Are you inclined to see the glass as half full or half empty?
There are two ways we can mentally view any adverse situation and for that matter, life in general; it can either be from a positive or a negative mindset and the approach we take will frame the way we handle whatever life throws in our path.
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses– Abraham Lincoln
I’m not suggesting that you view the world through rose-coloured glasses and avoid or ignore any issues that confront you, but try instead to make the most out of a potentially bad experience.
Take a moment to think about your approach to life and your reactions to life’s stresses and strains and then ask yourself if you’re an optimist or a pessimist.
If you’re really not sure or you’d like a second opinion, then ask someone close to you, who will give you an honest answer.
It helps if you try to see yourself from their perspective too.
Positive psychologist Martin Seligman says optimists tend to see negative events as temporary and atypical, while pessimists have a propensity to view negative events as expected and lasting.
Negative thinkers will often blame themselves when bad things happen that are outside their control and don’t give themselves credit, where credit’s due, when they have a successful outcome.
Negative thinking can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you think there is nothing you can do to improve a bad situation, then you will likely do nothing and the situation will not improve, or possibly get worse.
SUSIE’S TOP TIPS TO BECOMING MORE POSITIVE
Believe it or not you can actually choose to be happy. When your mind is full of negatives, tell yourself that you refuse to look at life from that perspective. Try and substitute this negative mindset with positive and happy thoughts. Remember only you can make the choice to be happy or not and happiness is contagious.
Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln
Trudi Griffin is a licenced professional Counsellor with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counselling: Addictions and Mental Health from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Trudi says you need to be a master rather than a servant of your own moods and that you are the ruler of the kingdom of happiness.
You should not allow other people or circumstances to make you happy or sad. Nor should you depend on material possessions to create happiness for you.
She emphasises that it is impossible to change the world around you. So stop fretting when people do not come up to your expectations. The best course is to change yourself or at least adjust when you’re around the people or situations you do not like.
There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second ~ Logan Pearsall Smith
Positive thinking may sound easy to do but often it’s not. If you’re in the habit of putting yourself down to others verbally or thinking negatively about yourself internally then this habit will soon become second nature.
Be conscious of what you think and say about yourself and start identifying and focusing on all your abilities and assets. Then cultivate positive words and language when you are speaking to or about yourself.
Changing to positive thinking will help you adopt an optimistic attitude. You’ll be amazed at how many optimistic people you attract around you, when you start thinking better of yourself.
Making one small change to improve your positive thinking and sticking to it is far better than trying to change everything about who you are, which becomes impossible to sustain.
- Believe in yourself and your abilities and skills.
If you don’t believe in yourself then how can you expect others to do the same?
Building up your self-confidence and self-esteem will help you stay immune to negative thoughts and negative actions and give you more self-assurance to handle life’s challenges. Try and visualise the successful outcomes to your actions.
Tame your inner critic and start to challenge it and other negative ways of thinking or it can hurt your progress in building a positive attitude.
- Don’t give up when confronted by obstacles.
If you’re going through hell, keep going – Winston Churchill
If we didn’t have any problems at work, for instance, then we wouldn’t need managers to sort them out and we could all work autonomously and independently and live happy ever after but as we know only too well, that’s not reality.
One of my favourite sayings is;
A problem is only an opportunity to perform – Anon
Looking at an obstacle as a challenge makes you think about solutions instead of dwelling on the negative.
Your energy can then be channeled into recognising opportunities and being open-minded to solving the problem at hand.
A positive attitude has also been shown to boost your motivation and help you achieve your goals quicker and easier.
Problem solving also helps you learn from your mistakes and how not to repeat them.
Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward – Victor Kiam
Changing your attitude will change everything.
It might take you repeated attempts to change your negative thinking into positive thoughts. Recognise that change takes time and don’t give up when it doesn’t happen as fast as you’d like it to but be assured that with a little perseverance it will happen.
Think of building a positive attitude in the same way you would go about getting fit; start with baby steps and treat it like an on-going project that will take consistent determination.
If you can’t see the bright side of life, polish the dull side – Anon
US author and poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox was correct when she came up with this quote almost 100 years ago;
Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own
None of us like being around negative people, so make sure you’re not one of them.
Think about the things that make you smile, it might be a funny experience or a kind gesture from someone or a personal accomplishment.
Find reasons, no matter how simple, to make you smile more often and be open and prepared to smile at people around you. Smiling is an upside down frown and it can become contagious too.
Make a list of things you enjoy doing or things you’re good at doing and try to do some of these regularly. This will build up your reserves of positive experiences and you can draw on those at other times when you’re not in such a positive emotional state.
If music makes you happy then listen to music. You might prefer to bury your head in a good book or go bush walking or catch a movie.
Often we mask or suppress our negative feelings, instead, try talking about them with a friend or join a support group. It will help you resolve them and make room in your head for happier emotions.
Try listing all your problems and issues then break them down into manageable steps that will help you identify potential hurdles or stumbling blocks and allow you to brainstorm how to deal with them and hopefully resolve them.
No one ever goes blind looking at the bright side of life- Anon
Having a positive mindset can not only help us cope through any tough situation but it has lots of other benefits that have scientifically proven results.
Ongoing research has found that positive thinking can help immensely in stress management as well as playing a vital role in your overall good health and well-being.
Thanks to the popularity of self-help books, the power of positive thinking has been recognised as an important remedy for our physiological well-being. Now first-hand research has found that there are many tangible health benefits linked to being an optimist with a positive attitude.
According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking is linked to a wide range of health benefits including:
- Longer life span
- Less stress
- Lower rates of depression
- Increased resistance to the common cold
- Better stress management and coping skills
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
- Increased physical well-being
- Better psychological health
One study of 1,558 older adults found that positive thinking could also reduce frailty during old age.
There are many theories around why exactly positive thinking has such a strong impact on our physical and mental health.
It’s thought that people who think positively tend to be less affected by stress, tend to live healthier lives in general by exercising more and following a more wholesome, healthy diet and are more inclined to avoid unhealthy behaviours.
Positive emotions can also slow progression towards disease. This happens because positive emotions shorten the duration of negative emotional arousal.
Even several scientific studies have shown that people with a good, positive outlook are less likely to suffer from depression and they get sick less than the negative thinkers.
Taking care of our thoughts, is taking care of our health!
Some even say that positive thinking will make you look more beautiful.
Smiling, friendly people are somehow perceived to be more attractive and is believed to be your inner beauty shining through and becoming visible on the outside.
Dr. Tamar Chansky, a US psychologist, speaker, and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety, warns that while positive thinking is good, it is not intended to promote reckless behaviour and you should not try to use it to block out everything negative that happens in your life.
She says, sometimes bad stuff happens, and you will feel down about it. It’s no good pretending that you don’t feel that way because forced positive thinking can be counter-productive.
She also says we need to avoid what she calls the ‘developing disaster’ scenario (the ‘my life is a total disaster’ tape that plays in your head).
Dr Chansky suggests the best way to do that is NOT to tell yourself that your life is perfect. Instead, she says you need to recognise what has gone wrong but set it in context.
The example she gives is;
“Yes, I’m having a bad day, but tomorrow will be better. I will go home now and I will be able to think of a solution to the problem in the morning when I am less tired.”
Our actions are practical expressions of our thoughts.
I think the best example of the power of positive thinking is displayed in every clinical trial conducted in medicine, when half of the participants are given a placebo.
The ‘Placebo Effect’ is a well-documented marvel in medicine.
The Medical Definition of placebo effect, which is also called the placebo response, is the remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo or fake treatment, such as an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution is substituted for the real medication, unbeknown to the patient and can sometimes improve a patient’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful.
According to MedicineNet.com, the first scientific study of the placebo effect dates back to the pioneering paper published in 1955 on ‘The Powerful Placebo’ by anaesthesiologist Henry K. Beecher (1904-1976). Dr. Beecher concluded that, across the 26 studies he analysed, an average of 32% of patients responded to placebo.
This medical proof further concretes why we should always look on the bright side of life.
Whenever I hear that phrase I immediately think of the popular uplifting comedy song written by Monty Python member Eric Idle, ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, which was first featured in the film Monty Python’s Life of Brian and has since become a popular sing-along at public events including a live performance by Eric Idle at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
If you’ve never heard it, check it out on YouTube and you might find it has a positive effect on you too!
Take care…cheers susie
Susie Elelman AM
Author, TV and Radio Broadcaster