Are you a master at positive thinking? Or are you like Debbie Downer, that cranky character on SNL who has a negative spin on everything? Sure, work is ultra-stressful, the economy is terrible and your family is causing you premature graying. But simply because there are plenty of reasons to be a glass-half-empty kind of gal, doesn´t mean that you should be. According to Forbes Magazine’s Margie Warrell, being an optimist won´t just make you happier and healthier, “it will make you wealthier.” A study she cited found that ten years after graduation, law students who were optimistic earned an average of $32,667 more than their glass-half-empty peers.
Negativity is also bad for your health, while optimism works wonders. The Mayo Clinic’s editorial team reported that positive thinking may increase your life span and make you more resistant to the common cold. Why does this occur? One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to handle a stressful situation better, which helps reduce the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It’s also thought that optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles by exercising more, eating healthier, not smoking, and not being heavy drinkers.
Like any skill worth mastering in life, there’s an art to being able to see that glass half full. It has to do with the way we motivate ourselves throughout the day and how we talk ourselves out of those dark caves we enclose our minds into, full of fear and pessimistic thoughts. Though mastering the art of positive thoughts won’t happen overnight, with practice, eventually your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. If there are some days that you can’t help but see that glass as half empty, bordering on a complete global drought, don’t give up so fast. Here are some ways to practice positive thinking every day.
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The phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” actually seems to have some scientific validity in lifting your mood. Not only will removing that pout and putting on a smile, even when faked, send positive messages to your brain, scientists have proven that how you carry yourself also has a huge impact on how you feel. So sit up straight and don´t slump those shoulders. Look up when you walk, not down to the ground. Stand tall, chin up, smile and engage with people as though you were the optimistic and successful person you aspire to be. This will help you attract positive people and opportunities into your life.
Another way to master positive thinking is to constantly surround yourself with upbeat people who you will eventually attract with your new attitude. These folks inspire a sunnier kind of thinking; depressive-type vampires will only suck the life out of you with their complaints and gloomy commentary. So lighten up a little and try to find the humor in things and with other people. Laughter is a highly effective antidote to anxiety. Watching a funny movie before you go to sleep or spending time with someone who makes you laugh is a sure path toward optimism.
As the NY Times tells it, completely ignore the ‘you will fail at this!’ kind of self-talk and dwell on the positive aspects of a situation you have to confront. For instance, if you have a presentation at work you haven’t fully prepared for, just think to yourself that you are going to do excellent and chances are it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The saying goes that where pessimists see problems, optimists find opportunities.
The key to being an optimist is being a good friend to yourself, the kind that pats you on the back and gives you a pep talk when you feel down. Regardless of the nature of your work, identify some aspect of it that is personally fulfilling. If your job is cleaning windows, for instance, stand back and admire how crystal clean they look when you´re finished. Start your day with an intention, a goal to do something out of your comfort zone, like inviting someone you like out for a drink or sending out your resume to three potential employers. Ending your day on an upbeat note is also key, so be sure to reflect on a few positive things that happened that day and then get ready to conquer tomorrow, with a smile.