Think About the Way You Think

By: Matt Nicholson & Megan Lambert

In the past 24 hours, has your job, the news, family issues, or politics brought any negative emotion or stress into your life?

Although it is easy to be consumed by negative thoughts and emotions in your daily living, research shows that intentional positive thinking is beneficial for your overall health.

Positive thinking improves your mindset.

Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a Kenan Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, conducted a study in 2004 which researched the impact that positive and negative thoughts have on your brain. Fredrickson divided her test group into five different sections. Each of these groups watched movies which instilled either contentment, anger, fear, joy, or neither a positive or negative emotion. They then completed written responses to the images based on the emotions they felt.

Based on their responses, Fredrickson concluded that the subjects who responded to the films instilling positive emotions had much more to write in their responses in contrast with the subjects who watched films that instilled negative emotions.

James Clear, a behavioral psychologist, summarizes this idea by stating,

In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that proved that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.

Positive thinking impacts your brain.

Additionally, positive thinking trains the brain to open pathways allowing us to be more open-minded and optimistic. As a result, this allows us to live a healthier, more stress-free life. Likewise, positive thinking exudes confidence, success, and improves your relationship with the people around you.

3 ways to practice gratitude and positive thinking in your daily life:

  1. Create a thankfulness journal and write down five positive thoughts every day.
  2. Write a letter of encouragement to someone important to you.
  3. Call someone who has made a positive impact on your life.