In a world where negative circumstances seem to be part of life, I find more and more people subscribing to the formula of Positive Thinking, Positive Actions and Positive Living. I feel that positive thoughts are the key to living a healthy life that will bring all kinds of fulfillment.
Although we are to face the reality of circumstances in a positive manner where the good can be found, we are not to live in a dream world where we are in denial of the challenges and opposition life throws in our path. Positive thinking can help us face these challenges with an optimistic attitude identifying how we can overcome and learn from these challenges instead of looking at these challenges as the end of something.
The following are a few in-depth definitions of “positive thinking” that I feel will help those who are looking at this alternative form of dealing with negative circumstances.
Logical Positive Thinking “Optimism”
This school of thought is just plain old “optimism.” Optimism is “an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events” (Merriam-Webster, 2013). This school of thought has nothing to do with believing the unbelievable will magically happen, just “see the glass as half full” (The Free Dictionary, 2013) instead of “half empty” (The Free Dictionary, 2013).
Looking at whatever situation may face an individual amiable or un-amiable, one needs to be able to see a positive solution to his or her situation. This outlook on life is healthy and promotes health as well.
Optimism can even affect the rhythm of your body, the health of your mind and the mood you find yourself in, but positive thinking cannot change and will not change the reality of any given relevant variable (the physical matter of a situation). Positive thinking can change your outlook on life and motivate you into taking a more productive course in life. But one thing that positive thinking will never do is change immediate physical circumstances magically.
Here is an example of a purely optimistic person. Meet Jeff; Jeff just lost his job, he has two car payments, a mortgage, telephone phone bill, cable bill, electric bill and so forth. What does Jeff do? He will start saying to himself…
- Where shall I look for a new job?
- Will my new paycheck cover all my bills?
- Do I need to cut back on my expenses?
- What things shall I cut back on?
- Do I really need two cars?
- Do I really need all the channels on my cable plan?
- Can I refinance to a lower mortgage rate?
- Do I need this big of house?
Yes he will go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance[Footnote]; but it only takes Jeff a short time before he starts to look at how to fix the situation instead of getting stuck in depression and anger. And before long he has his life reevaluated, and back on track. Thanks to optimism!
Health Benefits of Optimism
- Have Better Cholesterol (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013)
- Handel Stress Smoothly (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013)
- Have Stronger Immunity (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013)
- Have Lower Risk of Stroke (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013)
- Regulate Emotions Better (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013)
- Have Superior Health (Elizabeth Scott, 2013)
- Live Longer (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013)
Optimism can lower the risk of heart disease.
Among people who had established risk factors for heart disease, those who were the most optimistic were less likely than their least-optimistic peers to have a heart attack or stroke (Boyles, 2012). So as we see here, our mental outlook can either aid or hinder our cardiovascular health.
Optimists may have better cholesterol.
A 2013 study, also from the Harvard School of Public Health, but this time published in The American Journal of Cardiology, found that middle-aged study participants who scored as optimistic on a test have higher levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) and lower levels of triglycerides (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013).
Optimists may handle stress smoothly.
It can seem particularly tricky to think positively when you’re stressed out — but that’s exactly when optimism can help the most, according to “positivity” researcher Barbara Fredrickson. Her research shows that people who find meaning in stressful experiences — exhibiting a type of “silver lining” thinking — are also more likely to recover from the psychological pain of a bad event.
What’s more, according to Fredrickson’s research upbeat thoughts had a positive effect on physical recovery from an immediate stressor: According to one study, study participants who were subjected to public speaking had heart rates that returned to normal in a shorter time span if they watched a positive video beforehand.
And in totally unrelated research, psychologists found that being optimistic about one’s own abilities — and engaging in positive self-talk — was enough to improve problem solving during times of great stress.
Optimists may have stronger immunity.
As if the glass-half-empty set doesn’t have enough to fret about. A study found that keeping a positive outlook has an impact on the strength of your immune system. Researchers tracked first-year law students through the ups and downs of their school year. They found that individual students had different levels of immune response based on how positively they were thinking about things.
When a student displayed optimistic thinking, he also showed greater cell-mediated immunity — a phenomenon in which immune cells cluster to respond to a perceived threat, in this case a harmless but provocative injection of a dead mumps virus (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013).
On the other hand, a gloomy outlook brought on by say, a missed internship or bad test score had an actual negative effect on the response of immune cells.
Optimists may have lower risk of stroke.
In the largest study of the link between positive thinking and stroke risk, researchers observed 6,044 adults involved in the ongoing Health and Retirement Study who had not previously had a stroke,
Optimism was rated on a 16-point scale, and with every point increase in positivity, people exhibited a 9 percent lower likelihood of having a stroke, according to ABC News. Researchers haven’t pinpointed whether that association is due to a biological effect of optimism or merely the fact that people who look on the bright side are likely to take more steps toward total health, USA Today reported (Huffing Post Healthy Living, 2013).
Optimists may regulate emotions better.
In his studies of prisoners of war, U.S. Special Forces, earthquake victims and others surrounded by stress, Dr. Dennis Charney from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York found that the people who bounced back more easily from trying and traumatic situations had a number of similar traits.
At the top of the list? Having a positive attitude. Optimistic war veterans were found to have lower rates of depression and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), The Atlantic reported, because of their ability to say, “This is a challenge, but I will prevail,” Charney told Time.com. This realistic yet optimistic outlook is likely the key, since being overly optimistic has been linked to higher rates of depression, Men’s Health reported.
Optimists may have superior health.
In a study of 99 Harvard University students, those who were optimists at age 25 were significantly healthier at ages 45 and 60 than those who were pessimists. Other studies have linked a pessimistic explanatory style with higher rates of infectious disease, poor health, and earlier mortality (Elizabeth Scott, 2013).
Optimists may live longer.
With protective effects against so many serious health concerns, it follows that optimism has been linked to a longer life in general.
In a 2012 study of 243 centenarians, researchers found that most looked at life through rose-colored glasses. “When I started working with centenarians, I thought we’d find that they survived so long in part because they were mean and ornery,” study author Dr. Nir Barzilai (from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York) said in a statement. “But when we assessed the personalities of these 243 centenarians, we found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life. Most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing.”
So in conclusion not only does the “optimistic” attitude succor a stable mind, as we see, it also assists in our physical body’s ability to maintain good health, which can ultimately lead us into a life of fulfillment.
Thinking well leads to living well and ultimately being well.
Boyles, S. (2012, 4 18). Do Happy People Have Healthier Hearts? Retrieved 10 2, 2013, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20120418/happy-people-healthier-hearts
Elizabeth Scott, M. (2013, 7 2). About.Com Health . Retrieved 10 7, 2013, from The Benefits of Optimism: http://stress.about.com/od/optimismspirituality/a/optimismbenefit.htm
Huffing Post Healthy Living. (2013, 5 8). Optimism Health Benefits: 6 Perks Of Looking On The Bright Side. Retrieved 10 5, 2013, from Huffing Post Healthy Living: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/08/optimism-health-benefits_n_3230715.html
Marshall, K. R. (2013, 3 1). Positive Thinking: In Denial or In the Flow? Retrieved 10 4, 2013, from Cafe Truth: http://cafetruth.com/articles/positive-thinking-in-denial-or-in-the-flow/
Merriam-Webster. (2013, 10 4). Optimism. Retrieved 10 4, 2013, from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optimistic
The Free Dictionary. (2013, 10 1). See the glass half empty . Retrieved 10 4, 2013, from The Free Dictionary: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/see+the+glass+half+empty
The Free Dictionary. (2013, 10 1). See the glass half full . Retrieved 10 4, 2013, from The Free Dictionary: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/see+the+glass+half+full