Does positive thinking work?

Happy Malaysian boy smiling wearing a songkok
Penang, Malaysia. A happy boy in a traditional muslim cap - songkok - smiling © | Dreamstime.com

A common definition of positive thinking, according to oxforddictionaries.com is “the practice or result of concentrating one’s mind affirmatively on the good and constructive aspects of a matter so as to eliminate negative or destructive attitudes and emotions.”

To paraphrase, positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude consisting of expecting good and favourable results instead of getting discouraged when plans do not proceed as expected. It doesn’t mean that you become ignorant and delusional so as to believe that everything is always fantastic. It is simply a way of perceiving unpleasant things in a healthier and more constructive way, instead of focusing too much of our attention on the worst-case scenarios.

An optimistic person, despite envisioning the best result, may very well be quite prepared to face the consequences of the worst outcome in a situation. Being prepared for the worst and thinking it will probably happen are quite different. 

An example of positive thinking when facing a hardship at work or home could be, “we don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges.” Furthermore, it is important to note that many of us begin to feel sorry for ourselves too often. I mean, who else would feel sorry for you if not yourself ?

This attitude however, is promotive of negative thinking. By leading us through the easy paths, consequence to frequent self-consolation, this kind of mindset will lead us to avoid challenges and hardships, eventually sending us down the slope of developmental stagnation, followed by quick depression. Conversely, thinking positively will help you reduce your stress which will also greatly reduce the necessity for always consoling yourself and push you to become the better of yourself.

Researchers currently continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health, which may include: an increased life span, lower rates of depression, less distress, greater resistance to the common cold, improved psychological and physical well-being, better overall cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, as well as improved coping with hardships and stressful times.

Positive thinking is an attitude that disallows negative thoughts and emotions to enter one’s state of mind, tricking the mind into defeat. Instead, it focuses on rationalising the good things and turning them into positive situations. The world will appear only in the way you perceive it, so training your mind to see the good in things and seeing the positive aspects of life will legitimately make your life better.

In addition, many undermine the influence of positive self-talk as well that of negative self-talk. When we hear things often, just like when we say them often to ourselves, we end up believing in them. Thus, when doing something which you sincerely think to be good, don’t hesitate to compliment yourself a little, it will motivate you to continue doing that task in the future while making you feel better about yourself.

Albeit, complimenting yourself doesn’t imply that you need to lose sight of all your faults and mistakes, however it is much more effective to rationalise those problems and aim to overcome them instead of just rubbing your face in them like a dog who peed in the house.

In effect, what consumes your mind, controls you life. It changes the perspective on how you handle everyday challenges and situations. Having positivity in your life is a choice. In summary, the happiness of you life depends almost entirely on the quality of your thoughts.

 

Co-written by: Hussein Al-Bahir