The Power of Positive Thinking

The simple act of thinking optimistically can improve your health and wellness

Credit: Flickr / Kelsey Simpson

The simple act of positive thinking can improve your health and wellness

Changing your thought patterns may sound silly, but the ability to think positively can really pay off

Putting a stop to negative thinking and learning to view things from a positive perspective can have a profound effect on your health and your work life.

The simple act of maintaining an optimistic outlook has been linked to lower rates of anxiety and depression, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stronger immune systems and a longer life expectancy.

An optimistic outlook can also have a positive influence at work, leading to increased job satisfaction and improved outcomes.

Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?

The difference between a pessimist and an optimist lies in how they interpret events.

Pessimists see positive events as temporary and limited, and bad events as permanent and far-reaching, while optimists see things in reverse. Optimists see positive events as permanent and far-reaching, and bad events as temporary and limited. Optimists also look for an external cause for events, while pessimists tend to blame themselves.

Optimism isn’t denial. It means taking positive action to overcome setbacks rather than accepting defeat. Approaching challenges or failures as learning experiences teaches you strategies and coping methods that can boost your skills and keep you healthy, happy and productive.

How to Stop Your Negative Thoughts

Optimism can be learned. Here are some tips to help you learn to accentuate the positive:

  • Set goals and write them down. Everything looks brighter when you’re working toward a goal.

  • Never assume you can’t do something. Challenge these beliefs. 

  • When you feel yourself crowding your mind with self-criticism and worry, stop and say “no” and then revisit things from an encouraging angle.

  • Tap into positive stories from your past, rather than constantly revisiting unhappy memories.

  • Banish negative self-talk. Learn how to recognize the things that trigger negative thinking so you can anticipate and redirect your thoughts in a positive direction.

  • Think about your strengths and achievements, and then write down some self-affirmations based on these observations (e.g., I am confident). Repeat these self-affirmations two or three times daily.

  • Practise reacting positively to new situations. In time, it will become second nature.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.