You have heard that positive thinking can have such an amazing, powerful effect on your life. “Good thoughts” power. You need proof. So, exactly how does positive thinking reduce stress? What really happens inside your body when you adopt a positive as opposed to the negative way of thinking? Let’s take a look.
Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic
Some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management.
The Mayo Clinic reports that using positive thinking as a stress management tool can lead to the following benefits:
- You live longer
- Instances of depression and anxiety are reduced
- Your natural defense system is boosted
- You do not catch as many colds (seriously)
- You develop excellent coping skills
- A lower risk of heart disease and heart-related death
Understanding positive thinking
For some, it is difficult to believe those benefits can come about simply by having a positive attitude. And honestly, it is not really the positive attitude in and of itself which delivers those benefits. It’s the true and honest perception of reality that positive thinkers enjoy which reduces stress and then leads to those many benefits.
For instance, people with a positive mindset most of the time tend to see the world as it is. They apply no negative filters or preconceived beliefs about existence. They understand the mantra of mindfulness meditation – to focus on and live in the moment.
When you look at the world as a “now” experience, no pointless future-guessing and past negative experiences can influence your mindset and actions. Science has even shown that positive thinkers see more possibilities in their lives.
When you believe there are limitless options and possibilities and you look at the world through no negative filters, you are calm and peaceful, even in the face of difficult situations. Stressing over what may happen is one of the biggest worries of the negative thinker. This never happens to someone who fosters positive beliefs.
They do not waste time creating possible “what if ” scenarios. Instead, they see only the present moment with a very clear vision, and then they choose a course of action which delivers a positive result.
Physiologically, the process is very simple.
If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.
It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.
Positive thinkers view the world with a very clear focus, so their bodies naturally create less stressful situations. This leads to fewer heart problems, less stress, anxiety, and nervous problems, and healthier, longer life.