How Positive Thinking Can Improve Your Life
We won’t go so far as to say that positive thinking can cure cancer or even just the common cold, but that doesn’t mean that positive thinking won’t tangibly improve your life. While most people would agree that it is better to be positive than to be negative, few people actually put any tangible effort into thinking positively in their everyday lives.
It’s easy to be positive about the good things in your life and then to let your attitude lapse when something starts to go wrong. Those who really want to improve their life, understand the value in applying positive thinking at all times, even when things seem to be crashing down. Being a positive person is more than just acting happy in a bad situation. People who are positive are results and solution-oriented. When something bad happens, they don’t just sit and wallow in the badness of it. They put a smile on their face and get to work to solve the problem.
Why Negative Thinking Hurts Your Brain
You are probably familiar with the concept of the fight or flight response. This is a deeply-seated, evolutionary response that triggers us to assess a situation and make a split-second decision. We choose to either fight or run when we start to experience fear, a negative emotion. This response narrows the mind, giving it only one choice. While this response is necessary when we are actually in a life-threatening situation, negative thoughts close the mind to other options and possibilities, especially in those non-life-threatening situations.
When you experience sadness, disappointment or fear in your everyday life, you might shut down and see only one set of options, even though there are actually dozens of different solutions presented to you. For example, if you are quarreling with a loved one, you might be angry and stressed out, but your brain tells you that the only thing you can do is soldier on, continuing the fight.
A more common example comes in the form of your daily to-do list. If your to-do list is long, you are probably are already thinking about how long it is going to take to get it done. You start to become fearful or stressed out because of the length of your list. Instead of soldiering on and actually checking things off your list, you become paralyzed by the seemingly insurmountable list and do nothing instead.
We often get mired in negative thoughts. If you want to lose weight or even just have a healthier diet, instead of making positive changes, you might just berate yourself about how you are not exercising or not eating healthy or how little willpower you have. While all of these things might be the reality, dwelling on them solves nothing.
How Positive Thinking Improves Your Life
Positive thinking is the exact opposite. Many people believe that positive thinking is ignoring the problems in your life. It is actually identifying the root of the problem and making positive changes to correct that problem. A positive mind is more likely to see a wider range of possibilities and opportunities. You broaden your ability to see resources and to solve problems when you use positive thinking. Instead of letting yourself become mired in a negative situation, you are always looking for a way to turn something negative into something positive, because you would rather feel happy than continue to soak in negative emotions.
Positive thinking has even more benefits than making you into a good problem solver. Here are just a few of the other ways that positive thinking can improve your life:
1. Eases blood pressure
People who are positive thinkers are less likely to have high blood pressure than those who think negatively. Why? Because negative thinking perpetuates stress, which manifests itself as high blood pressure. People who think positively, on the other hand, have less stress, which means lower blood pressure, along with a reduction of other stress-related diseases.
2. Makes you more resilient
Did you know that being stressed depresses your immune system, which makes you more likely to get sick? This means that reducing the stress in your life can actually make you less likely to catch that cold that’s been going around. It also makes you more resilient in other ways. People who think positively are much better at coping with negative situations and usually have better outcomes when it comes to those difficulties in life.
3. Makes you a better leader
You are likely a leader in some sphere of your life, whether at work, in the home, or in your social circle. People who are positive are more likely to be put in leadership positions and they are more likely to do well in those positions. Again, this is likely tied to the reality that positive people are problem solvers who are less likely to be fazed by negative events.
4. Boosts self-esteem
Everyone wants better self-esteem. When you are a positive thinker, you think positively about everything, including yourself. You are more likely to be proud of yourself when you succeed and to use your failures as the learning opportunities that they are, rather than another opportunity to browbeat yourself for not being perfect.
5. Improves relationships
You’ve probably been around someone who is incapable of being positive about anything. They drag other people down and make everything about themselves. While there’s nothing wrong with have appropriate negative emotions about negative events, people who look for the good in others and in themselves are more likely to have functioning, happy relationships.
Satisfying relationships, improved mental and physical health, better problem solving skills and improved self esteem are each influenced by positive thinking. The next time you are in a difficult situation, take a minute to assess if you are applying positive thinking.