No doubt you have heard about the importance of positive thinking for good mental, emotional, and even physical health. But is there any truth to this?
This post will uncover the health benefits of positive thinking.
The market is saturated, at the moment, with many books about positive thoughts/thinking. Perhaps this was brought on by the current world situation. We´ve certainly felt job insecurities from a global standpoint, because of the Covid 19 pandemic.
We´ve had to adapt to drastic changes, and through it all, we´ve learned many lessons along the way. For many of us, our focus has changed drastically. Many seek ways to cope and still have hope for the future.
What is positive thinking?
All this talk about positive thinking, does it work? Just what is positive thinking anyway? The dictionary describes positive thinking as being optimistic, concentrating on the good and not the bad.
I´m sure you´ve heard or even know of someone who´s very optimistic, especially in dire situations. Perhaps you´ve wondered if this was an act? Is it possible to have positive daily thoughts?
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Effects of positive thinking on the brain
The brain is a very powerful, complex, and mysterious organ. Do you know that the human mind has over 6,000 thoughts per day? This is according to a study conducted by Queen´s University Research Department in Canada.
This study also determined that our thoughts predict our personalities, our outlook on life, how we perceive ourselves, and our well-being. Our thoughts determine what or who we are.
Positive thinking health benefits are plentiful.
Our consciousness can flow continuously from one thought to the next. Our thoughts are influenced by external factors such as drinking coffee, tea, or wine, watching a movie, or going for a walk, among other things (Thought Transitions).
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt to changes in an individual´s environment by forming new neural connections over time. The brain can change and grow in response to experiences and enables people to bounce back from setbacks and adversity, making them more resilient.
Scientists have discovered that thoughts can change the structure and function of the brain even in severe neurological maladies such as strokes, cerebral palsy, and mental illness.
Repetitive positive thinking can rewire the brain and can strengthen areas that stimulate positive feelings. Could deliberate, repetitive positive thoughts be the nutrition your brain needs to grow and charter into new territories never before explored?
Some more positive thinking health benefits are:
- physical health benefits (increased life span)
- increase in cardiovascular health
- stronger resistance to the common cold
- lower rates of depression, anxiety, and stress
- enables the development of better coping skills during hardships/stress
- generates a positive attitude
Effects of negative thinking
- Over-thinking problems or just dwelling on them constantly develops a state of anxiety
- causes exhaustion (drains your energy)
- can cause withdrawal
- conducive to isolation (pushing people away)
- changes your mood and outlook on life
- only strengthens the worry function in the brain
- health problems (cardiovascular issues, sleep disorders, and others).
- The brain’s natural (thermostat) tendencies are negative
This information should come as no surprise, given the fact that you know that you´ll die one day. The brain has a natural negative bias. This means you have your work cut out for you. But don´t fret once you practice positive thinking frequently it gets easier.
Just like when you start an exercise routine, it´s not very easy at first, but when you do it continually, it gets better, and easier, with time. You have to train your thoughts and stir them in the right direction. Your thoughts should not control you rather, you should guide and control them.
The brain is wired to operate in survival mode to spot danger and identify threats which leads to greater attention to negative thoughts, thereby empowering them and making them more frequent.
For this reason, you naturally gravitate to negative information oftentimes, replaying conversations in your mind to see how stupid you sounded or trying to interpret what someone meant by what they said. That is a dangerous practice as you cannot read people´s minds.
Scientists say that negative thoughts carry more weight than positive ones, and we need five positive thoughts for one negative thought to negate negative thinking.
This point alone should highlight how important it is to steer the brain away from its natural tendencies of negative thinking by replacing them with positive ones instead.
Why are some people more prone to negativity?
Life experiences can form and change us and our perceptions. Negative experiences in both childhood and adulthood may strengthen and confirm negative expectations.
That is a defense mechanism against disappointment.
Ways to overcome negative thinking
A study carried out by King´s College in London trained a group of people who suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to respond to worries by imagining positive outcomes to situations by visualizing them in their minds and writing them down.
After only 4 weeks, the study showed that on average, there was reportedly a significant decrease in their worry.
Along with positive thoughts, you need to talk positively to yourself out loud throughout the day (Self-talk and no you´re not crazy), in the form of positive affirmations.
Your cells know your voice so when you speak kindly to yourself you create peace within yourself. Also, you need to visualize positive thoughts and scenarios instead of entertaining thoughts that are full of doom and gloom.
Do images impact the brain?
Images correlate with brain processes. Think about it, before humans learned the written language, images (drawings) were the mode of communication. They have a tremendous impact on the brain, especially when it comes to human emotions.
Just think about Billboard signs or movie posters they influence our decision to do or not do a thing. Or think about Restaurant Menus their images elicit a reaction from us.
What images are you feeding your brain? Are they wholesome? If not, perhaps you may want to change that narrative. Fill your living spaces with positive images.
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You´ve heard the old saying, ‘You are what you eat.’ Could it be that you are what you think? How do you perceive yourself? Do you look down on yourself? Do you have low self-esteem?
If your thoughts about yourself are that you are more than enough and are confident, then that´s what you will portray. There seems to be something about positive thinking after all.
Positive thoughts affect your health, and optimism is a vital part of effective stress management. You hold the key to your thinking and belief systems when you control your mind by controlling your thoughts.
Besides, no one enjoys the company of someone who is constantly negative that gets old quickly. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and uplift your thought life and change the course of your life.
How about you? What diet are you feeding your mind?
Do you need to whip your mind into shape today?
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