The Power of Positivity: How Thinking Positive Can Help Young Adults ThriveDecember 3, 2020
When we think about positive thinking, it’s important to remember that positive thinking doesn’t mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things in life. Rather, it involves making the most out of any situation, trying to see the best in other people, and seeing yourself and your abilities in a positive light. Psychologist Martin Seligman, often frames positive thinking in terms of explanatory style. Explanatory style is how you explain why events happen. People with an optimistic explanatory style are more likely to give themselves credit when good things happen, but typically blame bad outcomes on outside forces. These people also tend to see negative experiences as temporary and not typical.
Positive Thinking for Mental Health
Johns Hopkins expert, Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H. found that “people with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.” This statistic held even with people who had a family history of coronary artery disease.
Knowing that a positive outlook can affect your physical health, there is also evidence that positive thinking is linked to better stress management and coping skills, lower risk of depression, and overall enhanced psychological health. For example, someone who practices positive thinking and has an optimistic explanatory style can reframe a negative experience. Maybe you’ve experienced a setback in your career or you made a mistake at work. A pessimistic person may dwell on that negative experience and feel stuck in the fear of reliving the mistake. An optimistic person, on the other hand, can understand that a mistake was made, but believes that there will be more opportunities in their career in the future.
Resiliency plays a large part in positive mental health. It’s what allows us to rebound and learn from life experiences whether they are positive or negative. Positive thinking aids in building resiliency by creating the mindset that there is always something to learn from any situation that comes your way. Resiliency helps you accept that change is a part of life, and take action when problems occur rather than just hoping they will go away or someone else will solve the problem.
Tips for Positive Thinking
- Strengthen Your Positive Memory: Oftentimes when we experience an embarrassing situation, we replay that moment over and over again. For example, at a party you accidentally call someone by the wrong name. We think about everything that went wrong, or what everyone else must have thought of that mistake. To turn this around, try remembering the positive events before or after your embarrassment. Chances are, the situation was only a moment, and there were positive experiences before or after. By focusing on the positive, you begin to train your brain to pay attention to those positive memories over the negative ones.
- Practice Gratitude: Life is full of ups and downs, but there is always something you can be thankful for. By practicing gratitude we find more meaning and satisfaction in our lives.
- Know It’s Not “All or Nothing”: All-or-nothing thinking is when we view a situation as all good or all bad. One setback does not mean that everything is falling apart. There is always room for improvement but it is important to remember that how you feel in the moment may not be how you feel overall. Allow yourself the space to gain perspective on the situation.
Trail Momentum Can Help
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