First Things First: What is Positivity?
Positivity or positive thinking refers to the frequent flow of pleasant thoughts and emotions in your daily lives. It involves training your mind to see things a little differently from the norm, being optimistic and hoping for the best. Positive thinking and mental attitude can also be seen in how you react to events and situations on a daily basis.
Check this video I made a few months ago on the power of Positivity. It covers the first three sections of this article.
3 to 1 ratio
Your mind is constantly overwhelmed by thoughts. These thoughts govern your actions and attitudes. Thoughts could be positive or negative. The more frequent positive thoughts you process, the more you approach positivity. To be considered totally positive, the negative must supersede to a ratio of 1 to 3 of positive thoughts. This is because you can’t exterminate negative thoughts totally but what you can do is to marginalize their presence in your thoughts.
Negative VRs positive
As you think, thoughts could be negative or positive. There’s, therefore, the constant battle between negative and positive. The victor determines a huge part of your life. But this isn’t just an automated activity, you have a choice. What you decide to think and dwell upon increases and eventually dominates your thoughts and affects your life.
Evolution of negative emotions
If you were to see a tiger or lion on your way, I’d bet the first thing you’ll do is to consider running. Your mind is biased when it comes to emotions. When we are faced with a threat, we immediately withdraw to our hard-wired thoughts which are oftentimes negative. In the case of the lion, fear triggers your desire to run. You may not find lions and tigers in your everyday life but you do face threats, and what do you do when you are faced with them? You run! and don’t even have the mind to logically consider your options. This is the problem when you dwell so much on negative thoughts in your lives. You miss the opportunities in the little threats you face in life.
Tim Ferris makes a good point about this in his book, “The obstacle is the way”. The key thinking is that positive thinking has always been a great influencer of fortunes. People who learn to see the opportunities in the storm get rewarded with huge profits and are celebrated.
The psychology of positive thinking
Thoughts are a normal phenomenon in each person’s life. Thoughts help us to process the information we receive through our senses and to make action decisions out of them. What we often consider to be a random flow of thoughts isn’t actually random. Deep within your mind, what matters most to you is what you focus on. Focus is a very powerful tool and like any other tool, it could mean good or bad depending on how it is being used. What you focus on deeply and intently grows. Have you ever had a situation you wanted to go away but the more you thought about it, the more it seemed to heighten and become engraved? It is basically a function of your focus.
Sometimes, by simply anticipating a bad future event, you may start to feel anxious and bad all of a sudden. This is a result of your anticipation which makes the perceived future event seem so real that your natural reactions step in and you feel anxious. This is why you need to counter negative thoughts with more positive thoughts.
Repetitive Negative Thinking (RNT) and Being Positive
Repetitive Negative Thinking gets bad when It affects your self-beliefs. At this stage, you may begin to sabotage your own actions. For example, you have wanted to start a business for long. You shared the thought with some friends and family and all they could do was tell you how you would fail and you couldn’t ever find money to start. So much negative talk. This gets into your inner self and you eventually upon a few tries give in and start to believe your friends and family. This is where it gets worse because you would either quit completely or begin to sabotage your actions because of this new negative self-belief. You may do poor jobs because you don’t believe you could do well which further strengths your beliefs.
Positive people feel calm and more confident because they aren’t engulfed by fear or anxiety about any bad happenings. They have a good sense of self-concept and self-awareness which allows them to evaluate situations quite well regardless of what others think and their own negative self-talk. They simply try their best to imagine the best out of every situation. This doesn’t mean blindly thinking everything will be good. Sometimes, anticipating bad events help to mitigate them. The key point is to assure yourself that it isn’t a permanent thing and that you will get through it. This kind of thinking changes your approach and attitude.
Positive psychology Vs Positive thinking
According to Wikiversity, Positive thinking can be defined as a method to achieve health and happiness. It concentrates on positive qualities such as inner peace, strength, love, joy, and happiness. Positive thinking is a mental technique, that must be practiced wisely. It should not be misused to repress feelings (such as sadness, depression, loneliness, etc.) or problems that you want to get out of. Positive thinking must be used sensitively and healingly.
Positive psychology is defined by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania as “The scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.”
First of all, both concepts are very similar and have the same goals: to enable individuals to achieve a happy, fulfilling and loving life. Both also aim to do this through a considerable Mindshift toward events and situations. The difference is the method used and how scientific they are. Positive psychology uses the scientific method to research and prove the effectiveness or otherwise of methods while positive thinking sort of does it using arbitrary methods that others have seen success with.
How positive thinking affects the brain
Thoughts are constantly changing how our brain looks physically and how it works. Constant thoughts and actions tend to strengthen certain connections or synapses between neurons. These form habits as they strengthen so as you do something more and more, it increasingly becomes easier to do. This applies to both actions and thinking habits. We have both thinking habits and action habits. If you are prone to negative thoughts, more will pop up and they would eventually get strengthened by continuous and constant thinking in that regard to becoming a habit.
However, positive thoughts would have good effects on your thinking patterns and life. As you continually create positive thoughts, your life and actions become motive oriented. You stand more chances of living with optimism than pessimism.
This is evident from what scientists call neuroplasticity.
“It refers to the physiological changes in the brain that happen as the result of our interactions with our environment. From the time the brain begins to develop in utero until the day we die, the connections among the cells in our brains reorganize in response to our changing needs. This dynamic process allows us to learn from and adapt to different experiences” – Celeste Campbell (n.d.).
Is being positive the same as being Optimistic?
In some way, these two words carry some similarities which often gets them confused as the same thing. Being optimistic has a futuristic aspect to it while positive thinking is more focused on the present. “Look on the bright side” and “I’m doing great” are a few examples of positive thinking. They often sound like wishful thinking or a trick on the mind against a bad or potentially bad event. To some extent this is good such as calming you down to face your fears, “I will get through this”. Positive thinking is often achieved through vague affirmations you say to yourself anytime you need to get into that mood.
Optimism looks into the future and makes a positive proclamation to it. It is “Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something” It considers that the future will be successful but has cognizance of possible problems and therefore plans for them. “Even though it looks bad, I know we are more than capable of surmounting the challenges and winning this competition” would e a good example for an optimist to say in a competition against a formidable opponent.
Characteristics of a Positive person (Positive thinking)
Mindfulness is a key characteristic of positive people. The past cannot be changed. We can only act to mitigate bring to reality anticipated future events. In that regard, we haven’t much power. This is why the need to concentrate and focus on the present is so important. The only power you have is in the present. Quitting trying to influence both past and future events will give you the energy and power to do what is necessary to not repeat past mistakes and to ensure a good future.
Positive people are always thankful for all blessings, big and small. It takes a positive person to appreciate the small things like waking up from bed alive, the good air you breathe and what you have that others pray and work for daily. What you have may be small but there is definitely a person praying for what you have. It is often easy to cherish things when we don’t have them compared to after we finally get them. It becomes a loop. You chase a car and when you get the car, you get bored with it and want another one. This attitude steals the joy that comes with acquiring that first car. There are so many things you can be grateful for and if you search for them you shall find them.
Looks for the best in others
It is often easy for positive people to Forgive. They look for the best in others so they don’t base their thinking on all the bad things they did in the past but the potential they have to do good. Positive people consciously try to Build up other people. Helping others and giving back to society as a way of expressing gratitude is something they love to do.
An important characteristic of positive people is that they are almost eternally optimistic and they often expect good things will happen. They also yearn to make the most of their life
By identifying the silver lining in negative circumstances.
Sense of Humor
Being serious is a good thing and life calls for it at certain times. But if you know that laughter is medicine then you definitely should add some humor to spice up your life. Positive thinkers have a cool way of mixing up humor with life that makes them infectious in spreading their positive attitude and mental habits. Be around positive people more often you’d find yourself laughing at life and feeling good.
Good at adapting to situations
One thing that sets positive people apart is that they Let things happen and surrender control. They simply let things happen. This doesn’t mean they’re being laissez-faire or lazy. There are certain things you cannot put a stop to and neither can you make them happen. Positive thinkers know this and don’t waste their time on them. They simply are mindful of the events and refuse to be reactive. Being reactive could be a very disruptive trait to have. Most of the time, what you need is to be proactive and accept what comes your way afterward. This sums their ability to adapt to situations without reacting in detrimental ways.
Self-confidence powers a positive thinker. They accept their mistakes and maintain comfort in saying “I’m sorry” thus expressing regret and seeking penance for their actions. They also treat themselves with kindness just as they do the same to others. Their confidence allows them to Take chances because they’re not controlled by fear.
Avoids complaining and gossiping.
This one is a golden rule for being a positive person. Complaining and gossiping don’t make any changes to situations. Such an attitude rather stirs up negative feelings and conflict which aren’t in the focus of positive thinkers. Positive people focus on creating solutions through consensus and understanding.
Importance and benefits of being a positive person in life and work
Being positive makes you feel good about yourself, others and the things around you.
In general, it gives you a positive outlook on anything you focus on. This helps you develop happy and sustainable relationships as you make very good first impressions when you meet new people. Negativity, on the other hand, will keep all the imaginable bad things in your mind, therefore, increasing the presence of such events and people in your life.
Ability to cope with hard times and provides you more energy for production times.
Once we focus on the positive, the good, we see good in every situation even though others may see it to be a bad thing. This mental hack allows us to see the light at the end of every dark tunnel. We learn to adapt to the dark times knowing that with time, success shall be ours.
More courage and higher self-esteem.
Your Attitudes determine much of how your day turns out to be because it determines your reaction to what happens around us. Attitudes and thoughts affect how you feel about yourself. All thoughts and attitudes are dictated by your mind from which comes positivity and negativity. This is your choice daily, to be positive or negative. Choose rightly.
Good general health
Good health comes from healthy thoughts. Healthy thoughts are positive thoughts that provide us courage, hope, the feeling of love, etc. Such emotions give us a reason to live. Some way somehow, your body can read your thoughts and act according to if we so much desire good things in your lives. Research shows that people who practice positive thinking generally have healthier lives and relationships than others who are loaded with negativity.
Can positive thinking change your life?
All that you have read so far may make you think positive thinking, having a positive mental attitude and mindset, is your best to live your dream life of happiness and love. It is true that being positive can literally change your life. It is scientifically proven that your thoughts have influence over your health and other aspects of your life. Bad and negative thoughts can cause sickness while positive and good thoughts can release you of sickness and unnecessary pain.
That said, positive thinking isn’t always the way to go. And positive thinking can’t solve all problems nor cure all kinds of sicknesses.
Often, people with good self-esteem do well with being positive and possessing a positive mindset and attitude. People with high self-esteem see themselves as capable and thy deeply believe the affirmations they make because of their self-confidence.
The opposite effect is realized with people with very low self-esteem. These people at their core don’t believe these affirmations and positive statements that positive thinking encourages us to say. This causes an even more serious problem for such people. Because they don’t believe it, it becomes some sort of deception and illusionistic behavior. Such people would first need to build up their esteem levels before trying to practice any form of positive thinking. The first step would help them have a deep belief in themselves and being positive minded would simply be an augmentation of what they already have deep within them.
Top tips on how to cultivate the habit of positive thinking
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Watch your thoughts and develop more positive self-talk
- Use affirmations which mean a thing to you
- Evaluate your day and actions Journaling could help
- Find a constant source of positive input
- It is okay to be negative, just maintain a limit
Best Quotes on positive thinking and attitude
- “Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
- “Change your thoughts and you can change your world.” –Norman Vincent Peale
- “You and only you are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” –Rachel Hollis
- Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.
– Mahatma Gandhi
Positive isn’t everything you need to live a better life. The self-development or self-help industry is so good at making it seem like you need to do just one thing to become happy and successful. It takes a system to live to your fullest. Positive thinking, good mental habits, and an optimistic attitude is definitely a part of this system. Practice these and would have a good chance of being the happy person that you so much yearn to be.