Studies show that two important personality traits, optimism and pessimism, can affect many areas of health and well being. Being a positive thinker has multiple benefits, including:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well–being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
If you tend to have a negative outlook but wish to reap the benefits of being a positive thinker, you can do so with practice. Eventually, your self–talk will contain less self–criticism and more self–acceptance. Practicing positive self–talk will improve your general outlook on life. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. That ability may contribute to the widely observed health benefits of positive thinking.
Identify negative thinking
Identifying your thinking habits requires you to be alert and mindful. Pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling, and how you are responding to people and situations around you. Some common forms of negative self–talk include:
- Filtering: magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all of the positive ones
- Personalizing: automatically blaming yourself when something bad occurs
- Catastrophizing: automatically anticipating the worst
- Polarizing: seeing things only as either good or bad with no middle ground
Focus on positive thinking
You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it takes time and practice. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive way:
- Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be kind and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.
- Evaluate what you’re thinking throughout the day. If you find that your thoughts are mostly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.
- Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn to manage stress (visit the HR portal – wellness – for stress management information).
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback.
- Laugh and smile, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in the everyday things.
Source: Business Psychology Associates