You've probably heard the saying ‘think positive and good things will happen.’ But is there any truth to it? Can simply thinking positively really lead to better things happening in our lives? Let’s explore the science behind positive thinking and whether or not it really can make a difference.
The Science of Positive Thinking
There's actually quite a bit of science that supports the idea that positive thinking can lead to better outcomes. Studies have shown that people who think positively are more likely to achieve their goals, including both personal and professional goals. They're also more resilient in the face of setbacks and more likely to recover from failure. Positive thinkers also tend to have healthier relationships and overall better mental and physical health. So it's clear that there are some definite benefits to being optimistic. It is important to note that it is positive thinking in the form of optimism – meaning, you expect good things to be more likely to happen than bad things.
But how does positive thinking actually lead to improved outcomes?
It can change your entire perspective. When you have a positive attitude, you tend to see the glass half full instead of half empty. You focus on the good instead of the bad. You see possibilities instead of roadblocks. This different perspective can help you find solutions that you never would have thought of before.
Part of it also has to do with the fact that positive thinkers are more likely to take action towards their goals. Studies have shown that optimists are more likely to succeed than pessimists because they’re not as afraid of failure. They're more likely to persist in the face of setbacks and view failure as a learning opportunity instead of a reason to give up.
Positive thinking can also improve your health. Research has shown that there is a strong connection between our thoughts and our physical health. Positive thinking has been linked with lower rates of depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as stronger immunity and faster healing times from illness or injury. In fact, one study found that cancer patients who had a positive outlook were more likely to live longer than those who didn’t.
But perhaps the most important factor is that optimistic people have what's known as an "internal locus of control." This means that they believe that they have control over their own lives and destiny. This belief leads them to take initiative and responsibility for their own success, which in turn leads to better outcomes.
So, does positive thinking really work? If you want to improve your chances of success, start by thinking optimistically about your goals.
And, remember the wisdom of the ‘middle road’, or balance in everything – positive thinking does not mean that you never get to stop and consider risks before making a big decision. It does not mean that you cannot think critically or ‘how could this be better?’. It is not about being in denial when something isn’t working and you need to move on. It also does not mean that you should push down and deny the difficult emotions that come from the very real ups and downs of life. Hope and optimism can be massive resources for us as we go through the down times, so think of them like that – a source of empowerment, but not the only source.
If you’re interested in learning a set of techniques and method that can be used to help change your behavior or way of thinking, you can click through here to check our NLP Practitioner training.