Ever wonder if there was a correlation between positive thinking and your health?
Wonder no more. There is a direct correlation.
Take into consideration that negative thinking contributes to chronic stress and a host of health problems. Advances in neuropsychology have shown that returning to the same thought, whether that thought be negative or positive, over and over creates a real neural pathway in the brain. Continually focusing on a train of thought is just like taking the same path through a field day after day creating a visible trail. So once you have created the positive or negative train of thought you will be more likely to go down that same path once triggered.
If the thought trails that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thought trails are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist. Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk forms the thought trails. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of a lack of information. (Source:http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950)
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
It’s not clear why positive thinkers receive these health benefits but it is likely due to the fact that they look for solutions, rather than the immensity of the problem. They are also more likely to take small steps to resolve the problem giving them small goals and wins that further strengthen the positive pathway in their brains. Small successes often breed more positive outcomes. Another 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. It is also thought that positive people tend to have healthier lifestyles.
So how do you tell if you are a negative or positive thinker?
Personalizing: Do you automatically blame yourself for anything that goes wrong in your life? Do you automatically think that plans are canceled and business deals lost because of the person you are and that you ultimately caused the problems to begin with?
Catastrophizing. Do you automatically think the worst? If one minor problem happens during your morning say you spill coffee on your tie do you automatically assume your day is the worst ever.
Polarizing. Do you think in black and white? Is there no in between? If you can only see something as good or bad without the benefit of giving a problem sometimes, or middle ground to show it’s colors, you will tend to think the worst in all situations. Or if a paper you are writing has to be perfect, or it is not worth trying, you are polarizing.
Filtering. You tend to magnify the negative and brush over the positive. You brush aside compliments, and focus only on the criticisms.
Now that we have identified ways that you may harm yourself with negative talk, let's walk over to the other side of the fence and focus on some ways we can harness the power of positive thinking and build our positive thinking muscle.
Building our Positive thinking muscle.
If you notice that you are thinking in a consistent and negative way. When you start to notice where your negativity likes to hang out, you can stop it. Most times it just takes noticing the negative thought to dissipate the negative thought.
Stop. If you notice a negative thought address it as such. Notice the thought, and stop. Take a breath and try to refocus the thought in a more positive direction.
Follow a healthy lifestyle. Try to eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Exercise and drink plenty of water.
Surround yourself with positive people. Positive begets positive.
Practice positive self-talk. Practice being kind to yourself in thought and deed.
Make a gratitude list every day. The more grateful you are, the more positive you are.
These are just a few steps you can take to gain a foothold into positive thinking and with it a wealth of healthy benefits. If you’re in the area and would like to set up a wellness check up, check in with our office. If you would like to investigate supplements for stress, and balance, you can learn more at our Health Living Shop!