I am an optimist. I can find the silver lining in every dark cloud, a ray of sunshine in a gloomy day, and even the smallest of positive light in an otherwise negative situation. Having this outlook on life that has served me well. Most likely you have heard all the sayings such as “See the glass half full not half empty.”, “When one door closes another opens.”, and other similar nuggets of wisdom meant to raise and maintain positive spirit. Have you ever wondered why it is important to have a positive attitude, to think positive thoughts?
Aside from just living a happier life, there are other benefits to adopting and maintaining a positive outlook on life. One of the major reasons you would want to adopt positive messaging inside your head is to improve and maintain your own wellbeing. Your mind has a great capacity to heal as well as to harm your physical body. Research done in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has proven this. Robert Ader, David Felton, and Candace Pert were scientists who did groundbreaking research to bring about the understanding that our immune and central nervous systems do not function independent of each other. There is a definite link of communication between the two systems. As the field of PNI grows, even more discrete pathways between our brain (what we think) and our immune system (our ability to fight disease) are being discovered. Truly, what you think has a great impact on your health.
In an article published in Medical News Today titled “Psychoneuroimmunology: laugh and be well”, the author Tim Newman gives some brief examples of the mind’s impact on health.
- Bereavement: stories of recently bereaved individuals dying soon after their partner are common. These tales are not just apocryphal. A study that followed 95,647 recently widowed individuals found that during the first week after bereavement; mortality was twice the expected rate. There is more to this than a metaphorical "broken heart".
- The gut: it is now fairly well established that there is a strong association between sustained stressful life events and the onset of symptoms in functional gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome
- Cancer: health professionals working with cancer patients know only too well that a patient's outlook and their quantity and quality of psychological support can hugely impact the outcome of their disease
- HIV (human immunodeficiency virus): studies have found significant evidence that elevated levels of stress and diminished social support accelerates the progression of HIV infection
- Skin complaints: psoriasis, eczema and asthma are all known to have psychological aspects to them. A stressful day at the office can have you scratching as you reach for the asthma pump
- Wound healing: the speed at which a surgical patient heals has been linked to psychological factors. For instance, increased levels of fear or distress before surgery have been associated with worse outcomes, including longer stays in the hospital, more postoperative complications and higher rates of re-hospitalization. In one study on patients with chronic lower leg wounds, those who reported the highest levels of depression and anxiety showed significantly delayed healing.
Since our mind and what we think plays such an important role in our health, it is important to keep your thoughts positive and optimistic, rather than negative. Negative thoughts tell the body to expect the worst and to give up. Where as a positive mind signals the body to begin its healing process and accept whatever healing protocol is being offered to the body. Individuals who have a positive attitude will feel the impact on their health through lack of illness and overall increased wellbeing. The Mayo Clinic suggests that many health benefits have been influenced by a positive attitude, including increased life span, increased resistance to the common cold, lower rates of depression, increased cardiovascular health, reduced stress, and overall physical and mental vigor.
There are even more benefits to living a life of positivity such as providing a sense of fulfillment and inner peace, boosting self-esteem and confidence, and improved work experience. Having a happy and optimistic outlook on life gives an individual a sense of security and acceptance. This allows one to acquire inner-peace and a feeling of contentment leading to a life that offers a sense of fulfillment. Individuals that portray optimistic qualities and spread happy vibes, typically find themselves being readily accepted by peers and colleagues. In fact studies show that people gravitate to those who exude positivity as it makes them feel better. This builds self-esteem and strengthens confidence in individuals that maintain a positive attitude. Optimists in the work place tend to feel more empowered, work better with others, look for opportunities rather than pitfalls, and are more likely to demonstrate leadership skills. All of this makes them a better asset creating job security.
So what can you do if you are a “negative ninny” and would like to adopt a more stress free life by using the power of positivity? Can you change your pessimistic ways and become more positive in outlook? The answer is, yes you can! Lindsay Holmes in her article “6 Tricks to Becoming a More Positive Thinker” outlines six ideas to consider when developing a more positive attitude.
- Don’t be a Pollyanna: Become a realistic optimist. Many people think that having a positive attitude means looking at situations through the proverbial “rose colored glasses” and not seeing the negative aspects. This is not true. A realistic optimist sees both sides, but chooses to focus their thoughts and energy on the positive rather than the negative.
- Practice awareness: It is believed that much of our negative thoughts are not conscious. Positive thinkers are aware of their negative thoughts and squash them before they can take root. So notice that negative self-speak and dispel it. Become more aware!
- Avoid labeling your thoughts: The key to this is to let go of judgment. Try not to label things as good or bad so quickly, as often happens in our society. Practice mindfulness so that you can become more able to recognize what it is that is going through your mind and then address it. Know that your thoughts are just thoughts and not necessarily facts.
- Feed your positivity: Like with anything else, you only get better at something when you spend time doing it. Increase positive feelings and thoughts through meditation, journaling, spending time with family or friends who uplift you, and engaging in activities that create a positive feeling within. Increase in positive feelings will bring about an increase in positive thinking.
- Engage in uplifting conversations with yourself: Even the most positive person will have moments of negative self-speak. The difference lies in what they do with those moments. Positive thinkers tend to take negative self-speak and refocus their mind on doing something about it. So when you find yourself engaging in such behavior, uplift yourself by changing that negativity into something actionable.
- Surround yourself with positive people: Probably the best way to become a positive thinker is to be in environment and around people who have a positive attitude. Stressful people and toxic environments will impact an individual and alter a person’s thought process. Luckily happy feelings and attitudes are just as contagious. If you find yourself in a negative situation or with toxic minded people that you can’t avoid, try being the one who is positive and happy. You may find that your happy vibes make the difference and changes the environment.
There is so much negativity in our society, both real and fictional. All of that bombards our mind doing damage to our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. I believe that the one best thing a person can do to increase and maintain wellbeing on all levels is to lead a life of positivity. Our minds are very powerful, so lets have it work to our advantage rather than our disadvantage. Fill your heart with light, infuse your mind with positive thoughts, keep smiling, and make the decision that every day is a day to have a good day!
Love and Light,
.Lisa Huppert is a gifted Psychic Medium, Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Healer and Master Teacher, Tibetan Bowl Sound Healer, writer, and multimedia artist. She holds a MA in Integrated Health and Healing from The Graduate Institute, a MS in Language Arts, as well as BS in Special Education & Elementary Education. Lisa is a certified Holistic Stress Management Instructor as well as a SoulCollage® facilitator. She is co-owner of Serenity Grove Wellness Center, LLC. 866-528-4355 serenitygrovecenter.com serenity email@example.com
Inspiration and information for this blog post was gathered from:
My own experiences and learning
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/12/12/positive-thinking-day-steps_n_5810744.html, 6 Tricks to Becoming a Positive Thinker by Lindsay Holmes
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/positive-thinking_b_3512202.html, The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work by James Clear
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305921.php, Psychoneuroimmunology: laugh and be well by Tim Newman
http://www.livestrong.com/article/166436-examples-of-a-positive-attitude/, The Importance of Positive Attitude to Health by Alia Butler
Photo credit to Kelly Huppert, my daughter and inspiration.