How many times have you heard a friend, co-worker, spouse or significant other say, “Think positive” when you are feeling depressed, angry, anxious, frustrated or just down-right negative? Usually it’s the last think you want to hear at the moment, but it could possibly be the best thing you could do for both your emotional and physical health!
Positive attitude, positive thinking, and optimism are now known to be a root cause of many positive life benefits. Studies show positive people can experience an increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of stress, greater resistance to the common cold, better overall well-being, reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and better coping skills during times of hardship and stress. In his, A Primer in Positive Psychology, Christopher Petersen, PhD, says, “...optimism has demonstrable benefits, and pessimism has drawbacks.” He goes on to say, “...optimism...has been linked to positive mood and good morale; to perseverance and effective problem solving; to academic, athletic, military, occupational, and political success; to popularity; to good health; and even to long life and freedom from trauma.” It seems people with a positive attitude simply live longer, happier, healthier, more successful lives… and who doesn’t want that!!
Attitude is defined as the mental position that represents an individual's degree of like or dislike for an item – a generally positive or negative view of a person, place, thing, or event. A positive attitude is, therefore, the inclination to generally be in an optimistic, hopeful state of mind. However, attitudes are expected to change as a function of experience – so someone with a typically negative attitude can change!
Overall, people with a positive attitude are optimists and believe they are accountable for good things and that good things will generally come their way. If something bad comes instead, optimists tend to write it off as an isolated incident, an anomaly, or something out of their control. They continue to believe things will be better in the future. A pessimist is a person who nurtures a consistently negative attitude, expecting the worst of people and of situations. This outlook can persist regardless of facts or circumstances that might indicate a more balanced or positive reality.
However, your way of thinking, whether positive or negative, is a habit… and habits can be changed! But it takes practice. If your first thoughts about the meaning of something that has happened are negative thoughts, take the first step toward a positive attitude by simply recognizing your thoughts as negative and trying to create a more positive thought. Thoughts are always under your control and can be changed! The following steps can also help you create a more positive attitude.