Does this sound like you? You have heard that positive thinking can have such an amazingly powerful effect on your life. But maybe you are not buying into all that "good thoughts" power. You need proof.
So, exactly how does positive thinking reduce stress? What really happens inside your body when you adopt a positive as opposed to negative way of thinking? Let's take a look.
The Mayo Clinic reports that using positive thinking as a stress management tool can lead to the following benefits:
- You live longer
- Instances of depression and anxiety are reduced
- Your natural defense system is boosted
- You do not catch as many colds (seriously)
- You develop excellent coping skills
- A lower risk of heart disease and heart-related death
For some it is difficult to believe those benefits can come about simply by having a positive attitude. And honestly, it is not really the positive attitude in and of itself which delivers those benefits. It's the true and honest perception of reality that positive thinkers enjoy which reduces stress and then leads to those many benefits.
For instance, people with a positive mindset most of the time tend to see the world as it is. They apply no negative filters or preconceived beliefs about existence. They understand the mantra of mindfulness meditation - to focus on and live in the moment.
When you look at the world as a "now" experience, no pointless future-guessing and past negative experiences can influence your mindset and actions. Science has even shown that positive thinkers see more possibilities in their lives.
When you believe there are limitless options and possibilities and you look at the world through no negative filters, you are calm and peaceful, even in the face of difficult situations. Stressing over what may happen is one of the biggest worries of the negative thinker. This never happens with someone who fosters positive beliefs.
They do not waste time creating possible "what if " scenarios. Instead, they see only the present moment with very clear vision, and then they choose a course of action which delivers a positive result.
Physiologically, the process is very simple.
When your ancient ancestors encountered stress, it was often a life or death situation. What we call today the "fight or flight" reflex tells your brain that you are in a super stressful situation. Unfortunately this still happens today, even when what you perceive as stress has a limited or nonexistent impact on your life.
But your body still releases hormones and chemicals that quicken your pulse, speed up your heart rate and make you see just about everything as a possible threat. When you view the world as it is, you see that most things today are nonthreatening. Positive thinkers view the world with a very clear focus, so their bodies naturally create less stressful situations. This leads to fewer heart problems, less stress, anxiety and nervous problems, and a healthier, longer life.