thinking in your life.
What is positive thinking?
Most people think that positive thinking means seeing only the best in every situation and making yourself believe everything is good at all times. But the reality of positive thinking is less idealistic and more of a choice.
When you implement positive thinking, you recognise that there may be bad elements in the situation you are facing, and that’s ok. But rather than spend your time overthinking the bad things you have no control over, you choose to keep your attention on the positives.
In this way, not only do situations feel much easier to confront, but also you’ll feel much more in control.
Can you take positive thinking too far?
Simply put, yes. Not everything is positive and expecting yourself to only think positively is unrealistic and potentially damaging.
If you believe you should only be happy and smiley all the time, you’ll feel really bad about yourself when you inevitably have a bad day (or week).
So remember that it’s ok not to be ok. You will have negative thoughts, and you don’t need to prevent yourself from dealing with them. The key is that you don’t dwell on them.
Six key benefits of positive thinking
Emotional stability and mental wellbeing
Negative thinking is overwhelmingly associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout. That’s because negative thinking tends to evoke worry and panic in us, as well as a feeling of being “out of our depths”.
It should come as no surprise, then, that reframing your thoughts to focus on the positives dramatically reduces the negative thought spiral before it becomes damaging to your mental health.
Improved immune system
Have you ever noticed that when you feel stressed or anxious, you also feel physically unwell? There’s a reason for that. In times of stress, our bodies release the hormone cortisol, which helps us to stay alert by increasing certain functions you might need in an emergency (like extra glucose for energy to get away quickly) and decreases function in others.
Which all sound good in isolation. But too much cortisol over a long time wreaks havoc on your body and puts It under constant stress that it can’t keep up with. This then leads to cardiovascular problems, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system.
It makes sense then that reducing one of the prime suspects of stress – negative thinking – will decrease our body response which in turn will improve our immune system and overall physical health.
It’s hard to get anything done when the only thing whirling around your head is a spiral of negative thoughts (they never come on their own, do they?). And if those negative thoughts are about the work in front of you, no wonder you find it difficult to get going.
When you are able to reframe your thoughts to focus on the positive, you’ll find tasks less daunting, and as a result, your productivity will start to increase. This is in large part due to the self-confidence effect in which allowing yourself the positive mindset to get a task done will boost your ego, which will then give you the encouragement you need to take on the next one, and so on.
When negative thoughts are on the menu, you bring a dark cloud with you everywhere you go. So rather than looking for the good in situations and people, you pick out the negatives. And no one likes to be made to feel less than, especially by a loved one.
When you are able to incorporate positive thinking, your whole demeanour will change. You’ll become much more pleasant to hang out with, people will feel supported by you, and most importantly, you’ll be able to appreciate those around you in a way you never have before.
For most people, positive thinking is a choice. You make a decision to view a scenario through one lens or the other.
It’s so easy to pick out the bad points in anything – they stick out like a sore thumb! But being able to take positives away from the negatives? That’s a skill. And it’s one that, once you begin to develop it, will bring you much self-confidence and determination. Not only that, but you’ll also feel a lot more in control of your life.
It increases your creativity
Creativity is a funny thing. It requires a “flow state” to truly show itself. Flow state is the period of time that your creativity takes over, and you move with it as if floating down a river being gently pushed by the current towards your destination. No resistance.
The thing is, to get to that flow state, your mind needs to be clear of self-sabotaging thoughts. And usually, the negative thoughts we focus on are just that. Self-sabotaging.
We often convince ourselves we can’t do it, it’s too hard, or we’re not good enough. And these are the enemy of creativity. So once you are able to see life through a more positive frame, you’ll notice your ability to get creative will skyrocket.
How to implement positive thinking in your life
It’s all well and good knowing just how life-changing positive thinking can be, but where do you start? Well, here are two of our favourite entry-level activities that will help you begin to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.
Learning to appreciate the smaller joys of life will do wonders to your overall outlook on life. And intentionally practising gratitude is one of the best ways to get started.
So, every evening, pick three things that have made you happy that day and that you are thankful for. It could be the lovely warm shower you had before work or the hug you had with your dog after dinner.
If you are more of a visual person, you can also try and take pictures of the things that make you happy and grateful throughout the day.
And remember, they don’t have to be big or significant for you to be thankful for them.
Mindfulness is about staying present and not letting your mind worry about the past or future. And this present focus will stop negative thoughts from spiralling.
Try doing a guided meditation from an app like headspace or calm. Or pick from an activity from a list of our favourite mindfulness activities.
Do yourself a favour…
Negative thoughts have severe mental and physical health consequences. Not to mention they stop you from trying to reach your dreams.
So, do yourself a favour and jump on the positive thinking reframe train. In a few months, you’ll be glad you did!
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