By SHANNON SKAE, health and life coach at Revive with Shan
The age-old sayings everyone seems to use when someone is down or upset are “chin up,” “think positively,” “just get on with it,” or “just keep pushing through”. This article is about establishing whether thinking positively is helpful or whether it just makes someone who is depressed or sad feel even more demotivated.
Put it this way: if you see the glass as half empty instead of half full, then maybe this article is for you.
What is positive thinking?
This is where a person thinks from a positive perspective, tries to keep in mind all the good things happening in their lives, and compliments others and themselves. Positive thinking is about being optimistic rather than pessimistic. It is about having a positive attitude towards life and yourself.
Thinking positively is said to reduce stress and improve overall health and wellbeing. Positive thinking does not mean you must ignore the bad things that happen to you but instead encourages you to approach unpleasant things from a positive and productive outlook.
Taking this approach is said to increase lifespan, lower rates of depression, lower levels of pain, help fight illness and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. A person with positive thinking also has better coping skills.
There is, therefore, some merit in positive thinking and optimism.
However, when someone has a severe mental illness or is severely depressed or anxious, thinking positively might add to their distress. In this case, it would be best to seek help from a psychologist or a psychiatrist to seek medical treatment, as thinking positively will most likely feel impossible at this point.
For someone not in such a state, thinking with a positive attitude could help towards a healthier and happier way of life.
Remember, it is not about thinking positively all the time, as this is unrealistic, but knowing that positive thinking is helpful will hopefully guide you towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Here are some ways to build positive thinking:
- Positive self-talk by using reframing (reframe the negative into the positive)
- Checking yourself when you do talk negatively to yourself
- Be open to jokes and humor
- Surround yourself with optimistic people
- Exercise and eat healthily
- Smile often
- Writing out positive thoughts or things you are grateful for
- Look up positive and inspirational quotes on the internet
- Play and have fun with friends
- A gratitude journal
As Fyodor Dostoevsky writes, “Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”
Seek to balance your outlook on life.