The psychology of positive thinking

If you have ever applied for a job, you couldn’t avoid spotting positive thinking or positive mindset in the list of requirements. We all accept that having a positive outlook on life helps when it comes to facing everyday challenges even though we might not know precisely how positive thinking works.

So, what is positive thinking all about and how can you train your brain for it?

Beyond displaying a positive and upbeat attitude, positive thinking affects how we approach skills’ development and how we decide on allocating our resources to specific activities.

Researchers found that daily experiences of positive emotions, in fact, enable the build-up of useful resources and skills, while negative experiences may even paralyse the individual. It is not difficult to see that without motivation and inspiration your personal energy level is not the same. And experiencing difficulties without encouragement or support on a long-term eats up own energy and may lead to depression.

With a positive mindset, you approach difficulties with a higher level of confidence; in other words, you trust your ability to face the challenges that come your way successfully.

Positive thinking also influences how you explain past events and how you see the outcome of specific situations, what result you predict. Furthermore, a positive outlook on life often helps people see adverse events as atypical and temporary.

Does positive thinking equal to ignoring risks or potential limitations? Are you fooling yourself? Certainly not.

It means that despite risks and difficulties you anticipate a positive outcome. You do that because you see those potential risks and challenges as opportunities or things you need to deal with in order to accomplish what you planned for yourself; instead of seeing them as roadblocks or showstoppers.

You may fool yourself, but the reason for that won’t be your positive mindset; instead, it would be that you are ignorant about crucial facts or potential dangers in a situation. Sometimes it may not be easy to distinguish between positive and wishful thinking.

If you follow wishful thinking, you form beliefs according to what might be pleasing to you instead of making decisions based on evidence and rational thought. Match your thinking to a perception that better reflects reality, and your positivity will be well-founded.

Some say, convincing yourself that you will ace that presentation or job interview is basically lying to yourself. It might be unless you are entirely clear about the key messages of your presentation and you, or you prepared for that interview. While positive thinking will give you a great kick start, it is not going to solve the problem.

When wishful thinking is misinterpreted as positive thinking, come the comments about positivity being overrated. People disappointed with the outcomes because they expected something better might blame positive thinking for their unpleasant experience.

What are the benefits of a positive mindset? Let’s see a couple of those benefits:

  • Better health leading to a longer life
  • Better ability to handle stress factors driving a more balanced and happier life
  • Better decision making leading to a more prosperous life
  • Better relationships

It seems positive thinking has its benefits when it is understood well, and your self-awareness supports it.

Next, I assume you would like to know how you can train your brain to have more positive thoughts. Here are a couple of tips for you.

  • When you are preparing to deal with a complicated matter, picture a positive outcome. In fact, picture several positive scenarios and think about what steps you should take to make one of the favourable situations happen.
  • When you expect that a challenge is coming your way, instead of thinking about the event itself, spend time thinking about the causes of that unpleasant event you predict, and the means you have to reduce the negative impact or to eliminate it altogether.
  • Fill your day with words that make you feel that you have control over your life and strength. Focus on words that suggest competence rather than the ones that indicate failure or mistakes.
  • Redirect your thought. If you remember, we were talking about how your energy level is affected by negative thoughts. You have the opportunity to choose your thoughts. Uplift yourself by concentrating on things that make you happy. Use this to achieve the mindset that enables you to take action. Once you are in action mode, focus on finding solutions to your primary problem.
  • Use positive words during the day. You may not tackle the ‘positive talk’ game right at the beginning but with practice, you will use more and more encouraging words and will feel how it affects your self-confidence.