According to the National Science foundation you produce around 50,000 thoughts a day. That’s a staggering number, and certainly something to think about, right.
From those 50,000 thoughts, 70-80% will be negative thoughts. This is another statistic that came as surprise to me, and I’m guessing to you too? So you can look at that as around 40,000 negative thoughts a day.
This illustrates that the average person is spending a lot of their time having negative thoughts.
Obviously not everyone reading this is going to agree, and I am sure some of you are particularly happy people, and that’s great. But even if you are twice as positive as the average person, you are still having around 20,000 negative thoughts a day.
There is a reason why we have so many negative thoughts, and it’s not just dealing with day-to-day stresses. Research has found that negative thoughts and emotions prompt your brain to take specific actions. These thoughts are action provoking thoughts, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
For example, consider you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. Your fear – which is a negative thought, will push you to take action and remove yourself from the dangerous situation. This deep intrinsic reaction is what helped us survive and evolve to where we are today. But in modern day life there is a blurred line, most of us will rarely if ever find ourselves in immediate danger.
Our minds are still inherently programmed to attach to negative thoughts, ignoring other options and actions while focusing on self-preservation. As we are going through these thoughts and emotions we often don’t stop and access the situation and realize everything is fine. There is no life-threatening danger.
For another example, think about the last stressful day you had at work. You will have been consumed with all kinds of worries and emotions, and it will have likely overflowed into your evening making it difficult for you to unwind and enjoy time with your family. If you then have an argument with your partner it will feel worse than it should, and you will make a bigger deal out of it than you ordinarily would have.
Just as happens in a situation when we are presented with life-threatening danger, our brains narrow in on the negative thoughts, blocking out other positive thoughts that may lead to a more controlled resolve. Without being able to take a moment to reflect on the situation and distinguish between life-threatening, and damaging a relationship, you can find yourself in a much worse position.
The natural instinctual reaction is that negative thoughts keep you alive. While this may be true in some rare instance, and are important when needed – it’s unlikely in daily life. In fact, all these negative thoughts are likely doing a lot more damage than good. There is plenty of evidence that positive thinking, and having a positive mental attitude enhances your life and increases your life expectancy.
With all of this in mind, here are 9 reasons to have a positive attitude in life:
You Can Open Your Mind to More Possibilities by Thinking Positively
Negative thinking narrows down your thoughts, while positive thinking does the opposite. By thinking positively you can open up your mind to a much wider range of possibilities, options, and choices.
In a survival situation, thinking positively can actually help you make better decisions. Having to make a fast decision can be stressful and confusing, often leading to the wrong decision. A positive mind-set allows you to consider the best option in the long-term, not just the short-term.
This applies wonderfully to everyday life, having the ability to recognize a wider range of options can completely turn a potentially bad situation around. Arguments, disagreements, difference of opinion, all these negative situations can escalate without the clarity and communication to address them positively.
You Can Build New Skills with Positive Thinking
Negative thoughts and emotions prohibit our willingness to learn new skills. New skills are fundamental is out personal growth, and have a wide range of benefits for us not only now but later in life.
A negative attitude keeps us trapped in a circle of the same thoughts, while a positive attitude opens us up to try new things, learn new skills, and meet new people. All valuable assets that can lead on to new job prospects, new relationships, and developing new habits and hobbies that enrich our lives.
Ever wondered why or how something worked out realty well for you? Think back, it was probably because you put yourself in a good position and was willing to try something. This was led by the positive thought process that you wanted to see what would happen.
Being Optimistic Helps You Deal with Stress
Having an optimistic outlook has shown to reduce the feelings of stress people experience in day-to-day life. When you take an optimistic look at things, you will notice negative emotions being pushed into the background. It’s easier said than done sometimes, as life is backed with stressful situations.
Workplace stress, getting caught in traffic, money worries, and relationship issues can drag you down. You are able to take control and make the decision to shrug it off and move forward. When reducing mental stress by being optimistic you’ll see the physical benefits following.
You Can Boost Your Immunity with Positive Thinking
Having positive thoughts stimulates your body, your leukocytes, and adrenal cells to produce bio-chemical’s similar to Valium. The good news is that your body’s own natural chemicals are free of any side effects or complications. Just natural, good feelings and a boost in your immune system.
Studies have been carried by the University of Kentucky over time on a group of law students. Their immune levels were tracked as they worked though their studies, and as they became more positive and optimistic their immune systems become stronger. Conversely, those students who became pessimistic were recorded as having a reduced immune system.
Depression Is Reduced by Positive Thinking
Feeling helpless and hopeless are two key features of being depressed. Pessimistic thoughts alone don’t cause depression, but it’s believed that such thoughts can help trap you in a circle of negative thoughts – making it easier to become, and stay depressed. People who are depressed have a higher risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, substance dependency, and suicide.
There is plenty of evidence to show that being optimistic can protect you from some of the effects of depression. While being pessimistic feeds those negative thoughts and distorts how you perceive things. Being optimistic can stop you from having these thoughts. In fact, in recent years it’s become more popular for therapists to use optimistic stimulating activities to combat depression in their patients.
When you are able to reflect and engage in being self-aware, you can challenge negative thoughts. By replacing these thoughts with more positive, optimistic thoughts you can start achieving goals and making progress in a positive direction.
You Can Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease with a Positive Attitude
Studies carried out at the Harvard School of Public Health have proven that having a positive attitude, and being optimistic, is linked to lower risk of heart disease and stroke. If this is not reason enough to work on being more positive, I’m not sure what is.
There is also research to suggest that positive thinking people are less likely to be obese, have high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Positive Attitudes Encourage Healthier Lifestyle Choices
The same study at the Harvard School of Public Health found that optimistic people had healthier all round lifestyles. They were taking part in exercise routines, had better diets, and better sleeping habits.
When you have an optimistic outlook on life you see the benefit of healthy lifestyle choices. Plus, you are more motivated to take action on positive thoughts, with and without others.
Prevent illness with a positive sense of humor
Ever noticed how you don’t find things funny when you are feeling down and having negative thoughts? Being in a negative state of mind clouds your emotions and prevents you being happy.
Having a positive sense of humor has a wide range of health benefits. You will strengthen your immune system, helping you keep colds and flu at bay, and decreasing your chance of more serious illnesses including cancer.
Increase Your Social Circle with Positive Thinking
Having a positive attitude is much more likely to attract other people to engage with you. People love being around positive and confident people, and it’s contagious. When you are optimistic and positive you are less self-focused and more open to helping others.
You’ll be much more aware of other people’s feelings, showing interest in how they are doing and being empathetic towards them. You will notice your circle of friends all helping each other be more positive, and if someone does feel down – they will be lifted back up easier.
The strength of friends and positive thinking is a powerful network. Being caring and loving to each other releases stress-reducing hormones, and gives you peace of mind that you have a network in place to lean on in times of need.
Build Your Confidence with Positive Thinking
Confidence is a life changer. Being more confident can open all sorts of doors and completely change the direction your life is going in for the better. Confidence itself is not something you can easily switch on and off, but thinking positively will be a huge help.
For example, if you have a job interview coming up, thinking positively and not allowing worst case scenarios to cloud your mind will help you perform at your best. Sitting upright, talking confidently, and being able to explain yourself and come across well are keys to a successful interview. By having a positive and confident mind-set, should failure happen you’ll feel better about dealing with it.
If you’re the kind of person to look for the worst in a situation, or expect the worst to happen – it’s worth you taking the time to take steps towards changing your attitude. As I explained, having negative thoughts is perfectly normal, and changing the way we think is something we consciously need to do.
I listed enough mental, spiritual, and health benefits above to give you the motivational kick you should need to start changing your attitude. Become aware of how you are thinking, and how you deal with adversity.
Don’t allow your own negative thoughts to rob you of the good health, happiness, and great experiences that you deserve. Start making changes today, think positive, be optimistic, and embrace the change.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has changed the way they think, and experienced some positive life changing experiences because of it. If you have any other reasons to have a positive attitude, please share them. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.