Do you often consider the glass to be half full or half empty? That query has undoubtedly been asked of you several times. Your response is closely related to the idea of positive thinking and whether you have an optimistic or pessimistic view of the world.
In positive psychology, a science that studies what makes individuals happy and content, positive thinking is crucial. Positive thinking may help you manage stress and even has a significant impact on your general health and wellbeing, according to research.
It can help you overcome feelings of poor self-esteem, enhance your physical health, and broaden your perspective on life. This article explains positive thinking and the benefits it has for your health. It also looks at various methods you might employ to think more positively.
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What Is Positive Thinking?
What does positive thinking actually mean? You could be tempted to think that it means disregarding or glossing over the unpleasant parts of life in favor of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. Positive thinking, however, truly refers to having a positive attitude when facing problems in life.
Not all positive thinking involves ignoring or avoiding negative parts of life. Instead, it is making the most of potentially negative circumstances, seeking the best in others, and having a positive attitude toward both yourself and your talents.
Explanatory style is a concept that some researchers have used to describe positive thinking. Positive psychologist Martin Seligman is one of these experts.
Optimistic Explanatory Style
People with an optimistic explaining style often give themselves credit for positive outcomes and place blame for negative ones on other factors. Additionally, they frequently see bad things as anomalous and transient.
Pessimistic Explanatory Style
On the other side, people with pessimistic explanatory styles frequently place the responsibility for negative events on themselves but fail to give themselves enough credit for positive outcomes.
They also have a tendency to see bad things as inevitable and long-lasting. As you might guess, placing blame for uncontrollable events on oneself or seeing these unpleasant occurrences as an ongoing aspect of your life can have a negative effect on your mental health.
Though optimistic explaining styles are more common among positive thinkers, different persons assign events in different ways depending on the circumstances.
For instance, a person with usually optimistic outlook could adopt a more pessimistic explaining style in situations that are very difficult, as at work or school.
Although there are many factors that shape a person’s worldview, their explanation style—the manner in which they describe the events in their life—plays a significant role.
Positive Psychology vs. Positive Thinking
Although the terms “positive thinking” and “positive psychology” are sometimes used synonymously but it’s crucial to realize that they are different things. Looking at things positively is a key component of positive thinking.
It is a way of thought that emphasizes keeping a cheerful, upbeat mindset. A subfield of psychology known as positive psychology investigates the causes, consequences, and optimal applications of optimism.
Why is Positive Thinking Important?
Because it may improve both physical and mental health, positive thinking is important. People with a more upbeat attitude on life are healthier, more resilient, and less likely to pass away before their time.
Additionally, positive thinking supports increased sensations of happiness and general life satisfaction.
Health Benefits of Positive Thinking
The so-called “power of positive thinking” has received a lot of attention lately, thanks to self-help books like “The Secret.” However, despite the claims made in these popular psychology books that positive thinking and optimistic outlooks can cure all ills, empirical research has found that there are many very real health benefits associated with these behaviors.
Numerous health benefits, including the following, are associated with positive thinking:
- Improved coping and methods for stress management
- Improved psychological well-being
- Greater ability to fight off the common cold
- Improved physical health
- Increased lifespan
- Decreased depression rates
- Decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Positive thinking may help lessen old age frailty, according to a research on 1,558 older persons.
According to 2018 research in the Journal of Aging Research, having a positive outlook on life was linked to lower death rates across a 35-year period.
Positive thinkers were also more likely to engage in regular physical activity, abstain from smoking, maintain a healthy diet, and obtain better sleep. There are undoubtedly huge benefits to positive thinking, but why does it have such a significant influence on both physical and mental health?
According to one theory, persons who have an optimistic outlook on life experience less stress.
According to research, having more optimistic automatic thoughts makes people more robust to stressful occurrences in life.
High positive thinkers were more likely to emerge from stressful situations with a greater feeling of the significance of life.
Another explanation is that those who have a positive perspective on life generally have healthier lives. They could exercise more, eat better, and abstain from bad habits.
How to Practice Positive Thinking
Even if you might be more prone to having a pessimistic outlook on things, there are techniques you can do to have a more optimistic outlook. Regular application of these techniques might help you develop the habit of keeping a more upbeat attitude on life.
- Notice your thoughts: Start observing the kinds of ideas you have every day. Make an attempt to shift your thoughts to a more optimistic frame if you find that many of them are negative.
- Write in a gratitude journal: A variety of advantages can come from practicing gratitude, and it can teach you how to see things more optimistically. People who practice gratitude report feeling more optimistic.
- Use positive self-talk: Your viewpoint may be significantly influenced by the way you speak to yourself. According to studies, switching to more positive self-talk might improve your emotions and the way you handle stress.
Are There Any Danger in Positive Thinking?
Though there are several advantages to having a positive outlook, there are occasions when having a more negative view is preferable.
For instance, in some circumstances, negative thinking might actually result in better choices and results. According to certain studies, having a bad attitude and thinking negatively might actually improve judgment.
Realistic optimism, according to study, could be preferable. According to the results of a study done in 2020 and published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, realists likely to have better mental health than those who have mistaken expectations, whether such expectations are optimistic or pessimistic.
The study’s authors contend that optimists’ disappointment at having their lofty expectations dashed might be detrimental to their overall wellbeing. This doesn’t imply that individuals should try to think negatively.
Since studies show that those who have a negative attitude frequently get the poorest outcomes. Instead, it can be helpful to maintain a broad optimistic view that is centered on reasonable expectations.
Additionally, sometimes using positive thinking incorrectly might cross the line into toxic positivity. This includes focusing on retaining a positive outlook regardless of how distressing, dreadful, or harmful a situation may be.
When people struggle to maintain such an unrealistically cheerful view, it can be difficult to communicate authentically and they may feel ashamed or guilty. Positive thinking can occasionally lead to difficulties.
Though general optimism is important, having too high hopes might leave one disappointed. Unpleasant effects on mental health can also result from toxic positivity, which is the inability to accept any negative feelings.
Even if you are not naturally optimistic, there are things you can do to improve your ability to think positively. One of the first tasks is to pay attention to and concentrate on your own inner dialogue.
Developing self-awareness and becoming more aware of how your negative thoughts impact your moods and behaviors can be accomplished by engaging in mindfulness practices.
You may take steps to adopt a more positive mentality as you get stronger at spotting negative thought patterns. You can gradually learn to think more positively by actively replacing negative ideas with good ones.