“Positive thinking means having a positive attitude that is grounded in reality, especially during times of crisis and struggle.”
Positive thinking broadens our range of ideas and actions. It helps us be more optimistic, face obstacles, and handle stress better. It can also raise our happiness levels, say happiness scientists.
Happiness science is an informal term for Positive Psychology—a branch of psychology that studies what makes life worthwhile, and deals with:
- Positive emotions, like hope and optimism
- Positive institutions, like marriage and museums
- Positive experiences, like friendships and successes
10 Benefits of Positive Thinking & Being Positive
Positive-thinking people have more frequent positive emotions and less frequent negative emotions, higher well-being and life satisfaction, better physical health and more resilience to stress, better social connections with others, and longer lives.
Here are 10 benefits of positive attitude and positive thinking:
1. More productivity in personal and professional lives
One of the most practical benefits of positive thinking is that it can make us more productive,
- Jessica Pryce-Jones, the author of Happiness at Work, found in her research with over 3,000 respondents in 79 countries, that happiness impacts productivity.
- In her study, the happier participants were 180% more energized at work, 108% more engaged, 50% more motivated, and 50% more productive.
“The science of happiness at work delivers return on investment and strategic outcomes when properly implemented.”
2. Greater grit and resilience to face adversities
Positive thinking increases our resilience and grit.
- Grit is our ability to hold on in difficult times. Resilience is our capacity to bounce back after failing while fighting a tough time.
- The truth is, we will always have valid reasons to be sad, since that is how life works. But if we focus too much on the negatives of a difficult situation, it can trigger more misery, like pessimism and insomnia.
- Instead, nurturing a positive outlook during difficulties and uncertainties can help us handle them better and make the present happier.
- It means, even when we are wading through a mire of suffering, we may allow ourselves the warmth of a little sunshine.
“Positive psychology is not about denying difficult emotions. It’s about opening to what is happening here and now, and cultivating and savoring the good in your life.” — Ron Siegel
Cultivating a positive attitude is one of the best things you could offer your family, organization, and community.
- A positive thinking attitude can promote gratitude, kindness, and love in your relationships.
- Your positive energy can benefit those around you, and a negative attitude can harm both your life and those in your family, community, and workplace.
- Positive thinkers embrace failures as a part of the success journey, understanding that everything cannot go as planned.
- Positive mindset people learn from their mistakes and move forward with optimism and hope.
- You can cultivate positivity through positive interventions, like feeling grateful for the good things and good people in your life, feeling the power of awe, and engaging in charitable work.
4. Lower stress and anxiety during normal and stressful situations
A positive mindset can make out a silver line, even in the most louring clouds of anxiety.
- Cultivating a positive mindset arms people with a better ability to cope with stress. A positive attitude also increases life satisfaction. It helps refresh our minds and relieve our stresses.
- Positive thinking can reduce present stress and help one feel better about future situations.
- Research showed employees with a more positive mindset made more coping efforts when expecting a high workload.
- Studies in both animals and people show stress promotes inflammation. Intense stress over-activates the immune system, leading to a strong inflammatory response.
- Researchers suspect the more positive people are better protected against inflammatory damage due to stress.
5. Less likelihood of sadness and symptoms of depression
Depression affects over 100 million people worldwide.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends treatment with 10 psychotherapy sessions combined with antidepressant medication for moderate to severe depression.
However, both interventions are costly.
Positive activity interventions (PAIs) can be a cost-effective means to teach people ways to increase their positive thinking, positive affect, and positive behaviors, and reduce their symptoms of depression.
Here’s how to think positive with positive interventions:
- practicing optimism
- counting one’s blessings
- writing letters of gratitude
- performing acts of kindness
- using one’s signature strengths
- meditating on positive feelings toward others
Layous and Lyubomirsky, after a review of the relevant literature on the effectiveness of various types of PAIs, suggest PAIs might relieve depression.
Sin and Lyubomirsky’s meta-analysis of 51 PAIs with both depressed and non-depressed participants revealed they are effective in enhancing well-being and improving depressive symptoms.
6. More kindness and helpfulness to others and to self
Positivity enhances the feeling of gratitude and helpfulness. It makes you feel grateful for the many blessings in your life.
We can build a positive mindset around a sense of savoring, a stance of optimism, and an attitude of gratitude. These are proven mechanisms in positive psychology to boost our psychological well-being.
Three of the best activities you can do to build a strong positive mindset are:
- Focusing your attention on things happening around you,
- Not giving up your dreams in the face of adversities, and
- Being grateful for the good things in your life.
Self-kindness and self-compassion are also effective positive interventions.
7. Reduced risk of heart diseases and cardiovascular events
People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were 1/3rd less likely to have a heart attack or other related event within 5 to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.
That was the finding, according to Lisa Renee Yanek, Assistant Professor of Medicine, at Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Effect of positive wellbeing on incidence of symptomatic coronary artery disease.)
In the UK, researchers looked at the psychological traits of 8,000+ people and found those who were high on optimism and felt a better sense of well-being had a 30% lower risk of developing heart disease.
In the US Health and Retirement study on people with known stable heart disease, researchers found that the positive psychological traits seemed to lower the risk of having a heart attack significantly. These traits included optimism (38% lower risk), a positive outlook (32%), and having a purpose in life (27%).
8. Stronger connection to other people and to humanity in general
One of the most heart-warming benefits of thinking positive is that it makes us care for others.
People who are more positive do not rush to judge other people harshly, initiate angry exchanges, or react aggressively to other people’s outbursts.
Research suggests those who are more connected to nature seem to experience more positive emotions, vitality, and life satisfaction, as compared to those less connected to nature.
9. Better mental health and more stable mental wellbeing
Studies show embracing a positive mindset increases positive feelings and mood, whereas adopting a negative mindset increases negative emotions and decreases happiness.
This study, involving 537 students (seventh-grade to ninth-grade) at a large middle school in Israel, evaluated a positive psychology school-based intervention to enhance mental health.
Over the 2-year study period, the researchers spotted a remarkable decrease in the distress, anxiety, and depression symptoms in the participants. In addition, the students gained self-esteem, self-efficacy, and optimism, and reduced interpersonal sensitivity symptoms.
Positive thinking also increases self-esteem and self-reliance.
10. Higher overall immunity and more disease-fighting ability
A mind that is positive, optimistic, and worry-free can contribute to a more resilient immune system. With a positive attitude, you can protect yourself from several illnesses.
What Is Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking is approaching life and its challenges with an optimistic, yet realistic, outlook.
- Positive thinking involves having positive thoughts, experiencing positive feelings, and expecting positive outcomes.
- It gives our current thoughts the positive ability to shape our future reality. It means having a positive stance on your past, present, and future life.
- Positive thinking means going about your daily life with a hopeful, helpful, authentic, and affirmative attitude.
- It means seeing yourself and your abilities in a positive light, more so when subjected to unjust criticism.
- Positive thinking lets you see the good in most things and most people, and not get overwhelmed by negative events. It elevates you to see new opportunities and possibilities.
- It also includes allowing yourself to feel the occasional moments of joy while going through long periods of uncertainty and stress.
- Having a positive mindset means showing that you understand and care about how a sad person is feeling.
What Positive Thinking Is Not?
Hurt and sad people don’t want to be told to feel or think positive.
- Forcing positivity on someone who doesn’t want it is toxic positivity. When weighed down by life, people would rather not hear, “Cheer up!”
- Positive thinking is not trying to look and act happy while bottling up negative emotions or overlooking negative things.
- Unfortunately, what gets glorified today is the positivity that is unrealistic and disturbing to one’s mental peace.
- It is cruel to shame someone for not thinking positively when they are depressed or grieving.
Why Is Positive Thinking Important?
The benefits of a positive attitude and positive thinking include being more hopeful, successful, resilient, gritty, and healthy. It can increase our happiness and life satisfaction. Research by experts like Diener, Sandvik, & Pavot (1991); Fredrickson (1998); Folkman & Moskowitz (2000); Tugade, Fredrickson, & Barrett (2004); Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener (2005); and Veenhoven (2008) support this.
- Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build experiment found that those who watched positive videos were better at problem-solving afterward.
- Fredrickson suggests that positive emotions can expand our focus, outlook, and thinking, letting us access a broader range of ideas and mental resources. In turn, it can help our personal growth.
- Induced positive emotions can increase people’s openness to new experiences (Kahn & Isen, 1993), broaden their reservoir of desired actions (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005), and their ability to recognize individuals of another race (Johnson & Fredrickson, 2005) more accurately.
- Positive emotions also seem to increase our sense of “oneness” with our close ones (Hejmadi, Waugh, Otake, & Fredrickson, 2008), and put more trust in our acquaintances (Dunn & Schweitzer, 2005).
What are the 5 advantages of positive thinking?
1. Positive thinking leads to greater resilience, allowing individuals to bounce back from adversity and stress more effectively.
2. It enhances mental and physical health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving overall well-being.
3. Positive thinkers are more successful in their personal and professional lives, as they are better at setting and achieving goals and building strong relationships.
4. It helps us grow a more optimistic outlook, which in turn leads to greater hope for the future and a stronger sense of purpose.
5. Positive thinking cultivates a mindset of abundance and gratitude, allowing individuals to appreciate the good things in life and find joy in the present moment.
Happy people tend to think more positively, and those who think positively tend to be happier.
Here are 3 key takeaways:
- Positive thinking means noticing the bright side, but not ignoring the difficult side.
- A positive mindset practice can help us make better decisions and find more opportunities.
- Practicing mindfulness, positive self-talk, and self-compassion can help cultivate positive thinking.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher.
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