It turns out that negative thinking isn’t just bad for your success, but also for your health! Numerous studies have shown that people who are more optimistic are physically and mentally healthier than pessimists.
This isn’t your fault, though, says Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist. He has found that humans are hardwired to be pessimistic as a survival technique. It’s been a long time since humans were in the “survival of the fittest” lifestyle, but we’re still naturally pessimistic.
This can really be trouble for your health. According to Psychology Today, as you dwell on stress and worry, you’re doing damage to the neural system that regulates emotion, feeling, and memory. In fact, this article in Entrepreneur covers a study which found that the health of pessimists deteriorated much more quickly than the health of optimists.
What a vicious cycle: the more negative you are, the more negative you become!
How to Spot a Pessimist
A lot of people who are pessimistic try to hide it from even themselves behind a curtain of “reality.” How many times have you heard someone say “I’m not being negative; I’m a realist.” The problem with this thinking is that it requires you to believe that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. That isn’t very realistic!
Here are other signs of someone’s negativity, according to The Mind Unleashed:
- They complain a lot.
- They would rather talk about what’s wrong with the world than what’s right.
- They are highly critical.
- They don’t believe they have control over many results in their life.
- They believe that they need to make slight changes to be happy, rather than being happy with how things already are.
The Power of Positivity
If negativity can actually hurt us, can positivity help us? Science says yes! In fact, Martin Seligman (of the University of Pennsylvania) has devoted himself to finding the power of positivity. In one study, Martin studied insurance salesmen, some of which identified as positive, and some of which identified as negative. Optimistic people outsold the naturally negative people by 37 percent! Everyone has heard cliches about positive thinking attracting positive results, but Seligman wants to prove it. His research is leading the way when it comes to how we think about positive thinking, and how we can stay positive at all times.
Some Positivity Tips
According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, staying positive is like exercising. To make a long story short, the more you practice being positive, the better you are at it! Remember that we said we’re hardwired to feel negativity, which means we have to consciously try to overcome that. Here are Shawn Achor’s top five ways to practice positive thinking everyday, without much work!
1. Bring gratitude to mind
Write down three things, every single day, that you are grateful for. In order to make this easier and more effective, you should write one thing about yourself, one big thing about the world, and one thing about someone close to you. This way, you can’t get away with writing “1. Coffee, 2. Chocolate, 3. Seinfeld.” While those things are great, they aren’t life changing.
Write down something positive that’s happened to you each day.
Exercise is an amazing way to clear the mind and think through daily issues.
Every morning, sit in silence for five minutes and pay attention to the motion of your chest as you breathe in and out. This will do wonders to calm your brain and clear your mind.
5. Help people
Randomly throughout the day, do small nice things for others. Shawn Achor suggest sending a nice email to a friend and complimenting something they’ve been working on. You can even compliment someone out of your reach on Social Media, like someone you look up to. This way, you won’t feel insecure.
You could literally do all of those things, every single day, in just a couple minutes. Think of the incredible power you have now! Anyone can be happier and more successful with such little effort; there’s no reason not to be more positive right away. You can live longer and be more successful if you’re willing to see the good in more things!