“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
48.6. That’s the average number of thoughts it’s estimated that we have per minute. That’s 70,000 thoughts a day. Just think about that for a moment (that’s another thought right there!) It’s hard to imagine all those thoughts coming into, and passing through, our minds. But what’s even more interesting to consider, is the effect all those thoughts have on our state of mind. All this got us “thinking” over here at Kashi:
Can one thought be more beneficial than another?
Can negative thoughts actually harm our overall well-being?
And can we change the way we think to lead a happier life?
The answer to all three questions is a resounding YES! And science has proven it. There are endless studies that indicate that the mind-body connection is real, and that positive thinking could truly be linked to positive outcomes. We wanted to share some of the ways positivity may directly impact your well-being, so we can all embrace a happier, more fulfilled way of life.
1) IT AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH
Positive is being studied in connection with diseases. Research from John Hopkin’s Hospital found that, “People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.” Other studies have looked at the link between optimism and a multitude of diseases, from cancer to hypertension.1
Scientists aren’t yet unanimous on whether that’s because an optimistic outlook reduces the inflammatory damage of stress or whether it leads you to make better choices, but there is no longer a question about its importance in an overall healthy lifestyle.
TIP: Try including a “gratitude practice” in your daily life. Before you go to sleep at night, think of three things you are grateful for. Do this every day and you might be surprised at how effective it is in helping you identify the positives in your life.
2) DECREASES ANXIETY
Feeling worried or anxious? Try changing your outlook! This article from Psychology Today discusses 25 ways you can change your anxiety, and —you guessed it! —challenging negative core beliefs and focusing on gratitude are key steps to take. We particularly like their advice to “Remember that everything in life is temporary—the good, the bad, and the ugly,” as well as “Check out the headline of the daily newspaper. Be thankful your life is not the feature story!”
TIP: Try reframing your worries by imagining a positive outcome and keep focusing on that vision. You might be surprised at how that simple switch can impact the way you feel about things.
3) IT MAKES YOU MORE SUCCESSFUL
Yep, you read that right. Optimists (or those who practice positive thinking) are typically problem solvers who work to improve a situation and make the best out of it. In fact, studies have shown that optimists typically earn more money and are less likely to quit when the going gets tough, thanks to their attitude. We love this article which doesn’t just explain why this happens, but actually gives some great tips on how to change the way you respond to life’s situations, and move out of the negative thinking camp to one of rewarding positivity.
TIP: When a situation doesn’t turn out how you’d have hoped in the work place, try viewing it as temporary rather than permanent, and something you have the power to change.
4) MAY INCREASE PAIN TOLERANCE
We are all going to suffer physical pain at some point in our life, and unfortunately some people have to live with chronic pain. While the underlying factors that cause us to feel pain can’t necessarily be controlled, the way our minds respond to it could potentially play a significant role in how we experience pain. According to this article, “Emerging experimental and clinical research links optimism to lower pain sensitivity and better adjustment to chronic pain.” We will take some of that, thank you!
TIP: If you live with pain, identify what you can change and what you cannot. By accepting what you cannot change and engaging in activities that you love in spite of the pain, you can learn to live a more empowered and positive life. While the pain may not disappear, your perception of it can change.
5) DECREASES FEELINGS OF LONELINESS
There’s a difference between enjoying alone time and/or being a “loner” and feeling lonely. You can be surrounded by people but still experience feelings of loneliness. If this is the case for you or someone you know, try focusing on positive thoughts and an optimistic outlook. Before you know it, the practice of focusing on positive thinking and banishing negative thoughts might make a real difference to your feelings of loneliness!
TIP: Pay attention to any negative thoughts you have about yourself. Remember, you can only hold one thought in your mind at a time: as soon as an unhelpful thought enters your mind, recognize it, push it aside, and focus on replacing it with a positive thought. With practice, this can become a great habit.
1Effect of Positive Well-Being on Incidence of Symptomatic Coronary Artery Disease Yanek, Lisa R. et al. American Journal of Cardiology, Volume 112, Issue 8, 1120 - 1125