The mind is a powerful force. Trained to a positive mindset, it can help you heal from surgery, keep you from getting sick, and reduce the damaging effects of stress. Researchers are now, more than ever, recognizing the incredible impact of the brain on the entire body.
The phrases “see the glass half-full, not half-empty,” “every cloud has a silver lining,” and “look on the bright side” could be more than just meaningless idioms. These reminders to stay positive could be helpful to you as you pursue a vibrant lifestyle, eradicate patterns of negative thinking in your life, and regain your physical wellbeing.
You may be skeptical. Is positive thinking that powerful? Isn’t it overblown to sell self-help books and motivational webinars? Can it impact your healing and recovery?
“In order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision.”—Dalai Lama
The truth is, a positive mindset may be the piece you’re missing in your puzzle of health. Here’s why positivity matters so much and what you can do to keep an optimistic attitude.
The powerful benefits of developing a positive attitude
Better stress management: Stress is corrosive. It roots itself firmly in your mind, creating patterns of anxiety, negative outlooks, and physical repercussions.
Staying positive could help reduce stress in your body, allow you to cope with stressful situations, and mitigate its effects. Instead of dwelling on anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, positive thinkers will process and remove stressors from their lives whenever possible.
Stress doesn’t have to run your life. You are in control of the pressure you allow yourself to experience. Take that control back today by developing positivity and a relaxed mindset.
Stronger immune system: Optimism, or positive expectations for the future, has been proven to shore up the immune system to better protect against disease.
One study of law students measured levels of optimism for the upcoming semester with a questionnaire. Those who marked their positive outlook higher had better functioning immune cells than the other students who were more negatively focused.
Lower cardiovascular disease risk: Researchers have found that high levels of optimism could decrease the risk of developing heart disease by 30 percent. Positive psychological traits have also been linked to lower heart attack and stroke risk in people with existing cardiovascular conditions.
On the contrary, negative thought patterns can increase your risk of heart conditions, stress out your cardiovascular system and keep you stuck in unhealthy ruts.
Positive people tend to prioritize health: A more positive outlook generally includes a stronger desire to look after your physical well-being. When you can frame things in a constructive light, you start to see the value of looking after your body and mind. Optimistic people generally eat cleaner diets and exercise more frequently.
How to harness the power of positivity
“Every day may not be good… but there’s something good in every day.”—Alice Morse Earle
Harnessing the power of positivity in your life doesn’t mean being an oblivious Pollyanna, unwilling to recognize that some things in life will be hard and sad. There will be bad days. The bad days make you all the more grateful for the good. Allowing yourself to develop positivity and focus on maintaining a healthy attitude will give you the tools to thrive.
Cultivating that positive mindset isn’t always easy. Retraining your brain, defeating old thought patterns of negativity, and “seeing the bright side” will take time and a dedication to change. However, due to a fascinating capability called neuroplasticity, our old patterns of behavior and thinking are not fixed.
Studies have shown that the brain can still be changed with repetition well into adulthood. Meaning the more you practice positive thinking, the more neural pathways your brain creates, making this mindset your new normal over time.
Try these simple steps today to get you started on your journey to a healthier mind and body.
Note one positive thing each day
“One small positive thought can change your whole day.”—Zig Ziglar
This is a great place to begin. You don’t have to write anything down; you don’t have to change your actions; simply allow yourself to think of something good that happened today. It can be something as simple as a flower in a crack in the sidewalk, your dog excitedly greeting you when you walk in the door, a smile from a stranger, or a traffic-free commute.
Once you start looking, you’ll begin to see all of the incredible things around you and will start rewiring your brain to look for the good instead of the bad. This is a great mental exercise as you lie in bed trying to fall asleep. It will help give you a little recap of the day and allow you to go to bed on a positive note.
After you’ve gotten the hang of simply noticing the good, take it a step further and start to write down the good things in a gratitude journal. Looking back on this journal can be a balm in hard times that can help you regain your positive outlook.
Perform intentional acts of kindness
“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.”—Les Brown
Positivity and good deeds go hand in hand. To develop a positive mindset, you need to start thinking outside your own life and sphere of influence. Turning your mind to the needs of others and helping fill those needs where you can is a great way to boost optimism and confidence.
Studies have shown that objectively happy people showed an uptick in feelings of joy after performing acts of kindness. Start small by complimenting your coworker’s shirt, holding the door for someone, asking your grocery clerk how their day is going, or checking in on a sick friend.
These moments of intentional kindness will start to build up and will recalibrate your brain to start looking for ways to improve the lives of people around you, which will, of course, improve your life as well.
Focus on a healthy lifestyle
“You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body.”—Shawn Achor
Just as positivity can improve your desire to live a healthy lifestyle, focusing on health could help you be more positive. This cyclical connection between optimism and healthy living is powerful.
Eat an organic, 100 Year Heart Diet filled with vegetables and free of processed foods. Get moving for at least 30 minutes every day out in the sunshine, and reduce toxins from your life wherever possible. These interventions will give you more energy, boost physical health, and turn your brain and body towards healthy, positive living.
Surround yourself with positive people
“A positive atmosphere nurtures a positive attitude, which is required to take positive action.”—Richard M. DeVos
How many people in your life are a positive influence? Does spending time with friends stress you out, make you self-conscious, or overwhelmed? If so, you may need to reevaluate who you allow into your inner circles.
If possible, try liming time spent with negative friends and family, and prioritize supportive relationships that fill you with energy and keep you from negative self-talk.
You are not alone
Here at the Natural Heart Doctor, we believe in the incredible healing powers of the mind. Training yourself to prioritize and develop positivity will do wonders for your physical and mental health and well-being. It will improve relationships, help you cope with difficult situations, give you better resiliency to process trauma, and keep your heart happy.
Change takes time, so don’t beat yourself up if you occasionally slip into negative thinking. Be patient and loving with yourself and recognize the value of pursuing change.
Remember, you are not alone! Many resources help you retrain your brain, including guided meditation, yoga, trusted counselors, and various books to help you become a more positive person. Feel free to reach out to a health coach for support on your 100 Year Heart journey.
Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well
Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD