We’ve all heard the phrase “Think Positive,” yet, many of us don’t fully comprehend the gravity of positive thinking on our overall health. Studies show that positive thinking not only greatly impacts our mental well-being but also our physical health. Positive thinking is essential to managing our stress levels, which is really important for nurses and other healthcare workers.
One study completed at Harvard found that “women who were optimistic had a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death — including cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and infection — over an eight-year period, compared with women who were less optimistic.”
Researchers believe this is because people with a positive outlook tend to engage in healthier lifestyles and ways of coping with challenging times. It’s also because the power of our mind plays a direct role in our immune system’s health.
Where the mind goes, the body follows. The Mayo Clinic found positive thinking leads to increased life span, reduced rates of depression, less pain, higher resistance to illness, better mental and physical health, and reduced risk of death from infections. That’s a lot of positive outcomes from thinking optimistically.
Research also shows the subconscious plays out our thoughts. Therefore, negative thoughts and pessimistic views can actually come true because our subconscious believes these things are supposed to happen. Our minds don’t know any better when we feed the subconscious negative streams of thought.
11 Ways to Influence Your Ability to Stay Positive
1. Surround yourself with people who give positive reinforcement and encouragement.
No one needs a “negative Nancy” when they’re trying to remain positive in their thoughts. Steer clear of people always adding their negative opinions or those who focus on the one bad thing out of 99 good. It’s natural to have doubts or fears, but they shouldn’t fill our heads.
2. Utilize daily positive affirmations.
You can find quotes online or come up with your own sayings that help reinforce positive outcomes. Find a mantra that works for you and write it down, then repeat this phrase daily, especially during stressful times.
3. Believe in your abilities to accomplish what you want.
Having faith in yourself can make a huge difference in the outcome of an event or goal. Positive thoughts can lead to positive outcomes, which becomes a cycle. Much like athletes who envision winning a game before playing, positive thinking is a great way to get the conscious and subconscious minds on the same page.
4. Talk about things as though they’re already positive.
Instead of, “I hope to run a marathon in 6 months,” say, “I’m running a marathon in 6 months.” If you believe it, you can do it.
5. Visualize the outcome you want, and play it over and over in your mind like a movie.
Visualization is a really powerful tool in strengthening the outcome of an event. It allows people to establish a specific goal, recognize the desired outcome, and see how something will unfold in detail. A National Institutes of Health study demonstrates the power of the mind over the body by studying weightlifters. In this test, researchers found the physical exercise group increased finger strength by 53%, while the visualization-only “mental contraction” group was still able to increase their strength by 40%.
6. Have a goal, and share it with others to keep yourself accountable.
Find people who support your goals, and let them know what you’re planning. They’ll help steer you in the right direction if you fall. Plus, having others who understand your goals helps keep you on the path to success.
7. Keep other people’s negative opinions and two cents out of your mind.
We all run into self-doubt from time to time. You don’t need someone else creating more doubt in your mind. Respectfully tell people that you don’t want to hear their opinion of your goal if it’s not something positive. Protect your inner peace.
8. Celebrate your successes and milestones, so you feel proud of yourself now.
The time to celebrate your success is in the moment. Don’t wait for the next big accomplishment. Be proud of something you do each day (little or big) and give yourself a mental high-five.
9. Create measurable goals.
Saying “I’ll eat one more serving of vegetables each day for a month” is more measurable than “I’ll eat more vegetables.” Make your goals measurable so you can easily see the progress you make each day.
10. Look at new things as an opportunity to experience something new.
Instead of fearing new opportunities and focusing on the idea that you’ve never done something so it might not work out, give yourself grace. New opportunities can be a chance to grow in ways you never imagined.
11. Take chances.
Believe in yourself and say yes to the things you really want in life. Life isn’t a test run, so seek out the adventures you’ve always wanted and enjoy the ride!
When we believe we’re capable of doing something, we’re more likely to succeed. Maybe you want to work on earning a certification, return to school, search for a job change, etc. Keeping a positive mindset can help you attain those goals. Life is full of ups and downs. Enjoy the highs and keep looking up during the lows. Keep in mind that the only thing permanent in life is change.