The Surprising Power of a Positive Attitude
We’ve all heard motivational speakers talk about the power of positive thinking or how a positive attitude can improve your life. It’s become almost cliché. And yet, so many of us don’t take advantage of this simple concept. Most negative people, when told about the power of a positive attitude, assume it could never really be that easy. But can it?
Positivity Is Good for Your Health
The science about the negative effects of stress on your health is pretty widely accepted. Doctors have observed physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, spikes in blood pressure, chest pain, and sleeplessness. Stress can lower your immune system’s ability to fight off disease, increase your susceptibility to depression, raise your blood sugar, and lead to inflammation throughout the body, fertility problems, and fatigue.
One of the most effective weapons we have against stress is a positive attitude. Our attitude allows us to perceive difficulties as either stressful and threatening obstacles or welcome and helpful challenges. If you choose to see every new experience or change in plans as a good thing, you’ll avoid the stress responses in your brain that wreak havoc in your body’s systems.
For example, if your boss comes to you with a challenging project that has a difficult deadline, you have a choice in how you perceive it. You can choose to see it as an opportunity to really prove your value to the company, or as a dreaded task that is destined to fail no matter how hard you try. Either way, you’re going to have to do the work. But a positive attitude makes it less daunting and often leads to better results.
Positive Emotions Help You Build Skills
While in the past positive emotions were assumed to be of little importance long term, today psychologists believe that these emotions can help you to broaden your awareness and build skills that will be useful long after the happy thoughts have subsided. Studies have shown that when we exhibit positive emotions it boosts our creativity and focus. In turn, we can then turn this focus into new skills and abilities that we might otherwise not have gained.
An excellent example of this is a child having fun during unstructured play. Because he’s enjoying himself, he’s more likely to be active, building physical skills like coordination and endurance. He’s more likely to enjoy playing with other children, which develops social skills and friendships. And he’s more likely to be curious about the things around him, which allows for exploration and greater understanding about the physical world he encounters. Later in life, all of these skills can translate to valuable life experiences, and personal and professional success.
A Positive Attitude Makes You More Attractive
Misery may love company, but company doesn’t love misery. Most people just enjoy spending time with positive people more than with negative people. People who are generally more positive often reap benefits in many areas of life. Romantic partners are more likely to choose an upbeat individual. Optimistic and happy people tend to have wider social circles. And positive people even gain career advantages because of greater networking opportunities.
Imagine entering a crowded room where you don’t know anyone. Picture the people you’re most likely to want to connect with first. Chances are, they’re smiling, laughing, or otherwise demonstrating positive emotions. Optimistic and happy people are simply more approachable, and consequently more likely to be approached.
Optimists Are More Resilient
Resilience is the ability to withstand difficult conditions or recover from traumatic life events. No matter how positive or negative your mental state, you’re going to encounter difficulties in life. But research has shown that those who go into a crisis or traumatic event with a positive attitude tend to come out of it faster and on better footing for whatever comes next.
This may have a lot to do with how positive people tend to deal with challenges. Most often a positive person will immediately begin looking for the opportunity within the crisis. They’ll search out the best ways to fix the problem, and often aren’t afraid to ask for help from others if needed. Negative people, on the other hand, can often get bogged down in worry and doubt and may not begin working through it until much later in the process. They often won’t ask for help because they fear rejection, or don’t want to be perceived as weak or incapable.
Simple Ways to be More Positive
Now that we’ve explored why you should cultivate a positive attitude, you may be wondering how to be more positive. Simply put, this is a matter of breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones. While breaking the bad habit of negative thinking is never easy, it’s something anyone can do.
- Stop complaining. While it’s natural to want to express our frustrations, complaining doesn’t actually help us in the long run. The next time you feel yourself beginning a complaint, instead force yourself to say something positive about the same situation. While difficult at first, you’ll find this becomes easier and easier with practice.
- Surround yourself with positive messages. Motivational quotes, inspirational t-shirts, christian shirts, uplifting music, and pictures that make you smile can all be helpful in grounding your thoughts in the positive.
- Be thankful. Spend time thinking about the good things in your life that you’re thankful for. Keep a gratitude journal or post on social media. This will help you remember to focus on the good things in your life.
- Practice random acts of kindness. When you go out of your way to make someone else’s day better, it can reframe your whole perspective. Science has shown that it also scores you a nice bump in oxytocin and serotonin, two feel-good hormones that produce a natural high.
- Avoid comparisons. In this age of social media where everyone writes their own story and presents their lives in the best possible light, it’s easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. The grass is always greener on the other side. And wishing you could have, be, or do what someone else has, is, or does isn’t beneficial. Instead, be genuinely happy for your friends while cultivating contentment within your own circumstances.