How to Embrace Positive Thinking in Your Life — and Why You Should

May 30, 2019

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

That age-old question about whether you see the glass half-empty or half-full is an important one. Research has shown that optimists—people whose default reaction is to focus on the good and come up with solutions or “silver linings” to their challenges—live longer, healthier, more enjoyable lives than their pessimistic siblings. For some people, positive thinking just seems to come naturally. Others struggle, whether due to natural Eeyore-ish tendencies or because they internalized patterns of worry in their childhoods.

The good news is that anyone can learn to be a more positive thinker. It takes practice, but it’s well worth the effort. Here’s why.

Positive Thinking: The Benefits

The benefits of positive thoughts are real. Here’s how they can improve your health—both physical and mental:

  • Longer life span.
  • Lower rates of depression.
  • Greater immunity to viruses like the common cold.
  • Better overall psychological wellbeing.
  • Improved overall physical health.
  • Better heart health.
  • Better stress management and coping skills.

It’s also worth noting that people with a positive outlook often attract positive people with their upbeat personalities. That means that optimists are surrounded by good energy from others, which makes life more pleasant and helps nourish close relationships. Those relationships, in turn, help people stay positive—an upward spiral that helps make life better and better!

How to Be a More Positive Thinker

Want to embrace the power of positive thinking in your life? Try these tips to build your optimism muscles today:

  • Meditate: Mindfulness meditation takes practice, but over time it will help you become more aware of your thought patterns, which will allow you let go of negative thoughts. Try an app like Headspace or Calm to get started. 10 minutes of meditation a day can make a big difference in your life!
  • Practice Gratitude: Start a journal in which you list at least one thing a day that you are thankful for. When you’re feeling grateful, it’s impossible to be negative. Do it daily, and soon you’ll find that gratitude becomes a habit that leads to a more positive outlook.
  • Be Your Own Best Friend: Do you tend to talk down to yourself? Harsh self-criticism is the worst kind of negativity. From now on, make an effort to talk to yourself—out loud or in your head—the way you’d talk to your best friend: kindly, gently, patiently. Every time you catch yourself in negative self-talk, just stop and replace it with something supportive.
  • Exercise: Physical fitness can help boost endorphins as well as self-esteem, both of which will help you shake off negativity and embrace a more positive outlook. The trick is to make time for activity you enjoy so you keep at it—even just a short walk each day can have big benefits.

Not sure where to start? You don’t have to do everything at once. Just commit to one new habit this week, and see how you feel. As you master one pathway to positive thinking, harness your good mood and embrace another. Before you know it, you’ll be a bona fide optimist.

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