Positive Thinking: A Healthy Dose of Realism Is Key

While you know that positive thinking is good for your state of mind, you might be surprised to learn that it can also be good for your health. Research has demonstrated that optimism can have various benefits, from improving self-confidence and psychological well-being to boosting physical health.

What is positive thinking?

Positive thinking is a mental and emotional state in which you focus on the good and expect good things to happen. It means expecting happiness, health, and success, instead of the worst. So instead of thinking, “this is awful, I don’t deserve this,” you say, “life’s unpredictable, but I’ve managed to do well so far, so I know I can handle this.”

Balance, with a healthy dose of realism, is key to healthy positive thinking.

Positive thinking is not a magic pill that will make you happy and fulfilled. 

It's not a way to eliminate deep-seated limiting beliefs, like the fear of failing or succeeding. 

And it doesn't mean telling yourself you're happy all day long. You'll need more than a positive mind to reach your goals. You need to change your behaviors and try new actions.

How can you think more positively and realistically?

Even if you are not a natural-born optimist, there are things you can do to develop your positive thinking skills and reap the benefits of positive thinking.

First, internalize control.

Do you blame other people when bad things happen to you? Or do you look inside yourself for the answer? 

Successful people have an internal locus of control, which means they are in charge of how they think, act, and feel. 

When you think this way, you have a strong belief in yourself and a positive attitude that makes it easy to try again after a failure.

Second, take a powerful stance.

Do you ever notice that your body language changes when you're having a bad day? When you feel uncomfortable, you lean back in your chair, have trouble making eye contact with other people, and cross your arms. Your body shows others that you are uncomfortable, angry, or sad and want to be left alone.

Instead, adopt a powerful stance. Sit or stand straight, broaden your back and shoulders, and keep your gaze high and steady. And think big and strong. This powerful stance will encourage positive thinking.

Third, focus on the positives.

Strive to focus on the positives of a situation, not the negatives or what's bothering you. This positive focus is a choice you make and will encourage positive thinking.

Fourth, recite positive affirmations.

Stop negative thinking by blocking it with good thoughts. Use positive affirmations to shut off a negative thinking pattern before it gets out of hand.

Affirmations are positive statements we can say to ourselves to help us break out of negative thought patterns. When we say positive affirmations and go over them in our minds and hearts, we are more likely to believe them and see good things happen. For example, “I am strong,” “I can handle anything life throws at me.”

Fifth, practice choosing positive words.

People often find it helpful to write down the negative words they use during the day. For every negative word, write a positive alternative next to it so you can use it next time.

Sixth, open your world.

Yes, what you think about most of the time will indeed be what you do most of the time.

If you keep thinking about bad things, you'll keep getting bad things. 

But when you think about the good things, anything is possible!

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