What Is Positive Thinking?
Positivity is defined as the practice of being optimistic in attitude. It's the opposite of negativity, which is the tendency to see the "glass half empty" with a mental attitude focused on challenges, obstacles, and failures.
Being positive isn't about pretending that everything is okay and that suffering doesn't exist in the world; instead, it's about having the mindset that negative emotions are not inherently bad, that they won't last forever, and that they can be controlled and even benefited from.
What Are The Beneficial Effects Of Being More Positive?
A positive attitude tends to create a feedback loop in which it sparks even more positivity and happiness.
When you make an effort to draw your attention to things that are going well and sources of joy in your life, you're likely to expect these things to continue into the future.
This means that positivity can make you feel more content, hopeful, open-minded, and confident — while also less insecure, anxious, and envious of others.
Some call this the "law of attraction," meaning you tend to attract whatever you believe. If you believe that the world is a good place and that you're worthy of happiness, you're more likely to experience this and make it real.
Another way to describe this concept: "energy flows where attention goes," so what you focus on and expect to happen is likely to become true.
Studies show that a positive mindset can buffer against depression and anxiety and is associated with benefits including:
- Stronger relationships and less loneliness (since people tend to enjoy the company of others who are positive in nature)
- Better regulation of emotions, which leads to better decision making and seeing more possibilities in your life
- Longer lifespan and better health, since positivity protects against negative effects of stress
- Higher self-esteem and greater likelihood of taking chances that can improve your life
3 Ways To Practice Positive Thinking
Gratitude is all about appreciating what you already have — including your health, success, knowledge, job, friends, family, and so on. This takes the focus off of what you lack or what you're jealous of others for.
Making an effort to be more grateful every day increases how much joy you feel and can almost instantly make you feel happier. It also encourages you to be present because it puts you in the habit of looking for positive things as they're unfolding.
There are lots of ways to practice gratitude, including:
- Keeping a gratitude list that you write every day, even for 1-2 minutes, as you list anything that went well or made you smile.
- Journaling for longer about events and people in your life that make you happy, or even writing notes of appreciation to others.
- Taking pictures often of things that make you happy or finding other ways to document meaningful experiences and relationships, such as via art, videos, etc.
Positive Self-Talk And Affirmations
The thoughts you have about yourself, your worth, and your capabilities will affect your actions in life. For example, if you believe that you're a worthy candidate for a job, that you listen well, and that you have a lot of value to offer an employer, you're more likely to nail an interview and get a job that you want.
You can boost your self-esteem by learning to speak kindly to yourself, just like you would to a friend. You do this by replacing negative self-talk with positive, reassuring words.
Try first writing down 10 to 20 character traits that you love about yourself. These could include how responsible, compassionate, funny, reliable, hard-working you are, etc.
Keep adding to this list regularly when you recognize parts of your personality that are improving. Read this list often and make an effort for your actions to consistently line up with the traits that you already value.
Then, create 3 to 5 affirmations that you can repeat to yourself often when you're feeling down. These are used to encourage and motivate you at times you're feeling defeated or insecure. Here are some affirmation examples, which you can recite 5+ times daily to yourself:
- I am strong and always overcome hardships.
- I'm a great friend and always show up for people I love.
- I can learn from mistakes and come back even stronger.
- I take responsibility for my actions and choose to grow from these lessons.
- I can't control everything, but I can control my reaction.
Having a lighthearted outlook on life can go a long way in improving your relationships and self-esteem. If you can learn to look on the bright side of things and see the humor even in negative experiences, you'll be buffered from many of the negative effects of stress.
You can use humor to your advantage by laughing at yourself when you make mistakes instead of taking yourself too seriously. You can also practice recognizing that no one is perfect and that people are always doing unwise things, often in ways that are actually pretty funny.
Laughing often, frequently smiling, standing upright, and staying warm and friendly towards those around you all keep you open to positive experiences.