Psychologically and scientifically speaking, there is a ton of evidence that our mindset and thoughts directly effect our lives.
An easy example of this is that it has been proven that the simple act of smiling actually releases the neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin in your brain, which make you happier.
Much like yawns, smiles are also contagious.
Smiling can also help ward off stress, as it releases certain neuropeptides that can help relieve stress. Studies have shown that finding ways to change your view of a stressful situation will help you manage it.
Psychology Today says:
“ Studies show that helping people see certain experiences — such as final exams — as demanding rather than dire, protects them from the negative effects of stress while delivering its positive effects, especially focused attention and speedier information processing. Changing the stress mindset not only minimizes the effects of stress, studies show, it enhances performance and productivity.”
We can see this in other ways, too. When you use stress-relieving practices like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, even some medications, you are changing your mindset.
I am an optimistic person, and because I am generally happy, I tend to see most situations as positive, or find the positive in situations.
My husband has even said that he has tried it, being more positive and looking forward to something versus apathy or even dread, and he said that it has made those things less difficult for him.
It’s not just me! The Mayo Clinic also says that positive thinking reduces stress. They say that there is definitely a possibility and some studies have shown that having a positive outlook helps you cope better with stressful situations, though they are not 100% sure on why that is true.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
The Atlantic talked to psychologist Michael F. Scheier about his research, which provided the scientific framework for exploring the power of optimism later.
“Dispositional Optimism” is what researchers are calling the idea of simply expecting good things to happen. There have been many hundreds of scientific publications discussing this, and the health effects of it, which are linking a positive outlook on everything from feeling less lonely to increased pain tolerance.
In 1985, Michael F. Scheier and Charles S. Carver’s published their seminal study, “Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies” in Health Psychology. Researchers immediately embraced the simple hopefulness test they included in the paper and their work has now been cited in at least 3,145 other published works. Just as importantly, by testing the effect of a personality variable on a person’s physical health, Scheier and Carver helped bridge the gap between the worlds of psychology and biology. After the paper, scientists had a method for seriously studying the healing powers of positive thinking.
And there are a lot more studies, scientists, papers, and publications that we can look at. But the real truth is found in yourself.
When you think positively, you feel better. And I happen to think that is a very cool thing. It’s free, it’s easy, there are health benefits, and you will see more positivity in life. It’s a win-win!
Originally published at medium.com