Is there power in being a positive person? The answer is, yes. Attitude is a critical component to overall personal success. Research repeatedly supports the influential power of positive thinking on your physical health, mental health and general well-being. According to researcher Suzanne Segerstrom, “Studies show that optimists are in general both physiologically and psychologically healthier.”
Our minds naturally tend to wander to negative thoughts. For some, this happens more often than for others. If positive thoughts do not come naturally to you, consider the benefits of increased positive thinking and make a shift to a more positive outlook. Read on to learn what optimism can do for you and how you can start cultivating positive mindset.
There is no questioning the link between improved health and positive thinking. A wealth of research substantiates this. According to Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “A happier temperament has an actual effect on disease and you may be healthier as a result.”
Numerous studies have shown negative emotions weaken immune response. One study showed negative emotions resulted in weaker immune response to the flu vaccine. Another, led by researchers from the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky, actually injected healthy people with a virus. Optimists had a significantly stronger immune response than pessimists.
Not only can positivity enhance your immune response, but the Mayo clinic also reports reduced risk of death from cardiovascular issues, depression and an increased life span. The mechanism for the connection between health and positive thinking is still unclear. Researchers suspect people who tend to be more positive experience less inflammatory damage created by stress. Less damage means your body is in a better position to fight off infection, heal and remain healthy for decades.
Resilience refers to your ability to meet and overcome adversity. It should come as no surprise that people who are more positive also tend to be more resilient. Supporting the theory that positivity enhances resilience, researchers have found positive thoughts can provide a buffer against depression and stress, two things that compromise your resilience.
Life is filled with adversity. Being able to cope with it successfully impacts every aspect of your mental well-being.
Positive thinkers tend to approach challenges by focusing on a resolution. They don’t dwell on frustrations; instead they determine a plan of action and seek advice as needed. Luckily, resilience is something you can cultivate over time. By nurturing positive emotions and building coping skills you can increase your positivity, resilience, and overall mental health.
How do you go about increasing positivity in your attitude? Martin Seligman, at the University of Pennsylvania, has conducted extensive research on the topic of optimism and how it impacts health and wellness. His research has shown people have the ability to increase positive thoughts using easy techniques that result in lasting changes. Begin with these 2 simple steps to retrain your brain to focus on the positive.
The first step to becoming more positive is knowing how to stop negative thoughts when they begin to happen. Most of our negative thoughts are only thoughts, not fact. Ruminating on them gives them power.
When you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts try taking a moment to write them down. Writing them down slows down the momentum of your thoughts and will enable you to be more clear headed as you determine whether they are factual. Statements that are absolute (using words such as always, never, worst, etc.) are most likely not true. If you continue to struggle with recategorizing negative thoughts as fiction, try talking with someone you trust and showing them your list. The truth has a tendency to come out!
Once you stop a negative thought, refocus on something positive. Choose an event you are looking forward to, a recent success or even an internal reminder of your abilities and strengths. It is important to have something positive to shift your thoughts to when they are negative. These two steps may seem basic, but they can be powerful and help you break old habits if you use them regularly.
Thinking positively doesn’t mean happy thoughts are running on a loop in your head. It has more to do with focusing on your ability to achieve and your willingness to work through challenges and failures. Consider the benefits to your well-being that come with a shift toward positivity and try utilizing these two simple steps. Let your positive frame of mind lead you to a healthier and happier life!
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Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City, serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the chief investment officer and founder of LexION Alpha.
Originally published on Medium.
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