Turn on the television any given day and you'll get bombarded with negativity. The world is sometimes a scary place, there's no doubt about it. So, should we all give in to the doom and gloom? It's easy to sink into jaded negativity, and the world often confuses cynicism with sophistication.
However, positive people aren't naïvely burying their head in the sand about important world events. Decades of psychology research has shown that positive people have the upper hand in life. From longevity to successful relationships, there are few problems that won't be improved with some positive thinking.
Some of the benefits of being positive include:
TheMayo Clinic has found that positive thinkers live longer, experience less depression, spend less time sick, have less chance of dying of heart disease, and cope better in stressful situations.
Renowned social psychologist John Gottman found that in marriages where positive interactions outweigh negative interactions, couples were less likely to divorce.
Researcher Robert D. Putman found that positive people have more friends than their negative peers.
Some studies have shown that positive people make more money, rise to leadership positions faster and experience greater satisfaction at work.
We all could use better health, more success and greater happiness, but is positivity a learned trait? Luckily, researchers have identified many good ways to get happy.
Getting in a positive state of mind
Research by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson suggests that cultivating a broad world view helps people find solutions to problems instead of dwelling on negativity. Focusing on fixing instead of wallowing gives you a sense of control over your circumstances. Feeling that you have the power to change your destiny keeps you on a positive path.
Also, psychologists Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, in a 2003 study, found a strong correlation between gratitude and positivity. Writing a thank you note or keeping a gratitude journal can help you see the good in your circumstances. Giving thanks also helps couples see the good in their partner, which can improve relationships.
The positivity cycle
You can learn to think positively in the same way you learn a new sport, with practice and diligence. Start thinking more positively by choosing your thoughts carefully and dismissing negative self-talk. As you're practicing positivity, be especially vigilant about the thoughts you allow to take up space in your mind. Be aware of cynicism and its ugly cousin, sarcasm. These negative habits undermine our peace of mind.
You also may have to cut chronically negative people out of your life. Don't feel bad about unfriending a negative influence on Facebook or limiting time with a particularly caustic acquaintance. True friends bring you up, and life is too short to surround yourself with negative people.
The Mayo Clinic found that positive people are more likely to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, which in turn makes them even happier. Once positive thinking becomes a part of your everyday life, it turns into an upward cycle of well-being. Seeing the good in the world is not an innate characteristic, but rather a trained method of thinking.
As you go throughout your day, make an effort to look on the bright side of life. You'll be doing your body and your mind a favor. Every habit starts with one decision on one day, so make today your first day of choosing positive thoughts.