“See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.”
Do you believe in the power of positive thinking? My grandmother has always told me, “Speak your world into existence.” When optimism is challenging, it helps to know there’s scientific proof that positive thinking yields positive results.
In today’s guest post, Dr. Tom Sult shares some ways positive thinking can improve your health and wellbeing. He also shares advice on incorporating more positivity in your everyday life. I hope you find his words uplifting and inspiring!
Dr. Tom Sult is board-certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He practices functional medicine and strives to find the fundamental cause of health issues. For more information about Tom and the Just Be Well Movement, click here.
How do you approach your day? Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person? The way you think can affect not just your mood but also your health.
Negative thinking (i.e., I’m never going to get this report finished! or Why do I always blow my diet?) evokes emotions like fear and anger. When that happens, the body releases the stress hormone, cortisol. Over a period of time, high or sustained levels of cortisol can cause blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure and impaired cognitive functions.
But look on the bright side: studies show that positive thinking can provide significant health benefits including decreased feelings of loneliness1, increased pain tolerance2, and general better long-term health.
Thinking positively isn’t about ignoring reality. It’s about living proactively. One study showed that when people who thought negatively had a problem, they felt helpless. People who thought positively were more likely to believe in their ability to problem solve and take action to eliminate the problem.
So, want to put on a pair of rose-colored glasses, but don’t know how? Start small. Begin with the way you talk to yourself. Instead of thinking, “This is so hard, I can’t do it!” try saying to yourself, “This is hard, but I can do it if I take my time and go step by step.” Or even, “It’s okay for it to be hard, but I’ll keep trying.”
In an article for the Huffington Post, author Brandi Megan Granett outlined words she plans to stop using in her quest to think more positively. They include: should, have to, can’t and never.
“Should” implies guilt as in “I should diet,” while “have to” implies a total lack of control in the situation, as in, “I have to go to work.” Although you may not love dieting or working – or the alternatives – it is still a choice that you’ve made. Embrace that this is your choice instead of lamenting the lack of more preferable ones.
“Can’t” and “never” indicate complete unwillingness to try. “I can’t lose weight,” sends a much more self-defeating message than “I’ve struggled to lose weight before.” Or change “I could never eat gluten-free” to “I wonder what foods would satisfy me on a gluten-free diet?” Both revised statements leave the door open for change.
If you want to think more positively, start with small, daily thoughts. Consistently reframing them can have a big impact, helping you live with optimism and hope… and better health!
To see this article as it appears on the Just Be Well movement website, click here.
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- Nathaly Rius-Ottenheim, Daan Kromhout, Roos C. van der Mast, Frans G. Zitman, Johanna M. Geleijnse and Erik J. Giltay: Dispositional optimism and loneliness in older men ↩
- Burel R. Goodin, Tarek Kronfli, Christopher D. King, Toni L. Glover, Kimberly Sibille, Roger B. Fillingim: Testing the relation between dispositional optimism and conditioned pain modulation ↩