There are really no drawbacks in having a positive attitude in life. Even being surrounded by people that are optimistic, grateful and see things going wrong as a challenge rather than a misery, is very refreshing.
There is one quote we like and would love to share:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”
― Henry Ford
That seems so simple, but why is it then always so hard to keep a positive attitude?
Seth Godin has a possible explanation to this:
… Negative thinking feels good. In its own way, we believe that negative thinking works. Negative thinking feels realistic, or soothes our pain, or eases our embarrassment. Negative thinking protects us and lowers expectations.
But he also says, and I agree:
Positive thinking is hard. Worth it, though.
1. You will live healthier and longer.
A study confirms that people who express positivity on a regular basis live on average 10 years longer. Furthermore, other several studies have shown a link between being positive and a lower risk of cardiovascular death.
2. Positivity opens your mind and allows you to build new skills and resources.
… positive emotions momentarily broaden people’s attention and thinking, enabling them to draw on higher-level connections and a wider-than-usual range of percepts or ideas.
“Put simply, the broaden-and-build theory states that positive emotions widen people’s outlooks in ways that, little by little, reshape who they are.
Now it seems quite understandable: If you’re feeling unsafe or are in constant fear, building something or acquiring knowledge for future use become irrelevant to us. We’re too threatened by the current situation to think of planning something for the future.
3. Ability to handle stress and depression.
Positive emotions have a positive impact when we’re in difficult situations helping us to buffer against the stress (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2000). It is also shown that they can lower the risks for depressive symptoms later on in life.
4. Allows you to think clearly and make effective decisions.
Quite often, decisions made under stressful circumstances reveal themselves afterwards as bad decisions. The heart’s input has a strong effect on the brain’s emotional process. Therefore, experiencing negative emotions inhibits higher cognitive functions and thus limiting you to think clearly, remember, learn and make effective decisions.
Maybe you have tried many times to be more optimistic but just gave up telling yourself that you’re just not that type of person. Don’t give up yet!
Dr. Martin Seligman researched optimists and pessimists for more than 25 years and he came to the conclusion that optimism can be learned “… by learning a new set of cognitive skills”.
1. Avoid complaining.
This is not just related to yourself but also to the environment you’re in. Researchers found that the pure exposure to negative words will not just affect your mood but also affect your productivity. It’s time to tell your friends or co-workers to stop complaining or to seriously consider to leave the room if the complaining doesn’t stop.
The power of smiling seems almost endless.
Smiling does not just reduce stress and help you to build more positive emotions, but it’s also affecting others. Researches found that facial expressions are in fact contagious, so if you have a positive attitude and smile to others, you’ll likely get a smile back.
There is a scientific explanation to this caused by certain brain cells called “mirror neurons”:
The way mirror neurons likely let us understand others is by providing some kind of inner imitation of the actions of other people, which in turn leads us to “simulate” the intentions and emotions associated with those actions. When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile.
says Marco Iacoboni, neuroscientist at the University of California at Los Angeles.
3. Praise the good.
One of the best things you can do to become an optimist is being grateful. Acknowledging that things aren’t that bad and that to most of the things there is always a bright side, makes a huge difference in your daily life.
A study revealed that writing letters of gratitude over a period of 3 weeks can increase overall happiness and life satisfaction. Saving some time at the end of each day to write down 3 things you’re grateful for is really not that hard.
4. Act like an optimist.
If you’re not an optimist (yet), you gonna have to fake it till you make it.
There are always chances that “bad” things might happen. If they happen, reframe them. Sure, in that specific moment you might think “this was your only chance”, or “this was the best you will ever get”. Fact is that as often in life, one thing leads to another and an initial “bad” thing might actually lead to a greater opportunity.
The best trait of optimists is that they never take things personal and always very specific to an event. If they experience for example a personal failure, they see it just as a bad day. It’s always a temporary state of being and never something permanent.
The same goes for positive events: positive people don’t make excuses if they succeed in something by feeling embarrassed and saying “oh well, I just got lucky”. They are happy about it and praise what they have achieved. They celebrate each small win.
I really hope these are some useful and easy tips to get you started to be more positive.
For more productivity hacks check out 100 Hacks To Get Things Done – The Ultimate Productivity List.
— Your Noisli Team