Positive thinking, too overrated in the mainstream media has also a negative side to it. Many success gurus are starting to believe that positive thinking might be overrated, scary but true. No matter what one says, in almost all the circumstances, it is still much better than negative thinking. Positive thinking not only paves your way to success but is also beneficial for your health.
So, why does positive thinking have two-sided effects instead of what so many books and articles on the power of positive thinking say about it? To better understand the fact, we should go through all the pros and cons of positive thinking before making any judgment.
Pros and Cons of Positive Thinking
1. A healthy way of looking at things –
Books and writings, spiritual leaders and gurus always concentrate on the power of positive thinking when it comes to getting positive results on your efforts. Positive thinking enables us to look at things the calm and sensible way, the only way to get a solution to the problems that we might have.
2. A source of a vision –
The mantra for success is that we have to envision ourselves being successful at first. The dream should be so real that it should be tangible. A Positive outlook on life enables us to do that, to see ourselves as achievers. It is only when we can believe in our dreams and visions that we will take strong action to make our dreams become a reality.
3. Mental health –
When we are negative, we tend to indulge in a lot of depressing thoughts and actions, which is bad for our mental health . Negative thinking means that we have allowed our guard down and given way for loneliness and depression to invade our minds and then lives.
4. Physical health –
Being positive elevates us to a plane of existence where we are free from health issues resulting due to mental issues like stress and depression. When we are optimistic, the secretion of stress hormones is significantly lessened. Stress kills so many people worldwide and is indicative of other illnesses as well. That is why being optimistic is important. Being optimistic cannot cure your financial issues or personal issues but it can surely give you an outlook where you believe you can clear the mess and magically you do.
Although the relation between positive thinking and good health remains unclear, but researchers feel that positive thinkers have enhanced protection against stress related inflammation. Another possible explanation is that positive thinking people are always hopeful. This helps them maintain focus and take better decisions on life and health matters.
Quite a few studies have also proved that positive attitude enhances life’s outcomes and brings in more satisfaction covering a spectrum of conditions. It is no longer a doubt that whatever happens in our brain affects our body. Pushing the brain to negative thinking severely alters the function of neurotransmitters. As a result, our body suffers.
Let us view it from a reverse angle.
Why negative thinking is bad for health?
· Reduces cognitive function:
A study conducted on worrying and non-worrying persons published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2006 clearly established that negativity leads to a significant cognitive decline. People lose confidence in themselves in every simple activity which is bound to affect their health.
· Induces pain:
In a 1990 study to establish a correlation between negative thoughts and the incidence of pain, 185 people were chosen. They were suffering from chronic ache from sickle cell anemia and arthritis. Subjects reported that negative thoughts not only heightened pain but also made them a mental wreck. Pain precipitates in pessimism which in turn makes it intolerable.
· Worsens depression:
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology after examining the thinking pattern of depressed college students report that negative thinking worsens the condition. It creates hindrance in efforts to control depression.
What are the effects of positive thinking on physical health?
The effect of positive thinking on physical health is a matter of serious study in medical, wellness and meditation circuits. It not only boosts your physique but also improves your intellectual faculties. Here we go with the benefits:
This is perhaps the most beneficial effect of positive thinking on physical health. Positive thinkers are more committed towards their life goals and put their heart and soul after those. Naturally, they are more satisfied with their lives and tend to be in better mental and physical shape. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that people with pessimistic attitude have 55% higher chances of death in the 9-year follow up time. The trend is more marked in men.
Strengthens immune system:
A study conducted among 124 incoming law students published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity supported the above statement. The students were asked to filled five questionnaires.
This was followed by regular immunity checkups through the year. Students who were upbeat in their outlook showed improved cellular immunity. On the other hand, the pessimistic attitude of students had a negative effect on immune response.
Reduces bad cholesterol:
Do you know that apart from diet and exercising, a positive outlook can reduce your bad cholesterol? This has been established by a study conducted in 2013 by the Harvard School of Public Health published in The American Journal of Cardiology. Middle-aged participants scoring “optimistic” in the test had good cholesterol levels.
Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases:
This clearly reflects the effect of positive thinking on physical health. The leading killer disease can be defeated by being an optimistic person. A study in support of the above was published in Circulation, a journal released by the American Heart Association.
Another study also found that people with higher levels of optimism had 73% lesser risk of heart failure. This can be attributed to the fact that positive people tend to follow healthy lifestyles and can manage stress better which makes a difference in cardiovascular health.
Who can ever imagine of such an effect of positive thinking on physical health? People would rather strive to focus on positivity to retard aging. This has been revealed from a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal who found that pessimistic adults over 60 years showed reduced mobility and other problems while carrying on day-to-day activities.
During the study, it was observed that people with medium or low-level enjoyment in lives are 80% more likely to have developed mobility problems. Being optimistic is the key to better health and long life.
Improves coping skills during hard times:
No event can leave a positive thinker physically or mentally shattered. According to the opinion of a professor of adolescent health research at the Murdoch Children’s Center for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, optimistic older adults are less likely to suffer from depression and other health problems. This is also applicable in teens.
Optimism also acts as a shield from substance abuse and anti-social behavior. Although, there are other factors to be considered but it has been found that optimistic teens can handle emotional and behavioral problems better. A stable mental condition always fosters good health.
1. Optimism bias –
It is a term to indicate that the person suffering from it is so optimistic that he believes no bad can touch him. Being optimism is good but when you start acting,s behaving and living your life without taking any precautions as to what may happen later, then you are suffering from optimism bias.
For example, a smoker knows the negative effects of smoking, knows that people can get lung cancer if they do not kick the habit at the earliest. However, this person becomes so blind and careless, resulting out of optimism that he believes that even though he smokes, he will not get the malady. The person doesn’t try to get rid of his habit and continues smoking nonetheless. Again, a person might not get insurance done for his house thinking that such a need will never incur to him and that he is immune. However, when disaster strikes, for example, a fire then that person is left devastated.
2. Refusal to face reality –
When we overtly positive, we tend to ignore the warnings and tell-tale signs of imminent dangers and problems lurking around the corner. We live in a dream world refusing to step out into reality , out of the safety of our cocoons. Inside our safety-net , we assume and hope that things are alright just because you are positive but instead they keep piling until they become a mountain of irresponsibility you never fathomed earlier.
3. Optimism without realism can be dangerous –
Unbridled optimism leads to dreamers who aside from dreaming cannot do anything else. Dreams are essential but without a plan they are just empty wishes. A little realism keeps too much of optimism in check and helps us to judge when to give up on something that is futile. Holding on is not always the answer.
4. Faith a substitute? –
So often we find people praying to God asking and almost demanding for things from God as a favor. They never try to put an effort and instead believe that the God will make them achieve what they want. “Act as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God”. We should be thankful to the God for giving us things that we want because it keeps us grounded. Faith can never be a substitute for positive action.
5. Not a magic bullet –
Optimism can lead people to believe that it is the cure for all their problems, that things will be solved if they have a positive outlook towards it and towards life in general. But alas! It is not so. Optimism cannot cure of us deadly and life-threatening maladies like cancer. It can only give us hope and perhaps the dream of a better life. That is why it is so important that people should learn to demarcate between the thin lines of optimism and reality.
Striking a balance between positive and negative thinking
‘Positive and negative’ is nothing but a point of view. To further elaborate, the so-called positive people have realized that all the negatives of life, including negative thinking, are a way to find the source of positivity. Being positive is a challenge and unless you are receptive, you will never come across the mantra for being hopeful even when the tide is the toughest.
Growth implies acceptance (broad-mindedness) of all that is good and all that is bad. Being entangled in a negative mindset implies that you are focusing too much on the dark shades of life, completely forgetting that there’s a bright side to it.
Remember, awareness is the key to transformation and awareness implies receptivity. When we are negative, we tend to grapple with bad thoughts, as if they are unwelcome visitors. They are a big ‘no no’ for us, and the consequential fight to do away with them depletes our limited reserves of energy. So, when you come across a chronically sagged face, it’s an after-effect of a ceaseless fight with the bad thoughts.
Understand the negative side of things
This way you will miss something ultra-special: you will miss the meeting with the dark. Unless you know the bad inside-out, how can you know the bright? So, the first step towards being positive is to drop the fight with the bad. Welcome the bad thoughts with complete awareness. Let them play their part, but don’t get influenced by them. From your inner core, just watch this storm pass by, knowing strongly that it’s just a game that’s going on. And once you learn how to welcome the bad thoughts, once you become receptive, slowly and steadily you will know that it was you, who was ready to make an impermanent visitor your permanent friend.
This is an utterly-reliable trick for being positive and it has never failed anyone. It has worked with millions and it will work wonderfully well for you as well. Therefore, don’t hold the negative, just receive it, and in that receiving, it will pass away, making way for immense positivity to engulf you from all around.
Remember, even if the stay of negativity is long, just be aware of it, let it play its own game and don’t be influenced by it. This way you will not be diminishing your efficiency to lead a quality life. Every bad phase comes to an end if you accept it in totality and let the positivity that’s queued up next to greet you, actually meet you.
10 Ways Positive Thinking Will Make You Successful
In today’s competitive global marketplace, to win we must outwit, out maneuver and out think the competition. The world changes daily and new thinking is critical to success in both one’s personal and professional life. John C. Maxwells, in his book How Successful People Think, reminds us that thinking is hard work, that why so few people do it.
How Do Successful People Think?
1. Positive Thinking is a discipline
Thinking constructively and productively about your life takes lots of trial and error. If you want to get good at it, you’ve got to keep working at it, building and improving as you go.
2. Use The 80/20 Rule
Focus your thinking on whats important. Ask yourself what the most important issues in your life are and focus your thinking on that. Devote 80% of your energy to the most important 20% of your activities.
3. Broaden Your Perspectives
Becoming closed minded in your thinking is dangerous because you’ll miss new opportunities and better solutions to the problems you face. To solve this, surround yourself with people who challenge you and expose yourself to people with different ideas and ways of thinking.
4. Reject Popular Thinking
Popular thinking is not thinking at all. The majority of people people act, hoping that others have thought things through first. Be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable if you are doing something new on your way to your success.
5. Plan Ahead But Leave Room For Spontaneity
Smart thinkers plan the smartest course of action to get the results that they want, but they also realize that some of the best ideas come from spontaneous moments and action. Always allow some room for things to change because you don’t always know the best course of action before you start a task.
6. Do And Try Different Things
Put yourself in situations that you have not been in before. This will challenge you to adapt and learn new ways of dealing with your new environment. Meet new people, read books you might even consider boring and challenge yourself in work.
7. Make Long Term Goals And Follow Through With Them
Too many people only plan for the day. Smart thinkers take time to plan out their weeks, months, and long-term goals — and then they follow through. Most people spend more time planning a two week vacation than the rest of their lives. Take time to think about your long term goals, put strategies in place and follow through with them.
8. Take Time To Reflect
To be able to look back on your decisions and the outcomes you got from them is an invaluable process that you must take advantage of. You can learn so much from your past failures and successes and use that knowledge to build on.
9. Say ‘I Can’ and ‘I Will’
Successful people fill their heads with confidence and positivity. Giving yourself positive affirmations throughout the day, if it is not something that you already do, is a skill that needs to be practiced over time to get good at. Every time you catch yourself being negative about yourself or something you’re about to do, correct it with a more positive and confident outcome. Give yourself a fair chance.
10. You Can Always Change The Way You Think
The books reinforces the notion that you are in charge of how you think to control the way you live your life, and this is a power that you have at any moment. Even though it may take time and lots of practice, you can change your thinking to get you more productive results and give you more fulfillment out of life.
Tips to develop positive thinking:
‘Sound mind resides in sound body’ is an older concept. ‘Sound Mind builds sound body’ is a newer one. ‘What you think and how you think’ do guide your health. It makes an impact, whatever it is negative or positive, on your body. So just, start thinking well and positively. ‘You are what you eat’ is an old fact, here is the new one, ‘You are what you think’.
The effect of positive thinking on physical health is now an established fact. Now how to move over to that coveted mental state? Positive thinking of a healthy person is likely to be developed by the following habits.
- Keep smiling. It lifts your mood. Muscles in your forehead are linked to the emotional centre of the brain, hence the suggestion.
- Practice yoga and meditation. Both of them help you connect with inner self and replace negative feelings with positive energy.
- Be in the company of optimists. They help you show the brighter side of life even amid the darkness.
- Solve someone else’s problem and you find a sense of victory and joy. Your self-confidence is reinforced.
- Make an attempt to sing. It lifts your mood, gives you fun and a feel-good sensation.
- Read to your heart’s content. Good reads bring in positivity in life. These texts are time-tested. They open before you the door to treasury of knowledge and bliss.
- Have profound faith in your potential.
- Set priorities of your life right. Once strategies and objectives are fixed you think positively to achieve them.
- Learn from failures as they make you wary.
- Set realistic targets. Don’t set your expectations too high that they are unachievable making you unhappy.
- Start smaller than you think. A small change in lifestyle or thought process won’t invite a resistance from your end. Gradually, build the habit and finally make it your life’s mantra.
- Nurture a good environment conducive to positive thinking and cultivating healthy lifestyle.
You cannot tap the power of happy mind unless you think positive. However, negative phases are inevitable. The idea is not to linger on to it. Focus on positive thoughts and there lies the key to success.