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A Little Positive Thinking Goes a Long Way

We’ve all heard bits of wisdom like, “it is better to view the glass half full instead of half empty” or “life is what you make it” or “chaos is opportunity.”  These quotes, and many more like them, are about the power of positive thinking.
What is positive thinking, and how can it make a difference in your day, and your life?  According to many researchers, positive thinking begins with “self-talk.”  Self-talk is the stream of endless thoughts going through our minds every moment of every day. 
Self-talk can be active, as in consciously focusing your mind on a particular topic.  For example:
I need to eat better.  What can I have for lunch today? 
How can I complete that project for work on time? 
How can I ask my boss for a raise? 
Why does my spouse seem so distant from me lately? 
My daughter has been having trouble in school and not focusing on her homework.  What can I do to help her?
But most self-talk is passive.  That is, self-talk is the random collection of thoughts we seemingly don’t control that just come into our minds whether we want them to or not.  For example:
Why did my boss say that?  Is he trying to tell me that he doesn’t like my work? 
I’ve asked my spouse a thousand times not to do that, but she does it anyway just to spite me. 

I’ll never lose weight, so what’s the use. 
This is hopeless. 
I’m scared.
For those of us who struggle with being positive, it often is the passive negative self-talk that does us in.  Numerous studies, including a 1985 groundbreaking study by psychologist Michael F. Scheier, prove that we can make amazing positive improvements in our lives just by changing the way we think. 
People who take a positive outlook on life experience many documented physical and psychological benefits, including reduced stress, less depression, greater resistance to illnesses including the common cold, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and longer life spans.
Does actively engaging in positive thinking mean living in some kind of fantasy world and pretending that bad things don’t happen?  Absolutely not.  But it does mean approaching stressful situations and hardships with optimism.  It means thinking the best will happen, and not always expecting the worst to happen.
You can start thinking positively today.
It doesn’t matter if most of your thoughts right now are negative.  It doesn’t matter how overwhelmed you feel.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t even know where to begin.  You can think more positively, starting right now.  We’re not talking about big changes.  We’re talking about taking one step at a time.
Check out the link below.  It gives you a year’s worth of free quotes about positive thinking.  It gives a thought for each day, but please don’t tell yourself you have to wait until January 1 to get started!  Start now.  You can start anywhere on the list, or just go straight to today’s date, whatever that date is for you right now. 

Try to visit this site once a day and read just one positive thought.  It can make a significant difference in your day.
You also may be interested in the links below.  The first is a Mayo Clinic article that gives helpful tips on how to think more positively and eliminate negative self-talk.
The second article is an interview with psychologist Michael F. Scheier, who reflects on how he proved the scientific basis for positive thinking.
Have a positive today, and an even more positive tomorrow.  Finally, here’s a positive thought to take with you on your way today:
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

-Abraham Lincoln

13 Comments to A Little Positive Thinking Goes a Long Way:

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DBD on Sunday, August 11, 2013 2:15 PM
Great post! I especially appreciate that you've not only explained how damaging negative self-talk can be, but have also offered some practical, easy-to-implement steps to combat negative self-talk. And your Lincoln quote is especially instructive. Here was a man with a long history of what we'd now term low-grade depression, a guy whose later life was filled with depressive triggers -- e.g. the sudden death of his young son from smallpox, his wife's chronic mental illness, a bloody war for whose mounting casualties he felt personally responsible. As he grappled with these tough things and the melancholy that he quite understandably felt about them, he made comments to friends and colleagues and in notes and letters that showed that he strove to embrace a few points of what we'd now call positive self-talk in the midst of very real tragedies that dogged his life. The quote you've shared above is one; in another quote, spoken during an especially tense meeting with members of his cabinet, Lincoln said: "Gentlemen, why don't you laugh? If I didn't laugh with the strain that is upon me day and night, I should go mad! And you need that medicine as well as I!" Again, nice post.
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