Country music icon Willie Nelson said, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” While the singer is probably referencing a state of mind, science shows that positivity in your life can produce real physical benefits. Here are suggestions on how you can make changes in your own life.
Make Gratitude Your Attitude
Researchers at the University of California Berkeley think that “thank you” should be a bigger part of our vocabulary, because too many take gratitude for granted. Studies found that those who consistently practiced gratitude were less stressed and more positive, reporting greater feelings of joy, compassion, connection, and generosity.
But what does it mean to “practice gratitude?” We’re all grateful for many things in our lives, but we often let them pass by without any real thought. Practicing gratitude can mean many things, such as putting those blessings to paper and bringing them to the forefront of our minds. Books like “The Five Minute Journal” organize daily gratitude in categories such as “What are you grateful for?” and “List three amazing things that happened today.” Writing these things down every day is one way of keeping gratitude as your attitude.
Use the Power of Positivity
We probably all know that person who will find a way to be upset no matter what happens. Unfortunately, a sour mood may not be the only consequence of constant negativity.
Chronic stress is commonly linked to a myriad of health issues, and maintaining positivity can help keep stress manageable. Meditation is a popular way to improve focus and decrease stress, and there are smartphone apps to make it quick and simple. (You don’t need to be a guru to meditate.)
Say it Out Loud
Don’t underestimate the power of self-talk—those moments alone at home or in the car when you’re talking yourself up or down in a certain situation. Calling yourself “stupid” after a mistake can have real negative effects, according to the Mayo Clinic, while giving yourself audible encouragement can have the opposite effect. Whether you just achieved something great or slipped up in life (and it happens to everyone), say something positive to yourself out loud.
Keep Realistic Expectations
While there are plenty of studies that indicate having a positive attitude is linked to your health, it’s important to also be realistic about your physical health. If you experience health issues, you should talk to your doctor. Practicing gratitude and positive thinking can help with your health, but you should never feel like you need to face potential issues on your own.