Thoughts are powerful.
According to research by Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University, we have roughly 60,000 thoughts a day.
Those thoughts can affect our brain chemistry.
When we have positive thoughts or feel happy, the stress hormone cortisol decreases and the brain produces the hormone serotonin, which creates a feeling of well-being.
It’s not surprising, then, that researchers have observed a strong link between a positive outlook and better health.
A study examining the health data of 70,000 women that were measured for optimistic attitudes and mortality rates showed a significantly lower risk of dying from several major causes of death in subjects who scored high for optimism.
Other research has shown that people who have a positive outlook tend to make positive lifestyle choices that result in better physical health, less stress and low mood, a stronger immune response, better coping skills, and greater energy and overall well-being.
Optimistic people often are more open to opportunities and new experiences, which can translate to greater success and income.
Being positive can pay dividends in myriad ways.
What exactly does it mean to be positive?
Put simply, a positive mindset is a constructive one. It embodies a belief that life is good and solutions can be found if you look for them and have patience.
While optimistic people can have a problem-solving, practical, and accepting attitude, they don’t deny the real pains, losses, and challenges we face in life. An optimistic and constructive mindset might have less resistance to pain, accepting it as an uncomfortable but important part of life.
A positive-minded person tends to have habits and participate in activities that amplify their positive feelings.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “positive” as: “indicating, relating to, or characterized by affirmation, addition, inclusion, or presence rather than negation, withholding, or absence.”
Positivity is inherently open and expansive.
How to Be Positive
To greater or lesser degrees, humans suffer from negative thoughts. That said, anyone can learn to think more positively and reap the rewards that come with it.
Here are five positive lifestyle factors that have been shown to promote an optimistic outlook.
5 Practical Tips to Help You Become More Positive in Life
1. Positive Self-talk
Our self-talk may need to be skewed in a positive direction. Research shows that even the smallest shift in the way you talk to yourself can make a difference.
We all experience negative thoughts that pop into our minds without our permission. Dr. Daniel Amen refers to them as Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). You can learn to spot them, question them, and produce a more accurate, constructive thought to replace them.
These are helpful questions to ask when you have a persistent negative thought:
- Is it (the negative thought) true?
- Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do I react when I think that thought?
- Who would I be without that thought? Or, how would I feel if I didn’t have that thought?
2. Smile and Laugh
Similar to positive thoughts, the simple act of smiling (even if you don’t feel like it) helps to trigger the release of the feel-good transmitters dopamine and serotonin.
In other words, smiling can trick your brain into believing you’re happy, which can then spur actual feelings of happiness!
Laughter is the balm of life, allowing us to relieve stress, especially in difficult situations. Humor can instantly lighten the mood and make things feel a little less difficult. Like smiling, you can pretend or force yourself to laugh, and you’ll still get a mood boost.
3. Practice Gratitude
Optimistic people take note of what they’re grateful for. This habit has been shown to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and promote resilience during challenging times.
It also helps to express gratitude and appreciation to others. Writing down the things you’re grateful for can improve your optimism and sense of well-being.
Taking a vacation can allow you to have new experiences and explore new cultures. This promotes greater brain plasticity and boosts your mental health. Even thinking about travel can boost your positive feelings, according to research.
5. Stay Healthy
Healthy people tend to be more positive (and positive people tend to be healthier). Practice the principles of good health and good feelings should increase.
A healthy lifestyle should include 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night; a brain healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and protein, and low in refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats; and the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, along with two or more strength training sessions, each week.
On A Positive Note…
There are many other positive lifestyle factors that can contribute to an optimistic mindset like playing, connecting with others, and surrounding yourself with positive people.
Probably the most important, though, is simply deciding to be more positive.
It isn’t possible, or even realistic, to be positive all the time, but aiming to have a more optimistic and constructive mindset at least some of the time will help to enhance the quality of your life.
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