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Positive thinking takes effort to establish but it can become habitual.

Positive thinking takes effort to establish but it can become habitual.

Positive thinking takes effort to establish but it can become habitual.

Do you see the glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this question has many consequences for your outlook, the outcomes you achieve, the relationships you have and even for your health.

Positive thinking has many benefits for your mind, body and life.  Negative self-talk and thinking has many consequences in the opposite direction.  Being positive isn’t about pretending things are fantastic.  That is delusion or some call it ‘toxic positivity’.  It doesn’t help.  

A positive thought is more about focusing on what is good about or looking at how to improve a situation. It involves having an optimistic attitude and has a wide-ranging impact on your wellbeing and life.  Positive thinking means that you look at difficult situations in a more positive and resourceful way. 

A wall of negative thoughts is always on the rise in the mind – as the mind is designed to keep you alive and hardwired to look for threats.  Positive thinking takes effort to establish but it can become habitual.  Positive thinking is a  key part of being able to manage stress effectively and has many other health benefits.   If you have a tendency to think negatively,  this can be changed with consistent effort. 

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It takes three positive thoughts to balance one negative.  Develop more resourceful ways of thinking about situations. 

Benefits of positive thinking for your health

There are many studies that explore the impact positive thinking and optimism have on your  health. They include: living longer, lower rates of depression, reduced levels of pain and distress, enhanced resistance to illness, better physical and psychological well-being, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke, reduced risk of death from respiratory conditions, infections and cancer; and better coping skills during hardships and times of stress. 

People who are positive generally also exercise more, follow a healthier diet and are less inclined to drink alcohol or smoke in excess (Mayo Clinic)

How to be more positive?

The first place to start is your self-talk.  Try not to take things personally.  Avoid blaming or catastrophizing.  Avoid thoughts that generate guilt and shame. Don’t look for perfection.  Avoid making a problem bigger than it is. Relax more. A negative mind is like wild horses and difficult to control.  Transform your thoughts to positive.  Sit with yourself.  If your gut reaction is negative, see if there is an alternative way of looking at the situation.  Reason that out with yourself. 

The more you do this, the quicker you will be able to identify the ‘positive’ in a ‘negative’ in the future.  The positive may be that you learned something.  It may be that you are better equipped to handle that type of a problem in the future.  It might be that you are more understanding, compassionate and kind after experiencing a difficulty.  The process is simple but it does take time, patience and persistence. 

Next, look at the areas of your life you are most negative about and target them first.  Start small.  Check-in with yourself at the start and end of each day on this point.  If you are being negative, see if there is a positive.  Make  things easier for yourself by getting enough rest and sleep.  It is hard to implement and drive change  when we are tired.  Focus on your goals.  Practice gratitude and feeling grateful.  Remember, negative thoughts are also a form of distraction. 

People who are focused on getting things done rarely have time for negativity.  Surround yourself with good people and engage in constructive conversations. And be mindful of what you watch and listen to.  


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