Most of us know on the surface that a positive attitude is a great thing to have. But when the reality of real-life takes hold, the power of positivity can seem like a fluffy concept. Is it really possible that your attitude can influence the outcome of things you seem to have no control over?
Think about how much of what you do every single day is influenced by your outlook. Things just naturally go better when you have a more positive mindset – even when things aren’t really going in your favor.
Say you got turned down for the promotion you were hoping for, or worse, lost your job entirely. You’re probably not going to walk out of your boss’s office door with a smile on your face. Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean you can’t be disappointed or even give into a moment of despair. Instead, it’s about realizing that letting yourself get bogged down with negativity only puts roadblocks in your path forward.
Thanks to the wonders of modern research, we’re beginning to learn that a positive mindset does more than open the door for new opportunities. The power of positivity does amazing things for our physical and mental health.
The Science Behind a Positive Outlook
Anectodical evidence about the power of positive thinking abounds. Chances are you’ve probably experienced a little of the magic for yourself at least once in your life. Science is catching up with what many of us have suspected for years – sporting a positive mindset might be the ticket to health and longevity.
“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” – Oprah Winfrey
According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers are continually exploring the health benefits of positive thinking. With what we’ve learned, it’s thought that wearing a positive attitude as part of your daily attire can provide health benefits such as:
- Increased longevity
- Reduced levels of stress and depression
- Immune support
- Improved cardiovascular health, which in turn reduces the risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease – the number one leading cause of death in the United States
- Improved psychological well-being, in part due to better skills for coping with the stress in life that none of us are immune to
- Improved overall physical well-being
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2017 backs up these claims. Their research showed a strong connection between higher levels of optimism and reduced mortality from many major causes of death among research participants. We’re talking about the big ones, like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even cancer.
Additional research from Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., a John Hopkins expert, tells us that those with a positive attitude are one third less likely to die from a cardiovascular event at any point in the next five to twenty-five years than their more negatively minded counterparts.
A positive outlook today can protect your health well into the future.
Does this mean that a positive outlook can replace modern medicine? Nobody is saying that. If you’re coping with a chronic disease or need to take steps to improve your health, it’s important that you work with your doctor to find the best treatments and solutions for your case. However, it appears your mindset about treatment and healing can have a significant effect on your outcomes.
What Exactly Does It Take to Have a Positive Outlook
The problem that many people have with adopting a more positive outlook on life is that they think it needs to be constant. The whole “don’t worry, be happy” concept can only take you so far when real life is wearing you down. If you view positivity as an all or nothing philosophy, you’re probably going to walk through life carrying more than your fair share of defeat.
“We can complain that rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses” – Alphonse Karr
Nobody is saying that life is all sunshine and roses but if you look hard enough, you can find something positive about almost every situation.
Is your career not going the way you planned? Maybe it’s time to reflect on what you really want to be doing and how to change your direction to get there.
Struggling getting your health on track? A positive attitude can help you focus more on the gains you are making and make you more receptive to new modes of healing.
Life getting you down in general? There are opportunities for happiness out there if you’re open and willing to receive them.
Take a minute to reflect on how your attitude affects how you perceive the world around you. Do you know how it feels when you first realize that you’re in love or achieving something that you’ve been working so hard for? It’s almost impossible to view the world around you negatively when you’re seeing it through the perspective of positivity.
When things aren’t going so great or your heart and mind are heavy with worry, it can be difficult to find the light shining through the shadows. Life is carrying on in the same way in both scenarios but how you’re perceiving it is drastically different.
What’s the worst that could happen if you looked for a glimmer of positivity in the darker times? Trust that nothing bad can happen from changing your perspective for the better. It’s ok to give yourself permission to be happy, hopeful and positive – even when it feels like things are falling apart.
The really good news here is that anyone, yes anyone, can adopt a more positive outlook and potentially change their future. For some, this can be accomplished in giant leaps while others will need to take baby steps. Both are acceptable, as long as you’re honoring yourself by trying to move in a more positive direction, no matter how slow the process.
Steps to Tapping into the Power of Positivity
Some of us just seem to be born with a natural inclination toward positivity. It’s ok if you weren’t. Embracing the power of positivity all starts with making small changes in how you perceive and interact with the world around you.
Each of us can benefit from nurturing a more positive mindset. Here are 10 simple ways of inviting positivity into your life every day.
Smile. I know, it seems to good to be true but something as simple as just trying to smile more throughout the day can help banish negative thoughts. It’s great if you can find reasons to smile, but if you can’t, even a few forced smiles can put you in a better mood.
Put a spin on negativity. We all fall prey to negative thoughts from time to time. The next time one enters your mind, try spinning it around into something positive.
For example, if you’ve been thinking that you’re never going to lose weight because you just can’t seem to put down the junk food, try reframing that thought into something like “I’m going to eat a big salad for lunch tomorrow”. Instead of focusing on the negative, you’re looking forward to a solution.
Switch out negative thoughts. What if you just can’t seem to put a positive spin on a negative thought? This can happen when we’re obsessively worried about something. If you just can’t seem to turn a thought around, try replacing it instead. Do whatever you can to push negative thoughts out of the way. Call a friend and go out to dinner, dive into a new hobby, go for a run, binge watch a new series, etc.
Take time for gratitude. At the risk of sounding cliché, take a little time each day to stop and smell the roses. Just a few minutes devoted to gratitude can help you focus on the good things in life.
Build a positive inner circle. Negative people drain our energy. Focus on keeping only positive-minded people in your most intimate inner circle. Surround yourself with positivity and eventually, there will be little room for negative thoughts or influences.
Protect yourself from sadness. If you have any negativity “triggers” in your life, it’s time to eliminate them. That sad song that always makes you cry? Turn it off. The restaurant where you enjoyed romantic dinners with your ex? Find a different route to work so that you don’t drive by it every day. The “friends” on social media that get you worked up? Block them.
Connect changes with larger goals. If you’re dreading making a change, even though you know it’s for the best, stop worrying about the how and focus in on the why. Instead of feeling deprived for passing on the cheesecake for dessert (an understandably sad event), focus on how you’re taking steps to be healthier for your children or to run in a marathon for that charity that means so much to you.
Focus on healthy habits. One of things that leads to negative thoughts is the feeling that we simply have no control. Taking steps to regain this control can lead to a more positive outlook.
One way you can do this is by focusing in on healthy habits. If you’re nourishing your body with wholesome, natural foods, exercising and getting some fresh air, you’re doing some great work in taking responsibility and control over your own health outcomes.
Banish the negative self-talk. The way we talk to ourselves can have a huge influence on our general outlook on life. If you’re telling yourself that something is too difficult, try challenging yourself to approach the problem from a different angle. If a change scares you, focus in on the positive possibilities. Getting the negative thought patterns out of your head is an important first step to being more optimistic.
Start today. Finally, don’t let yourself wallow in negative thoughts for too long. Sure, it’s ok to indulge a little but take steps to look at your situation more positively before self-pity or negative thoughts really have the opportunity to take root.
The power of positivity can do incredible things for every aspect of your life. When being open to positivity becomes a challenge, there’s one thing to keep in mind – no matter what’s going on in your life, you’re worth the effort and deserve happiness. The world around us can be challenging at times. Embracing a positive mindset will help you see the gentler side of the world while influencing the lives of others. The power of positivity is a win-win for all of us.