Does thinking positively really work. (Most of us would prefer to be positive rather than negative.) … 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.
Once upon a time, I was a sucker for pseudo health trends. Granted, this was before researching buzz-worthy products and programs in the space to determine whether or not they were actually legit was my job. Still, you can’t deny truth, and the truth is, there are a lot of pseudo health and holistic trends out there that you really shouldn’t buy into, like drinking raw milk straight from a cow’s udder, or gulping down bottles on bottles of unfiltered water. However, there are some “it” trends that are actually the real deal. For example, positive thinking really does work, and science has the statistics to back that up. In other words, you know all those times your mom and dad told you “life is all about attitude”? Well, it wasn’t just their clever way to get you to stop whining; it was actually some pretty solid life advice.
Why yes, I do know how cheesy this all sounds, but seriously, can you really hate on an honest attempt to try and spread a little positivity in the world? If so, sorry not sorry, but I’m judging you. In all seriousness, though, actively putting in the work to change a negative thought into something positive is the real deal. No, happy thoughts won’t exactly make you fly like folktales of Peter Pan might’ve led you to believe once upon a time, but it can definitely uplift your mood a little bit and possibly shed light on an otherwise dark and gloomy situation. My advice? Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.
I’m sure you’ve had moments when you’ve gabbed to a girlfriend or trusted co-worker about something that was eating away at you — like a blowout with your SO, or feeling under-appreciated at the office — just to get it off your chest. But what if you were to take those frustrations out on paper? Or better yet, what if you could find way to let it all out in ink and identify the positives in the situation to help you flip your perspective on the whole thing?
To find out if positive thinking really works, researchers recruited 71 participants between the ages of 19 and 77 years old and split them into two groups. In the study, which has been published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, one group was instructed to log “the most wonderful experiences of their life” for 20 minutes per day for three consecutive days, while the second was told to spend the same amount of time writing about more neutral subjects, like what they planned on doing later that day. After comparing the participants’ anxiety levels before and after the experiment, the research showed that those who wrote about positive experiences had less stress, anxiety, and physical complaints than those scribbling on about their daily to-dos.
Now, is this a coincidence? The researchers think not. Michael Smith, an author on the study and an associate professor of psychology at Northumbria University in Newcastle, explained in an article for The Conversation that the participants who wrote down positive thoughts reported four weeks out from the experiment that they were still feeling significantly less stressed and anxious, “regardless of the levels of distress” they were battling at the start of the study.