I never really gave much thought to the kind of attitude I had going into something and how much it can affect the outcome of it. I mean, sure it’s nice to hear that you did a great job doing something, but does that necessarily mean that you need the compliment to do better? In the same respect, just because you have a less than pleasant attitude going into a project, doesn’t mean it will have a bad outcome either… or does it? Well according to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can actually do a lot more for you than you think. It all starts with stress and reducing your levels of it can help improve your health and daily activities.
As life continues to put barriers and obstacles in our way, one can find themselves stressed out if too much is on their plate. Due to the stress, most people tend to become pessimistic about how their day will turn out or maybe even take it as far as how their life will turn out in general. Take your typical morning from hell for example. You wake up late for work; end up hitting traffic on the way, and just to top it all off you spill coffee on yourself as soon as you walk into your office. A pessimistic person would attribute all of these events to not only account for how the rest of their day will continue, but hone in on the first mishap for creating the path for destruction. This way of negative thinking is called Catastrophizing- to automatically anticipate the worst. If you’re the “Ricky Bobby” type from Talladega Nights– that if you’re not first your last, then you are what Mayo clinic calls a Polarizing person. This means you must have everything perfect or else everything goes to shit. Have you ever felt like you’re always the last to be invited out or maybe just plain left out all the time? Then you are Personalizing. This is a person that automatically blames themselves for everything bad that occurs, assuming something is wrong with yourself that you weren’t invited. Last but not least are the Filtering folks. These are the individuals that you can complement all day till the cows come home, but they will only focus on their faults and ignore all the good they’ve done.
With all this negativity, it is kind of hard to imagine anything at all going right, causing individuals to become more upset and stressed. Research has found that stress is directly correlated with physical health issues like headaches, upset stomachs, back pain, insomnia, and even a weakened immune system- according to WebMD. Ultimately, a cycle of negativity is created and that’s not good to say the least. So how do we break the cycle? Well the title of this post should be a dead give a way, but let’s get into specifics. “Positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management”- Mayo Clinic. Managing your stress can lead to a much healthier life style, which is the type of chain reaction you want. One way to start this is with Positive Self-Talk. This does NOT mean ignoring all the crappy things that’s been happening to you and those around you, but that you don’t allow it to discourage you. It is having the mentality that the worst is over and the best is yet to come. This means being able to have a mini-convo with your-self, almost like a pep-talk to reassure you that everything will be ok. For all my Old School (the movie) fans; it’s kind of like when Frank freaks out in the locker room, screaming “Keep your composure, you gotta keep your composure”… but minus the freaking out part.
Now, for all the pessimist out there reading this; I’m sure it seems like everything is hopeless at this point, but look on the bright side- you made it this far into the article without giving up, so you must have some positivity in you. Right?! Let’s continue to turn these frowns upside down by utilizing some of these simple tips on finding your silver lining (courtesy of mayo Clinic):
- Identify areas of change- pin point the aspects of your life that you consistently think negatively about.
- Check yourself (before you wreck yourself!!- sorry had to throw that in there)-whenever you get a chance during the day, evaluate your thoughts. If most of them were negative, try to put a positive twist on them.
- Be open to humor- try and see the funny side in everyday happenings; when you laugh at life you feel less stressed.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle- try and hit the gym or at least be active 3 times a week. A healthy diet also fuels your mind and body.
- Surround yourself with positive people- you know the saying “Misery loves company”… need I say more?
- Practice Positive Self-Talk- Don’t say anything hurtful to yourself that you wouldn’t say to others. Basically, be cool with yourself and don’t hurt your own feelings. This is one of the most important to me personally- being encouraging to yourself. Instead of being your own worst enemy or critic, become your own biggest fan!!!
Realistically, someone who is pessimistic will find all of these things easier said than done, but with practice improvement is sure to come. For example, if you’re told to do something you have no experience doing, don’t fret. Think of it as a chance to learn something new, and who knows you might just be great at it after all. If you feel like something may be too complicated- tackle it from all different angles and make sure you recognize all your hard work and effort. If you feel like no one is bothering to reach out to you and abandonment kicks in, see if you can open the channels of communication yourself. Take initiative! The point is to practice positive thinking on a daily basis. No one expects for you to become an optimist overnight. Eventually the clouds will dissipate and the sun will come out tomorrow- as said in my best Annie voice. Getting a grip on your self-criticism will help boost your state of mind in a more optimistic way leading to a more optimistic way of life. Eventually you won’t sweat the small stuff.
Positive thinking has many health benefits:
- 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
…Now who wouldn’t want any of these? Today’s your first day of a new and improved stress free life! So start practicing thinking positive. Just like the little engine that could- believe in you and the rest will be sure to follow.