What Is Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking is the practice of focusing on the good in every situation. It means focusing more on the positive side of an event than the negative.
This does not mean ignoring the bad things. It means that you accept the bad but then start working on making the most out of whatever has happened.
Positive thinking allows you to approach life’s challenges with positivity and optimism.
When bad things happen, you focus on the positive and keep going rather than focusing on the bad. For many people, this is the definition of resilience.
Learning to be more positive is a big step towards learning to be more resilient.
Your thoughts make your actions and your actions define your success.
Developing a positive mindset will make you far more resilient and happier.
The Benefits of Positive Thinking
You cannot change the world outside, but you can change how you react to it.
Changing how you react to the world will change how you feel about yourself and so has a real impact on your well-being.
The benefits of positive thinking go far beyond just feeling good in the moment.
It offers a whole host of benefits, a key one being stress management and building resilience. These benefits have been extensively researched.
The physical benefits include:
Increased life span
Better psychological and physical well-being
Better cardiovascular health
Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Positive people around
More pain tolerance
The mental benefits include:
Increase in creativity
Greater problem-solving skill
Clear and realistic thinking
Lower rates of depression
More resilience against stress
Increase in confidence
Better time management
How Does Positive Thinking Work?
Positive thinking allows you to approach difficulties more productively and to take action.
The ability to keep moving and focus on the positive offers two clear benefits:
You avoid getting stuck in a negative cycle of doubting yourself and blaming yourself. This only eats away at your self-confidence and makes you less likely to take action.
Taking action feels good and often makes problems feel more manageable. This makes you more likely to persevere as your problems seem more manageable and so puts you into a virtuous circle.
Can Positive Thinking Change Your Brain?
There is some evidence that positive thinking can change your brain.
Positive thoughts will reduce your cortisol levels and increase your serotonin levels.
These in turn can change which genes are expressed in your brain.
This isn’t well researched so we wouldn’t blame you if you take this with a grain of salt.
However, it is widely accepted that London cab drivers physically change the structure of their brain during their training when they learn their way around London’s roads. So perhaps it wouldn’t be surprising if consistently thinking positively also changed your brain.
How Positive Thinking Can Make You More Productive, More Resilient, and Smarter
Ask yourself the following question, and then listen up – because this is really important. Do you think you’d be happier if you were more successful? If you answered yes, then you, especially, need to read on. Research shows it isn’t quite that simple.
In reality, it’s the other way around: You’d probably be more successful if you were happier.
“People often project happiness into the future, believing they’d be happy if they could only own a certain thing or have a certain experience,” says one expert and researcher who consults with Fortune 500 companies. “But, when we get the things we said we wanted, the happiness we expected is often elusive. It’s because our brains operate in the opposite order. This science could create a cultural revolution, because it’s showing us that happiness isn’t about getting to point ‘A’ or point ‘B.’ It’s about the attitude you bring to your everyday work.”
This expert helped design a famed happiness course – at one time the most popular course at Harvard University – and then went on to create a study that measured the connection between positivity and production in a group of managers over a four-month period. The study suggested that, to a large degree, happiness is a learned behaviour. Managers who were trained in positive psychology showed significant increases in optimism – one of the greatest indicators of performance and success.
Extensive studies have shown that employees with high levels of life satisfaction are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more resilient in the face of a challenge.
“Positive-psychology training creates a clear return on investment,” says the expert. “If your employees raise their levels of positivity, their production levels will rise also.”
Happiness doesn’t just feel good; it also improves thinking due to the broaden-and-build effect. “When we’re stressed, our brains narrow to the point that we can see only two possible actions: fight or flee,” he says. “But a happy brain can think of more solutions. When a brain is positive, it perceives more possibilities and builds more networks – coming up with innovative and creative strategies to cope with the challenges it faces. In many ways, a happy brain is a smarter brain simply because it uses more of its potential.”
How can managers create a happy-brain environment in the workplace? The answer is simple: Give your employees more recognition and praise.
“Research shows that, if a manager praises or recognizes just one person a day, over the course of a month his or her team will experience a 31% rise in productivity,” he says. “We found this to be true even in such industries as coal mining, where people don’t tend to be verbal and the attitude is often, ‘No news is good news.’ But people want to believe that their behaviour matters, and, when their manager recognizes their accomplishments on a regular basis, this teaches them that, yes, what they do has an impact on the team, that their efforts are noticed and acknowledged. It takes maybe 30 seconds a day to do, and it sets up a waterfall of success.”
Of course, not everyone works in a positive environment, but the expert says it’s quite possible to keep your brain happy even when you’re surrounded by gloom. “Only 10% of happiness depends on our external world,” he says. “The other 90% depends on how our brain processes the world. Instead of scanning the world for problems, mistakes, and dangers, positive thinkers focus on things to be grateful for or ways to make the situation better.”
Four Ways to Start Building Happiness
The expert offers four tips for training your brain to be happy.
1. Each night, write down three things for which you’re grateful. Be specific. Don’t just write, “my children.” Instead, list the funny remark your daughter said at dinner. Gratitude moves your brain into neural tracts that scan the world for things that make you happy.
2. Maximise your strengths. “We think the best way to get ahead is to focus on our weaknesses and learn how to overcome them,” he explains. “If, instead, we focused on strength every day, we would feel more engaged in routine tasks. As your investment in the day goes up, your creativity rises with it. What are you best at? Re-craft a daily task to use that strength.”
3. Journaling about recent positive experiences helps you make a connection with the most meaningful parts of your day. “After 21 days,” he says, “our brain starts to connect the dots. It begins to wrap around the things that mean the most – to notice the activities that translate into deeper satisfaction and meaning.”
4. Meditate, even if just for five minutes a day. “We all think we need to multitask to be more successful,” cautions the expert, “but, if you do two tasks at once, your stress level rises and your productivity level drops for both tasks. Meditation slows our mind down to the present moment.”
How Positive Thinking Builds Resilience
If you are resilient, it doesn’t mean that you’re immune to adversity and life’s challenges, but you will bounce back and learn from them. There are a number of things that help us build resilience, and positive thinking is one of them.
Positive thinking is not about denying reality, but when you work on developing an authentic positive mental attitude, it can be a great tool in your arsenal for when adversity does come along.
There are a number of things that help us build resilience in the workplace, and positive thinking is one of them
Why is Resilience Important in the Workplace?
Resilience improves motivation and makes you more capable of dealing with change. It also makes it less likely that you’ll experience burnout. Resilience is also linked to well-being, and better mental and physical health will improve your performance and job satisfaction.
The Very Real Benefits of Being More Resilient
You probably see throwaway quotes every day about being more resilient. Whatever you think of them, developing your resilience can bring you real benefits at work.
You’ll Handle Challenges Better
Resilience stops those negative emotions from clouding your judgement of a situation and helps you deal with issues calmly and rationally.
You’ll Communicate Better
Resilient people understand themselves and others better, so they can express themselves more clearly and constructively.
You’ll Be Less Likely to Burnout
Burnout is often linked to poor resilience. Resilience helps you pause, stand back, remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, and recognise what you need at that moment.
You’ll Be More Comfortable with Change
Change is the only constant and being resilient means you’re more likely to be able to weather the changes and storms that come along. You’ll also recognise that some changes are necessary if you want your business to grow and you’re okay with that.
You’ll Build Better Relationships
Resilience helps you understand your own needs as well as other people’s which makes for better relationships and stronger teams.
You’ll Be More Inclined to Grow and Develop
Being resilient helps you develop a growth mindset. For the business to grow, you know that you and your team have to grow along with it, and you’re not afraid of the challenge.
You’ll Be More Likely to Seek Support
No business owner is an island. Being resilient means being willing to reach out for support, and give it in equal measure, so you can overcome challenges.
So, What Part Does Positive Thinking Play?
Positive thinking is linked to better resilience. But why are positive people more resilient?
· They have more faith in themselves and their ability to overcome challenges.
· They expect things to turn out well and see setbacks as temporary and changeable.
· They treat setbacks as a learning opportunity.
Negative Emotions Exist for a Reason; Just Don’t Let Them Take Over
Thinking positively is not about never having a negative thought. Negative thoughts and emotions do serve a purpose. We feel emotions like fear for a good reason; it protects us from harm. This is an evolutionary instinct that has ensured our survival for millennia.
But often fear and negativity can hold us back and close our minds to creative problem solving and good decision making. We end up having such a narrow view of what’s going on that we only focus on the problem, which causes us to spiral into negativity and helplessness, and this seriously affects our resilience.
Learning the art of positive thinking can help us see things differently and deal with adversity much better when it comes along.
A Positive Brain Equals a Smarter Brain
Feeling happy and positive doesn’t just make us feel good. It can also help us come up with creative solutions to problems. When we’re under stress, our age-old responses kick in and we either;
Fight- get into conflict with others, lose our temper, or make snap, ill-judged decisions, OR
Flight- we decide we can’t handle the issues anymore and bury our heads in the sand, hoping that they’ll resolve.
An Easy Way to a Happy Team
If you want to improve resilience in your team, create a working environment that’s more likely to foster positive thinking. How can you do this?
Well, start with something that many managers forget to do; give your team members more recognition and praise.
Your team members don’t expect a pat on the back for everything they do, but they want to know that their contribution matters.
Each day, make it your aim to give appropriate praise or recognition to someone, either via email or verbally in person. It will make people feel valued and it will have a positive impact on your workplace. Just try it and see.
What If I’m Surrounded by Negativity?
In an ideal world, we’d all work in a harmonious environment, surrounded by positive people. However, in reality, not everyone works in a positive environment. It is possible to maintain your positivity and resilience in the face of negativity because as the saying goes, the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.
You can choose to focus on problems, mistakes, or what terrible things could happen, or you can think about things you’re grateful for and focus on ways to make things better.
The Benefits of Seeing the Glass Half Full
Positive Thinking Stops You Feeling Helpless
Because you believe that even the driest situation can improve, you’re more likely to feel able to take positive action to solve the problem.
Positive Thinking Helps You Develop Stronger Relationships
If you’re an optimist, people will look to you in tough situations to guide them and help them feel hopeful. If you have the support of others, this will help you feel even more positive and resilient in turn.
Positive Thinking is Great for Wellbeing
Studies have shown that optimistic people have better mental and physical health than pessimistic people. Better emotional and physical health equals better resilience.
How to Think Positively and Build Resilience
Just like building resilience, positive thinking is something that can be learned and intentionally developed. Here are some good strategies to help you to start thinking more positively;
Challenge Negative Thinking
Realising that you are in a negative spiral is the first step to challenging negative thinking. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, try to find evidence to the contrary.
If you’re telling yourself ‘I can’t handle this!’ is this true, and is it useful to think in this way?
Instead, you might say ‘Well I’ve handled something much worse before and it was hard but I got through it.’ This is a more positive and useful way to think, especially if you’re in the middle of a crisis. You’re reminding yourself that you are resilient and that you’re able to deal with the challenges that this situation may bring.
Focus on Your Strengths
Real resilience is not about working out how to overcome your weaknesses, it’s about focusing on your strengths. How can you better use your strengths each day? Once you start realising what your strengths are and building on them, your confidence and resilience will skyrocket.
Surround Yourself with Positive and Supportive People
This can make a world of difference when you’re trying to think more positively. Misery loves company, as they say, so instead, surround yourself with positive people who see the solution not the problem.
When times are tough, it can be difficult to forget or even outright ignore what’s going well, or those little moments of joy in your day that you don’t always allow yourself to experience. At the end of each day, write down three things you are grateful for and I guarantee, this will shift your perspective to a more positive and resilient one.
@Rumana Maner [MBA]
AirCrews Aviation Pvt Ltd
Rumana Maner [MBA] HR Manager