The Benefits of Positive Thinking and Happiness

How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work

The Benefits of Positive Thinking and Happiness

Positive thinking sounds useful on the surface. (Most of us would prefer to be positive rather than negative.) But, “positive thinking” is also a soft and fluffy term that is easy to dismiss. In the real world, it rarely carries the same weight as words “work ethic” or “persistence.”

But those views may be changing.

Research is beginning to reveal that positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude. Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile.

The impact of positive thinking on your work, your health, and your life is being studied by people who are much smarter than me. One of these people is Barbara Fredrickson.

Fredrickson is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina and she published a landmark paper that provides surprising insights about positive thinking and its impact on your skills. Her work is among the most referenced and cited in her field and it is surprisingly useful in everyday life.

Let’s talk about Fredrickson’s discovery and what it means for you…

What Negative Thoughts Do to Your Brain

Play along with me for a moment.

Let’s say that you’re walking through the forest and suddenly a tiger steps onto the path ahead of you. When this happens, your brain registers a negative emotion — in this case, fear.

Researchers have long known that negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When that tiger crosses your path, for example, you run. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. You are focused entirely on the tiger, the fear it creates, and how you can get away from it.

In other words, negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. At that same moment, you might have the option to climb a tree, pick up a leaf, or grab a stick — but your brain ignores all of those options because they seem irrelevant when a tiger is standing in front of you.

This is a useful instinct if you’re trying to save life and limb, but in our modern society we don’t have to worry about stumbling across tigers in the wilderness. The problem is that your brain is still programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way — by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.

For example, when you’re in a fight with someone, your anger and emotion might consume you to the point where you can’t think about anything else.

Or, when you are stressed out about everything you have to get done today, you may find it hard to actually start anything because you’re paralyzed by how long your to–do list has become.

Or, if you feel bad about not exercising or not eating healthy, all you think about is how little willpower you have, how you’re lazy, and how you don’t have any motivation.

In each case, your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative emotions of fear, anger, and stress — just it did with the tiger. Negative emotions prevent your brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround you. It’s your survival instinct.

Now, let’s compare this to what positive emotions do to your brain. This is where Barbara Fredrickson returns to the story.

What Positive Thoughts Do to Your Brain

Fredrickson tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain by setting up a little experiment. During this experiment, she divided her research subjects into 5 groups and showed each group different film clips.

The first two groups were shown clips that created positive emotions. Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy. Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment.

Group 3 was the control group. They saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion.

The last two groups were shown clips that created negative emotions. Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear. Group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.

Afterward, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar feelings would arise and to write down what they would do. Each participant was handed a piece of paper with 20 blank lines that started with the phrase, “I would to…”

Participants who saw images of fear and anger wrote down the fewest responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take, even when compared to the neutral group.

In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions 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.

But that was just the beginning. The really interesting impact of positive thinking happens later…

How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skill Set

The benefits of positive thoughts don’t stop after a few minutes of good feelings subside. In fact, the biggest benefit that positive thoughts provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life.

Let’s consider a real-world example.

A child who runs around outside, swinging on branches and playing with friends, develops the ability to move athletically (physical skills), the ability to play with others and communicate with a team (social skills), and the ability to explore and examine the world around them (creative skills). In this way, the positive emotions of play and joy prompt the child to build skills that are useful and valuable in everyday life.

These skills last much longer than the emotions that initiated them. Years later, that foundation of athletic movement might develop into a scholarship as a college athlete or the communication skills may blossom into a job offer as a business manager. The happiness that promoted the exploration and creation of new skills has long since ended, but the skills themselves live on.

Fredrickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory because positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.

As we discussed earlier, negative emotions do the opposite. Why? Because building skills for future use is irrelevant when there is immediate threat or danger ( the tiger on the path).

All of this research begs the most important question of all: if positive thinking is so useful for developing valuable skills and appreciating the Big Picture of life, how do you actually get yourself to be positive?

How to Increase Positive Thinking in Your Life

What can you do to increase positive thoughts and take advantage of the “broaden and build” theory in your life?

Well, anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love will do the trick. You probably know what things work well for you. Maybe it’s playing the guitar. Maybe it’s spending time with a certain person. Maybe it’s carving tiny wooden lawn gnomes.

That said, here are three ideas for you to consider…

1. Meditation — Recent research by Fredrickson and her colleagues has revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions than those who do not.

As expected, people who meditated also built valuable long–term skills.

For example, three months after the experiment was over, the people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.

Note: If you’re looking for an easy way to start meditation, here is a 10–minute guided meditation that was recently sent to me. Just close your eyes, breathe, and follow along.

2. Writing — this study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, examined a group of 90 undergraduate students who were split into two groups. The first group wrote about an intensely positive experience each day for three consecutive days. The second group wrote about a control topic.

Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses. (This blew me away. Better health after just three days of writing about positive things!)

Note: I used to be very erratic with my writing, but now I publish a new article every Monday and Thursday. I’ve written about my writing process and how you can stick to any goal in a more consistent manner in the articles here, here and here.

3. Play — schedule time to play into your life. We schedule meetings, conference calls, weekly events, and other responsibilities into our daily calendars … why not schedule time to play?

When was the last time you blocked out an hour on your calendar just to explore and experiment? When was the last time you intentionally carved out time to have fun? You can’t tell me that being happy is less important than your Wednesday meeting, and yet, we act it is because we never give it a time and space to live on our calendars.

Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotion. Schedule time for play and adventure so that you can experience contentment and joy, and explore and build new skills.

Note: for more ideas on the importance of play, read this article on how one man cured his anxiety.

Happiness vs. Success (Which Comes First?)

There’s no doubt that happiness is the result of achievement. Winning a championship, landing a better job, finding someone you love — these things will bring joy and contentment to your life. But so often, we wrongly assume that this means happiness always follows success.

How often have you thought, “If I just get ___, then I’ll be set.”

Or, “Once I achieve ___, I’ll be satisfied.”

I know I’m guilty of putting off happiness until I achieve some arbitrary goal. But as Fredrickson’s “broaden and build” theory proves, happiness is essential to building the skills that allow for success.

In other words, happiness is both the precursor to success and the result of it.

In fact, researchers have often noticed a compounding effect or an “upward spiral” that occurs with happy people. They are happy, so they develop new skills, those skills lead to new success, which results in more happiness, and the process repeats itself.

Where to Go From Here

Positive thinking isn’t just a soft and fluffy feel–good term. Yes, it’s great to simply “be happy,” but those moments of happiness are also critical for opening your mind to explore and build the skills that become so valuable in other areas of your life.

Finding ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your life — whether it is through meditation, writing, playing a pickup basketball game, or anything else — provides more than just a momentary decrease in stress and a few smiles.

Periods of positive emotion and unhindered exploration are when you see the possibilities for how your past experiences fit into your future life, when you begin to develop skills that blossom into useful talents later on, and when you spark the urge for further exploration and adventure.

To put it simply: seek joy, play often, and pursue adventure. Your brain will do the rest.


Use the Power of Positive Thinking to Transform Your Life | Brian..

The Benefits of Positive Thinking and Happiness

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

The power of positive thinking is remarkable.

In fact, the idea that your mind can change your world almost seems too good to be true.

I can assure you, however, that I have experienced AND witnessed the good that focusing on the positive can bring.

But before I get into that, let me ask you a question.

Can you guess what the most successful and happy people think about all day long?

The answer is quite simple…

Healthy, happy people think about what they want, and how to get it, most of the time. In this way developing a positive attitude can truly change your entire life.

When you think and talk about what you want and how to get it, you feel happier and in greater control of your life. When you think about something that makes you happy, your brain actually releases endorphins, which give you a generalized feeling of well-being.

As a result, you develop a positive attitude.

How to Think Positive

many psychological tests, happy people seem to have a special quality that enables them to live a better life than the average.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s the quality of optimism!

The best news about optimism is that it is a learnable quality. That means you can learn how to think positive by taking adopting an optimistic mindset.

By the law of cause and effect, if you do and say what other healthy, happy people with positive attitudes do and say, you will soon feel the same way, get the same results, and enjoy the same experiences that they do.

Happy People Find Good in the World

Optimists seem to have different ways of dealing with the world that set them apart from the average.

  1. First, they keep their minds on what they want, and keep looking for ways to get it.  They are clear about goals and they are confident that they will accomplish them, sooner or later.
  2. Second, optimists look for the good in every problem or difficulty.  When things go wrong, as they often do, they say, “That’s good!”  And then set about finding something positive about the situation.

What we know is that, if you are looking for something good or beneficial in a person or situation, you will always find it.  And while you are looking, you will be a more positive and cheerful person.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Optimists seek the valuable lesson in every setback or reversal.  Rather than getting upset and blaming someone else for what has happened, they take control over their emotions by saying, “What can I learn from this experience?” 

Resolve today to learn how to develop positive thinking and a positive attitude toward yourself, the people around you and your life.

How Do You Train Your Mind to Think Positive?

Training your mind to think positive can be achieved by leveraging a simple concept. Your mind has enough bandwidth to only focus on one thought at a time. All you have to do is keep it focused on uplifting thoughts until you form the same types of neural pathways that are created when you establish a new habit.

When a negative event occurs, remember that it’s your response that truly determines the outcome. Always look for the positive response or optimistic lesson when such events take place.

Positive affirmations are positive phrases that can be repeated over and over to teach you how to get rid of negative thoughts and encourage a positive attitude.

I also find motivation from inspirational quotes and messages to be very useful when trying to induce positive thoughts.

Decide To Be Happy

Resolve from now to see your glass of life as half full rather than half empty. Happy people give thanks for the many blessings in life rather than worrying or complaining about the things they do not have.

Assume the best of intentions on the part of everyone around you.  Most people are pretty decent, honest and are trying to do the very best they know how to.  When you look for something good in their words and actions, you will almost always find something.

Finally, resolve to be cheerful, no matter what happens.

Looking on the bright side is most important when things go wrong.

Your Positive Attitude in Action

It is easy to to be cheerful when everything is going according to plan.  But, it is when you encounter unexpected setbacks and difficulties that you demonstrate to yourself, and the world around you, what kind of an attitude you really have.

Make sure that it is a positive one!

How Positive Thinking Can Help You

Developing a positive attitude can help you in more ways than you might realize. When you think positive thoughts, you don’t allow your mind (conscious or subconscious) to entertain any negative thoughts or doubts.

After you learn how to think positive, you will notice amazing changes all around you.

Your brain will actually begin to operate in a state of free-flowing feel-good hormones called endorphins, which will make you feel lighter and happier.

You’ll also notice a major boost in confidence and will feel more capable of taking on new assignments and challenges that might have previously been outside your comfort zone.

By reducing your self-limiting beliefs, you will effectively release your brakes and experience growth you never imagined. Essentially, you can change your entire life simply by harnessing the power of positive thinking.

Thank you for reading my blog about the power of positive thinking and developing a positive attitude. I hope it will inspire you to see the good in others and help you to improve your life.

Did you know that self-confidence and positive thinking can be achieved through goal-setting? It all starts with my 14-Step Goal-Setting Guide.

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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today.

He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement.

Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on , , , Pinterest, Linkedin and .


Positive Thinking: 10 Powerful Benefits You Need To Know

The Benefits of Positive Thinking and Happiness
[Disclaimers and Disclosures]

Positive thinking is not what we commonly get told, to keep up a smiling face and think positive no matter what. That is toxic positivity — when we are trying to look and act happy while bottling up the negative feelings. That kind of positivity is unrealistic to start with and confidence-breaking in the end.

Positive thinking is about dealing with the hardships of life from a positive standpoint. It means even if we are wading through a mire of distress, we can claim a little sunshine for ourselves.

What is positive thinking?
Positive thinking involves approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It means one can focus on the positive things in life while also staying attentive to the negative things. It is more about your positive-focused attitude in times of distress.

10 Powerful Benefits of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking has a profound impact on our mental well-being, physical health, relationships, and work-life quality.

Here are ten powerful benefits of positive thinking:

  1. More productivity
  2. Greater resilience
  3. Better relationships
  4. Lower stress and anxiety
  5. Less sadness and depression
  6. More kindness and helpfulness
  7. Reduced risk of heart diseases
  8. Stronger connection to humanity
  9. Better health and wellbeing
  10. Higher overall immunity

1. More productivity

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 author concludes, “The science of happiness at work delivers return on investment and strategic outcomes when properly implemented.”

2. Greater resilience

The fact is, we always have some sound reasons to feel pessimistic about the future, and that’s how life goes. More so in these tough times of this Covid19 pandemic. But when we know it’s outside our control until a vaccine is in place, a negative mode of thinking will trigger only more misery and insomnia.

Therefore, despite the difficulties and uncertainties ahead, nurturing a positive outlook can make our present happier.

3. Better relationships

The energy you carry with you is contagious, whether positive or negative. A negative attitude not only prevents you from enjoying your life to the full, but it also has a sizable impact on people around you. So, cultivating a positive attitude is one of the best things you could offer your family, organization, and community.

Since a positive mindset makes it easy to express thankfulness, feel kindness, and be more in love, your relationships grow into more fulfilling ones.See also  Waking Up Early: 10 Best Benefits And 5 Easiest Steps

You too can form a habit of positivity by making slight adjustments to your daily life and mindset. It will make you, and all you interact with, happier.

Positive thinking means approaching the challenges of daily living with an optimistic and hopeful outlook. It means having a positive stance on your present and your future life. It means seeing yourself and your abilities in a positive light no matter whatever the number of unjust criticisms you are handed over.

Positive thinking people accept that things always do not turn out as they want them to, because mistakes are what normal humans make. They also stay optimistic about the future as they learn from those mistakes.

4. Lower stress and anxiety

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 the inflammatory damage of stress.

5. Less sadness and depression

Depression affects over 100 million people worldwide. American Psychological Association recommends treatment with 10 psychotherapy sessions combined with antidepressant medication for optimal care of moderate to severe depression. Both therapeutic interventions come at a high price.

Positive activity interventions (PAIs) teach individuals ways to increase their positive thinking, positive affect, and positive behaviors. Common positive interventions include writing letters of gratitude,counting one’s blessings, practicing optimism, performing acts of kindness, meditating on positive feelings toward others, and using one’s signature strengths.

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 for enhancing well-being and improving depressive symptoms.

6. More kindness and helpfulness

Positivity enhances 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 wellbeing.

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, are three of the best activities you can do to build a strong positive mindset.See also  What Is Hope? Why It's Important To Hope? [Psychology]

7. Reduced risk of heart diseases

In UK, researchers looked at psychological traits of 8,000+ people, and found those who were high on optimism and felt a better sense of wellbeing 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 positive psychological traits seemed to lower risks of having a heart attack significantly. These traits included optimism (38% lower risk), positive outlook (32%), and having a purpose in life (27%).

8. Stronger connection to humanity

People who are more positive do not jump to judge other people, avoid angry interchanges, and do not respond thusly 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 health and 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 seventh- to ninth-grade students 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 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

A mind that is positive, optimistic, and worry-free can contribute to a more resilient immune system. With a positive attitude, thus you can protect yourself from several illnesses.

Why Is Positive Thinking Important

Positive thinking is important because it has wholesome effects on the brain and the body. Positive thinking opens our minds to a wider range of options and actions. It leads us to actively practice hope and optimism, challenge a pessimistic outlook, and manage stress effectively.

Psychologists have studied the impact of positive thinking extensively and found there are many perks of practicing it. A higher level of happiness and life satisfaction is one of them.

As we know, “happiness” has attracted a lot of public interest in the last few years.

We study happiness, life satisfaction, and the science of well-being in a special branch called positive psychology.

It deals with:

  • positive emotions ( hope and optimism),
  • positive experiences ( wins and successes), and
  • positive institutions ( good marriages and great places of work).

Barbara Fredrickson, one of the first researchers in positive psychology, dug up some interesting findings on positive thinking during her research.

Fredrickson’s study had five separate groups of participants. Her research team showed the first and the second groups a few video clips that produced positive emotions, joy and contentment.

The third group was a control group, and they did not get to see any clips. The last two groups watched clips that produced negative emotions, fear and anger.

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Then they asked all the participants to imagine themselves in situations similar to those in the video clips. Finally, they began the questioning.

They noticed those in the first two groups gave significantly more solutions than those in the last two groups. This led the researchers to conclude that the participants who saw clips evoking positive emotions saw more possibilities for their this ad

This was the evidence that positive emotions broaden people’s attention and thinking. And this enables them to draw on higher-level connections, use a wider range of ideas and behaviors, and build meaningful mental resources.

Induced positive emotions 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).

In simple words, Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory says frequent positive emotions expand our outlooks in ways that, little by little, reshape who we are. An attitude of positive thinking and having positive emotions open us to new possibilities and sets us on a trajectory of personal growth.

Final Words

We remind you once again that positive thinking does not imply looking away from bad or stressful situations, but seeing the bright side when into one of them.

The good thing is we can learn to adopt positive thinking with little effort. Once these exercises form into a habit, your ability to maintain an attitude of positive thinking will increase manifold.

Some proven ways to cultivate a positive thinking mindset are writing a gratitude journal, being mindfully present, savoring the good things in one’s life, focusing on the flow of the process, engaging in positive self-talk, and being generous.

A mindset of positivity doesn’t mean one keeps their head buried in the sand to save themselves from facing difficult and unpleasant situations in life.

Positive psychology says a positive mindset is a key characteristic of happier people.

How To Have A Positive Mindset Scientifically

• • •

Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy – a medical doctor, psychology writer, happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.

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