If asked, most people would agree that an optimistic, positive attitude is better to have than a negative, pessimistic view – and there is an abundance of scientific evidence to back this theory. A variety of studies examining the effects of optimism and positivity on psychological, physiological and physical health have concluded that individuals with a positive outlook tend to enjoy a multitude of benefits, from reducing symptoms of chronic illnesses to lessening the risk of contracting certain diseases and more.

Studies examining the one-year survival rates of patients diagnosed with terminal cancer revealed that subjects who had been rated as optimists according to the Life Orientation Test (LOT) tended to manifest dramatically greater survival rates than their pessimistic counterparts. (Source)

An optimistic, positive way of approaching life isn’t about ignoring negative circumstances or events, or actively trying to avoid negative situations. It is nearly impossible to avoid unpleasantness entirely, and when the occasional disagreeable situation arises trying to pretend it isn’t happening isn’t the best strategy.

Long-term studies have revealed optimists tend to have a better quality of life than pessimists do because they possess better coping mechanisms and higher levels of adaptability.

When confronted with stress (whether physical or psychological), optimists tend to handle it better and adapt faster than pessimists do. Rather than losing motivation or feeling resigned to the worst in the face of adversity, optimists adapt to the new reality and look for solutions to either better the situation or come to terms with it. (Source)

Effects of Negative versus Positive Thinking

It has been established that a positive outlook comes with a range of advantages, from better health to improved abilities to adjust to difficult or stressful conditions.

Contrastingly, a negative, pessimistic attitude comes with clear disadvantages ranging from mild to severe – a poor outlook can impact your personal and professional life as well as your health.

An 11 year study monitoring subjects of varying levels of optimism and pessimism suffering from coronary heart disease established pessimism as a significant independent risk factor for increased mortality rates from CHD. (Source)

Individuals who tend to think negatively also have higher rates of stress. Whether chronic or acute, stress can have grave consequences over time.

Muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, low libido, and lethargy are some of the physical effects stress can manifest as, not to mention increased incidence of contracting an illness or disease.

Behaviorally, stress may result in generalized anxiety, restlessness, depression, and poor lifestyle habits such as overeating or undereating, social withdrawal, and relying on unhealthy crutches such as drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.

Pessimists who frequently find themselves under stress are also more likely to neglect their health, have trouble following and adhering to exercise routines, and eat a healthy diet.

These unhealthy tendencies may be another factor that contributes to the statistically higher rate of individuals who think negatively contracting certain diseases. (Source)

Staying positive has both long-term and short-term benefits, particularly where it concerns the ability to confront and manage obstacles in a healthy, non-stressful manner.

A positive attitude can actually help you manage pain better – a study of individuals with jaw disorders revealed that those who scored as optimists on LOT reported having higher pain tolerance than the less optimistic or outright pessimistic patients. (Source)

Additional advantages of an optimistic view include improved self-esteem and confidence and improved ability to form and sustain healthy, communicative relationships. (Source)

How To Start Thinking Positively

It isn’t easy to alter your mindset and simply decide that you will start thinking positively – you have to make an effort to gradually alter negative thought patterns and behaviors and consciously practice positive thinking and habits.

You can begin by identifying your negative behavior patterns and avoiding negative self-talk.

Self-talk is essentially the inner dialogue you have with yourself, and keeping it positive can make a big impact as to how you handle stress and setbacks.

Instead of being overly critical about yourself – “I’m worthless” or “I’m not good enough” – think “I am good enough” and “I’m a capable individual”.

Consciously begin working on your explanatory style, or the way that you perceive and explain events. Optimists will usually try to find the good in any circumstance whether positive or negative, and acknowledge their personal qualities, abilities and skills contribute towards good things happening.

Finally, do what feels right for you to get you on the path to positive thinking. Enlist friends and family for encouragement, begin keeping a journal to take note of the things you are grateful for, and don’t feel discouraged if the occasional negative thought crops up! (Source)

Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.



W| By Helen Saunders                                           Via #BeInspired

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