Have you ever noticed that some people are just naturally positive? Not only are they mentally healthy but physically healthy too, with less sickness and disease.
Where did they get that innate sense of optimism and “fountain of youth” health? Is positive thinking part of their secret?
Positivity doesn’t mean foolish optimism.
Many people shun positive thinking because it can feel false, forced and inauthentic. A plastered smile and a clueless attitude.
But positive thinking doesn’t mean being Pollyanna either. Positive psychology encourages you to acknowledge painful emotions while also focusing on solutions or “silver linings” instead of feeling hopelessly defeated.
Positive thinkers also tend to reflect on painful situations from the past and connect the dots, understanding how it helped them with personal growth and needed change.
But beyond psychology, there’s a growing body of evidence that thinking positivity improves your overall health too.
1. POSITIVITY MEANS DECREASED STRESS AND ANXIETY
Dr. Claire Eagleson of King's College London groundbreaking study showed that simply visualizing a positive outcome to a worrisome situation was enough to allay anxiety substantially and boost overall optimism. That’s right: positive ideation alone can substantially reduce anxiety and worry.
According to Anxiety.org:
“These findings suggest that simply redirecting worried thoughts to positive imagery of any kind can lead to improvements in the overall experience of anxiety.”
2. POSITIVITY MEANS BETTER HEALTH
Positive people live longer and heal better. It’s that simple.
Multiple studies show that positive thinking improves the body’s ability to fight disease.
Medical schools worldwide now accept that the body's response to stress can suppress parts of the immune system and, over the long term, lead to damaging levels of inflammation.
As far back as the 90s, studies have revealed that the brain is directly wired to the immune system.
Steve Cole, a professor at the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) at the University of California, has published a series of studies suggesting that negative mental states guide immune responses and increase the risk of chronic illnesses.
For example, a virologist Ronald Glaser and his colleagues sampled blood from medical students, and found that during a stressful exam period, they had lower activity from virus-fighting immune cells, and higher levels of antibodies for the common virus Epstein–Barr, suggesting that stress had compromised their immune systems and allowed the normally latent virus to become reactivated.
The bottomline is, stress causes inflammation in the body which is a common source of many disorders and disease. Positivity is an anti-inflammatory antidote to stress, protecting your body from disease.
3. POSITIVITY MEANS INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
Positive thinking impacts your ability to work more effectively. Jessica Pryce-Jones (author of Happiness at Work) found in her global-wide study that happier participants in the workplace were:
180% more energized
108% more engaged
50% more motivated
50% more productive
Productivity is not only good for our goals but also for our health. When we feel productive and on purpose, we feel less stressed, and in turn, our health improves.
4. POSITIVITY MEANS BETTER RELATIONSHIPS
Perhaps we all know this, but people like us better when we’re more positive. And not just because we’re more pleasant to be around; our positivity has a physiological effect on ourself and others.
On the contrary, loneliness creates into lowered immune response.
Professor Steve Cole, previously mentioned, also studied the effects of loneliness and its impact on health.
Isolation is one of the most well known psychological risk factors for poor health, though it is still uncertain whether loneliness actually causes health problems or if lonely people are simply less likely to care for themselves (think poor diet, increased alcohol consumption, etc).
Often when we feel less positive about life we withdraw from relationships, further highlighting the important link between positive emotions, positive relationships and our health.
Relationship and connecting with like-minded people is vitally important. From friends to family to significant others and yes, even animals, a positive attitude is contagious.
💡A Simple Method to Increase Your Positivity
If you struggle more with thinking your way into a more positive attitude, use a tangible approach such as writing. Writing means you don’t have to “think” positively and instead “write” positively, which is more tangible and doable.
“Studies have shown that optimism can be altered with relatively uncomplicated and low-cost interventions — even something as simple as having people write down and think about the best possible outcomes for various areas of their lives, such as careers or friendships.” - Kaitlin Hagan, Harvard researcher
That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Simply writing down the best possible outcome can begin to turn the tides to a more positive mindset and better health.
No one can afford to be stuck in a spiral of negative thinking. The impact is far reaching with potentially fatal consequences, yet the solution is simple.
Think in terms of small shifts and incremental changes that you can make to reframe a situation you perceive as negative and write out a more perfect ending to this imperfect story we call life.
If you need more positivity in your life, try this proven positive invoking tool.