"You are what you believe yourself to be" - Paulo Coehlo
Positive thinking is a modern and recent addition to the human behaviour family and looks at how we can improve our lives and health simply by being more positive. Work, families, friends and other aspects of our lives can often run us down making it difficult to feel optimistic and hopeful when dealing with the daily stresses such as running a household. As women in general, we can often feel that we must be strong at all times and we are also less likely to admit to ourselves and others if we felt like we were not coping with daily stresses. The good news is that by thinking more positively, we are able to cope with much more than we realise.
It is worth noting that before we can train ourselves to think positively, we need to believe that this is possible and that being positive is a choice. We are not born with a negative outlook on life, we simply learn this. Therefore, we can also learn to have a healthier outlook by accepting that everything in our life is there for a reason and that how we cope with these are within our control. So, how do we do this?
Firstly, we change our negativity levels by analysing our stresses objectively. Is it really the end of the world if we haven’t managed to do our laundry for one week? What does it really mean if your manager does not like your ideas for a new project? If one of your children happens to not be doing so well on a particular subject, does this means they will never succeed in life? By picking the situation apart and rationally thinking about what this really means, we often go for the worst case scenario but neglect to remember that the absolute worse than can happen often doesn’t happen. Positive thinking therefore refers to thinking about the best case scenario; by not doing your laundry, you finally get to wear some of your neglected dresses. Your manager does in fact like your ideas, but for a different project. Is your child bad at maths? Well, he/she might be brilliant at science.
Secondly, we have to recognise and learn to value our assurance in everything we do. This is the part of us that deals with what exactly we are capable of and our abilities to cope with the day-to-day running of our lives. It is also that little voice that tells us “we can and will succeed”. Research shows that believing in this voice can actually lead us to feel like we have a better quality of our lives. By having confidence in how we cope with daily stresses, we also improve our problem solving abilities. This means that we tend to be more actively involved by going out and finding solutions to issues. So in other words, we are much better at dealing with things if we think we’re capable of dealing with them.
Thirdly, we accept that a little stress is actually quite good for us. Ever wondered why you work well under the pressure of a deadline? Or why you shop more efficiently if you’ve only got half an hour? The right amount of stress triggers your mind to gather up the knowledge and skills you need for that particular task, whilst your body prepares the amount of energy you may need. This being said, the right amount of stress is different for everyone. Stress is only useful if it helps us cope with other stresses and loses its use when it gets in the way of coping with our daily activities.
So in a nutshell, by thinking of the best case scenarios, believing in our ability to cope with things and accepting that a little stress is okay, we are allowing ourselves to become more optimistic and efficient.
Positive thinking does not only do wonders for our emotional and psychological wellbeing but it’s also thought to improve our physical health. Research goes as far as to suggest that by thinking positively you can reduce cardiovascular health issues, lower rates of depression and that ultimately you may live longer. Glass half full anyone?