The Power of Positive Thinking: "Just Stay Positive."
Updated: Oct 12
Hey everybody and thanks for stopping by! I will be starting a series about the power of positive thinking, how it can impact your life, ways to change your mindset, and a mix of uplifting stories. If you are comfortable with it, feel free to open up in the comment section and share stories that you are going through in life that focus on current struggles or positive aspects. You'll be surprised how the community comes together and how so many people experience similar ups and downs in life. I'm so excited you've decided to join me, so lets get started!
What does positive thinking and having an optimistic attitude mean to you? How does it play a part in your everyday life? Do you ever feel overwhelmed at times and find yourself looking too much at the negatives? There are ways to train your mindset to be more balanced about the way you live and approach aspects in life. Like anything in life, it's about making good habits and sticking to them by focusing on the goals you want to accomplish.
A positive attitude affects everything you do from how you greet the person at the check out register to how you interact with coworkers, friends, romantic partners, and family members. Being able to create a positive change in your life and to be able to spread that change to everyone you run into starts with the importance of positive thinking. Everyone has that friend (or friends) that can instantly light up a room just by showing up and being themselves. This doesn't happen if that person doesn't work hard to make that a personality trait in their own life. It's a mindset that is worked on everyday whether it is the way they were raised or the fact that they push themselves to create that image.
Positive thinking is the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation. It can have a big impact on your physical and mental health. This doesn't mean you ignore reality or make light of problems. It simply means you approach the good and bad in life with the expectation that things will go well. Many studies have looked at the role of positive thinking in mental and physical health. There really isn't any downside to staying upbeat. Some of the physical benefits may include:
Longer life span
Lower chance of heart attack
Better physical health
Greater resistance to illness such as the common cold
Lower blood pressure
Better stress management
Better pain tolerance
The mental benefits may include:
Greater problem solving skills
Better coping skills
Before we put positive thinking into practice, lets look at some examples of ways negative thoughts may be running through your mind. A Bad Filter: Do you overlook the good things about a situation and get wrapped up in the negatives? For example, you may enjoy a fun night out with your friends but the restaurant gets your bill wrong and you leave feeling annoyed and frustrated, forgetting about the good time you had. Taking The Blame: Do you tend to take the blame for something bad or disappointing that happens? For example, a friend declines an invitation from you, so you think it's because they don't want to spend time with you. Predicting Disaster: This means you have one setback and then expect the worst to happen. For example, your car won't start in the morning so you think the rest of your day is destined to be doomed. Black And White Thinking: Do you see things as either good or bad with no middle ground? In this mindset, if things aren't perfect, they're automatically bad.
When you notice a negative thought, try to stop it and shift your focus on the positive. Think rationally about the situation. Your negative thoughts won't go away overnight, but with practice, you can train yourself to have a more positive outlook. Remember, you aren't overlooking the facts, you're just including those that are good.
Once you have a handle on negative thinking, it's time to play up the positive. Lets look at some ideas of how to practice positivity! SMILE MORE: Studies have shown that people who smiled while doing a stressful task felt more positive afterward than those who wore a neutral expression. You'll benefit more if the smile is genuine, so look for humor in life and spend time with people that make you laugh or listen to music that brings you joy. Reframe Your Situation: When something bad happens that's out of your control, instead of getting upset, try to appreciate the good parts of the situation. For example, instead of stressing about a traffic jam, recall how convenient and fortunate you are to have a car. Also use the time that you're stuck behind the wheel to listen to music or a podcast that you enjoy. Keep A Gratitude Journal: Okay, yeah...this sounds cheesy, but when you sit down each day or week to write down the things you're thankful for, you're forced to pay attention to the good in your life. I promise you that if you get into a habit like this, you will feel more thankful, positive, and optimistic about the future. Picture Your Best Possible Future: Think in detail about a positive vision of your future (career, relationships, health, and hobbies) and write them down. Set weekly, monthly, and yearly goals that are attainable in a positive direction. This gives you an image of where you are in life and where you want your life to go... and you'll be much happier in the present. Focus On Your Strengths: Each day for a week, think about one of your personal strengths like kindness, organization, discipline, or creativity. Write down how you plan to use that strength in new ways that day and act on it. People who do this will see a boost in their happiness and lowered levels of negativity/depression at the end of each week. Stick with this plan and the benefits of positivity will continue to evolve. With practice, you can add more positive thoughts to your life and continue to enjoy the benefits that come with the increased focus on optimism.
When I was young, my father used to say "Carpe Diem" each morning as I walked out of my bedroom. "Seize the day." I took that as a reminder to make the most out of the day ahead and make each day memorable in some way. My father and I also made a goal of saying hello to at least 5 people at school/work while also acknowledging them by their name. Dale Carnegie once said, "A person's names to that person, is the sweetest, most important sound in any language." That's deep. Part of positive thinking is making others feel good, and I've found this to be one of the easiest ways to impact your life in a positive way. Remembering people's names and facts about them go a long way to help brighten their day. You instantly notice a change in the person's reaction as they realize that even if they may not spend a lot of time with you, you've gone out of your way to acknowledge something about them that you talked about in your previous meeting; that you were listening and care about that person even if it's just a small detail. I promise you that person is going to view you in a positive light and even pass along to other people the difference you made in their day.
Later in life, I came up with a saying that I share with my family and friends. "Just Stay Positive" or the shortened version "JSP." To me, it isn't about going through life and forcing yourself to be happy or positive in every situation. Rather it's about understanding that life has its challenges (and can be a battle at times) and being able to utilize that powerful mindset so that no matter what you're going through, you know you have people in your life that will be there for you no matter what. Everyone has moments in their lives that aren't easy. It can be a downturn in health, a major injury, loss of employment, divorce/breakup, addiction, passing of family or friends, etc. These are just a few examples that can make you feel, in the moment, that there are no positive spins. How does your mind work when these things occur? Human nature needs the reassurance of how well we are doing and it's important to notice and continually remind yourself about the positive relationships and life events that YOU have built and accomplished and how you've evolved. I've also learned the importance of communicating the positives and negatives that you are going through to the REAL SINCERE friends and family members that you've surrounded yourself with. Being able to lean on that foundation of relationships you've built can also be a pathway to the reassurance and the help you may need, at times. Having those people that you can trust to get you through challenges and to help you celebrate the good times helps give life that healthy balance of positive thinking. Don't forget to be there for those same people as they have their ups and downs in their lives. I am lucky enough to have those REAL FRIENDS and family members that I can trust and I truly believe they feel the same way about me. A song that describes this perfectly is "Real Friends" by Kanye West. Kanye speaks on this topic with true sincerity and vulnerability and touches on the question of who do you surround yourself with that will be there for you (and vice-versa) during the good AND bad times of life?
Remind yourself everyday of the mantra "JSP" or "Just Stay Positive" and don't be afraid to share it with others. Everyone has people in their lives that love them more than they know. Reach out to those in your life and tell them how much you appreciate everything they mean to you. Now is the time to start making a positive change in your life and everyone else's life that you touch. It won't happen overnight, but working on it everyday, you WILL see POSITIVE improvements in your life.
Love you all and there will be more to come on this topic moving forward! :-) JSP <3