What Exactly is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking does not mean going through life ignoring unpleasant situations or situations that make you uncomfortable. Mayo Clinic explains that, at its core, positive thinking is taking a more positive and productive approach to all situations in life. Instead of letting an unpleasant event ruin your day, you try to find a positive and focus on that. If you can’t find a positive, then you decide to focus on what you can learn from it instead of blaming yourself or others.

Benefits of a Positive Attitude

Mayo Clinic research has proven that a positive attitude leads to a healthier life. Optimists have stronger immune systems, lower levels of cardiovascular disease and a longer life span when compared to pessimists. A positive outlook is not only good for your health, but it also improves productivity and performance at work and in your everyday life. It isn’t completely clear why people with a positive attitude experience healthier, longer lives, however researchers believe it is because being positive allows you to better cope with stress. This, in turn, reduces the harmful effects of stress on the body.

How to Achieve a Positive Attitude

Listed below are methods to achieving a positive attitude as discussed in the Harvard Special Health Report Positive Psychology.

  1. Focus in on happy moments. Many people let the everyday small, happy moments slip away without enjoying them. Remember to slow down and focus on experiences as they unfold. Think about why it makes you happy and hold on to that. This teaches your brain to look for positive moments throughout the day, helping to keep you feeling happier for longer.
  2. Cultivate mindfulness. This is different than just focusing on your happy moments. Being mindful is training the mind to focus its attention on the present moment, whether it is pleasant or not. This helps you feel more engaged in activities and creates a greater capacity to deal with hardships. It can also help people from dwelling on the past or worrying about he future.
  3. Practice gratitude. Try keeping a gratitude journal. By regularly writing down what you are grateful for, you go through your days with greater appreciation and take fewer blessings for granted. If you are ever feeling negative, it helps to read your entries and relive those feelings of gratitude.
  4. Retain your sense of purpose. Whatever change you are going through in life, it is important to maintain a purpose. This includes staying on a sleep schedule, frequent exercise, eating healthy meals, and staying in touch with family and friends. Try to view every change as a new challenge or opportunity. For example, many people feel a loss of purpose when their children leave home or they retire. In these situations, consider volunteering, coaching or tutoring. Looking for ways to offer your skills and help others will maintain both your sense of purpose and your positive attitude.

For more information, visit Harvard Health!

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