The Power of Positive Thinking
The phrase, “The power of positive thinking” is all the rage in the wellness world, and for good reason. In an article by John Hopkins Medicine, a number of research studies showcase how there is a strong correlation between “positivity” and health/life satisfaction. Positive thinking is shown to help boost our immune systems, speed recovery from injury/illness, combat depression and anxiety, decrease our likelihood of developing certain diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease), cope with challenges, better our social lives, and so much more. However, it can be extremely challenging to understand how to actually change our thinking from negative to positive in order to achieve all of these incredible benefits. It seems like there are plenty of trite phrases out there encouraging us to, “just stay positive” or “look on the bright side of life” without giving us real direction on how to do that. In this blog, we will put positive thinking into perspective and look to understand it better so that we can enact real and lasting positive change.
Toxic Positivity Versus Positive Thinking
We must address the difference between embracing positive thinking and getting caught up in what many are calling, “toxic positivity.” It can feel like a slippery slope when determining if efforts are toxic positivity or just plain trying to be more positive. An article by VeryWellMind, defines toxic positivity as "the belief that no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should always maintain a positive mindset"; toxic positivity is when we deny other valid emotions that are not so positive.
When we harness the power of positive thinking we allow ourselves to become better able to sit with our more challenging emotions and thoughts and gain perspective from them.
Harnessing the power of positive thinking does not mean that we need to be positive 100% of the time; nor does it mean that we need to expel, deny, or shame ourselves when we are not feeling positive. Instead, when we harness the power of positive thinking, we allow ourselves to become better able to sit with our more challenging emotions and thoughts and gain perspective from them. Giving ourselves enough time to process our negative thoughts and feelings is essential, and positive thinking can help us move through these times with more ease. With the right mindset, adversity leads to growth. With the wrong mindset, adversity leads to more adversity.
Repetition Runs The Mind
Changing our mindset is challenging for a number of reasons, but that does not mean it is by any means impossible. While the repetition of negative thinking can lead to more negative thinking patterns, the same is true for the repetition of positive thinking. The more you catch yourself in negative thinking and work consistently to question and change those thoughts, the easier it becomes to break out of unhealthy patterns and develop newer, more uplifting ones. Making the mind more positive is like strengthening a muscle or learning a new language; you need to practice and put in work consistently to notice a lasting difference. You may have roadblocks, but that’s ok. As long as you continue to make an effort and believe in your ability to change your thinking, then you will!
The more you practice focusing on things you are grateful for and ways you can learn from challenging situations, the more you will grow in gratitude and in wisdom.
The more you focus on something, the more you will see it and receive it. So whenever you notice yourself thinking or saying something negative, stop and ask yourself, “Is this thought serving me? Is there a way I can view this situation differently?” The more you allow yourself to focus and hold on to real or fabricated negative scenarios, the more you will notice them and be impacted by them. If you consistently practice focusing on things that you are grateful for along with ways that you can learn from challenging situations, then you will inevitably grow in gratitude and in wisdom. You will not always have control over your external environment, but you will always have the power to impact your internal world with repeated self-encouragement, self-forgiveness, and self-reflection.
Positive Thinking Practice
Here are some suggestions on how to shift your thinking from negative to positive:
Positive Affirmations. Addressing your limiting beliefs and replacing them with positive affirmations can have a huge impact on your life. You can use “I am” statements such as “I am strong, healthy, brave, beautiful, etc.” or other statements that reflect supportive, kind, and encouraging aspects of yourself and your goals. Although this may seem too good to be true, there is a lot of research validating the efficacy of positive affirmations. Positive affirmations, when spoken with strong belief and purpose, can actually help rewire your brain. As mindset expert and best-selling author Dr. Joe Dispenza has said, “Affirmations physically alter your brain to make those positive, healthy, and compassionate thoughts a reality for you!” See more quotes and affirmations by Dr. Joe Dispenza here. Become aware of/address your negative thinking, dismantle your limiting beliefs, and add positive affirmations to your daily routine by either speaking them out loud or in your head.
Surround yourself with more positive people. While it may not always be realistic to avoid “negative nellies” or those who like to brood over everything, you can actively attempt to spend more time with uplifting people. Reach out to friends, family, or coworkers who make you feel good and speak positively about themselves and others. Those who consistently speak badly about themselves, ruminate on terrible events, or gossip about others will only drain you and hinder your positive thinking efforts. Hang out with people or make new friends who are noticeably kind to themselves, others, and the world. No one is perfect of course, but we can all feel how some people can raise our frequency and mood levels, while others can bring us down, consciously or unconsciously. Surround yourself with positive people who are working on themselves and you will be more willing and likely to do so yourself.
Consume more positive media. It is important to stay updated on events and news so that you can be a good citizen of the world, expand your knowledge base, and take action when needed. However, in today’s tech-heavy world we are constantly overstimulated and overwhelmed with bad news that can bring down our vibe and make it harder to think more positively. It is important to take time away from the negative news cycle, as well as forms of entertainment that may be impacting our psyches such as tv shows, movies, and social media accounts that showcase high drama, distress, and discomfort. That’s not to say you need to avoid these things completely or that they don’t serve some purposes; instead, be mindful of how much time you are spending watching those depressing or graphic forms of media and try to start incorporating more media with comforting, humorous, or inspiring visuals and storylines.
Immerse yourself in positive podcasts, music, and books. To make it easier for your brain to take in, understand, and exude positivity you should delve into resources that can help. Play that upbeat song that makes you want to dance. Subscribe to that new and interesting podcast that makes you laugh or gives you more perspective. Order or borrow that self-help book in paper, kindle, or audible format. While there might be a lot of sad, disheartening, and negative content out there, there is just as much happy, motivational, and positive content! Some of my favorite and most notable self-development and mindset experts who produce helpful, engaging, and motivational content include, Brene Brown, Jay Shetty, Tony Robbins, and Dr. Joe Dispenza.
With a little help from some external sources and a lot of internal self-encouragement, you will be able to believe in yourself more. You will be able to take action, make real changes, and improve and maintain your overall mental and physical health.
Written by Michelle Eggink
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Meditation & Mindfulness Teacher
If you are looking to learn more about ways to improve your mindset, schedule a meditation and breathwork session with Michelle. These sessions go above and beyond your regular meditation class, as they are designed more like coaching sessions. In these sessions, you will discuss your goals, concerns, and health history and receive a custom-tailored meditation and breathwork set, as well as tips and takeaways for your daily life.