We have heard about the power of positive thinking since we were children. Many fairy tales demonstrate this, but perhaps none so much as the Little Engine that Could. The little blue engine chanted its mantra of “I think I can, I think I can” as it made its way over the mountain. As adults, this idea has become widely known as the power of positive thinking.
Positive Thinking and the Power to Change
Does positive thinking actually work? Some studies indicate that it does.
Science has not yet determined what the link is between a positive attitude and its effects on the brain and body, but there does seem to be a connection. Positive thinking is associated with a healthy immune system, increased attention span, creative thinking, and faster processing.
Thinking positive thoughts produces hormones in the brain that make us feel good, specifically serotonin and dopamine. These hormones originate in the brain stem, the most primal part of the brain. From there, they affect genetic markers and can even change the genetics of our brain cells.
Ultimately, this means that each one of us has the power to make positive changes in our lives.
How to Make Positive Thinking a Habit
Some people are just naturally positive, but those who are not can still use the power of positive thinking to change their attitudes. Developing a positive attitude is not always easy, and it is a process that takes time. Essentially, you have to replace old negative habits with new positive ones. There are many ways to do this, including:
Reframe how you see obstacles and failures.
Everyone has ups and downs. Some days, we see the glass as half empty. Other days, we see it as half full. It’s all about perception.
Change the way you look at your life by celebrating small victories. Did you meet a tight deadline at work or get all the laundry folded and put away? Did you pass an exam that you thought you would fail or pay off a credit card?
Think about not only what you’ve done in your life but the things you had to overcome to get there. Recognize that every failure taught you something, and each one is only a temporary setback. Be proud of your persistence.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Birds of a feather really do flock together, and who we choose to associate with affects who we are. So, if you surround yourself with unhappy, negative, or cynical people, you will probably end up the same way.
Instead, try to associate with people who are the way you want to be. Look for happy, motivated, and positive people who can inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
Recognize your true abilities.
Thinking positively doesn’t mean having false confidence in your skills or abilities but recognizing what you’re good at and setting realistic expectations. Humans are born with the capacity to do many things, but we all need training to master our skills. Even Einstein didn’t come out of the womb understanding E equals MC squared.
Mastering a skill or even just getting really good at it takes years and years of practice, and recognizing what your natural abilities are can help you find your way. Having realistic expectations and being happy with small victories are keys to positive thinking.
Get the ball rolling.
Positive thinking has a snowball effect. It’s hard to get started, but once you do, maintain that momentum and keep going. The second step is much easier than the first, and the third step is easier still. As you gain momentum, you’ll see that positive thinking has a ripple effect and will begin to affect every area of your life.
Don’t beat yourself up.
Many people have a tendency to be very hard on themselves mentally when faced with a difficult situation. Maybe you didn’t perform the way you thought you would or you weren’t as prepared as you should have been. Unless you can manage your negative thinking and be good to yourself, mastering positive thinking will be extremely difficult. O
Final Thoughts on Positive Thinking
How we perceive reality has a huge impact on our mental health. When you focus on seeing things positively, it influences how you understand and interpret what’s happening in your life and helps you make better decisions.
Changing the lens through which you look at the world isn’t easy. It takes a lot of motivation, practice, and dedication. Ultimately, though, human beings are the sum of their habits. Keep at it until it becomes second nature, and the power of positive thinking will soon influence every area of your life.