WELL BEING: Positive Thinking

8 May

Good health has as much to do with our thinking as it does with proper diet, enough sleep and regular exercise.

Choosing positive healthy thoughts each day can brighten our mood and serve as a tremendous encouragement for all those around us.

"Think Positive" by wavy1 / flickr

While it may seem to be safer to be a pessimist, always prepared for the worst, studies have shown that chronic negative thinking over time can lead to self-limiting behaviours, not to mention, anxiety disorders.

“Cognitive Distortion” describes a process of jumping to conclusions without proper evidence and typically these reactions are based on worst case scenarios, oftentimes triggered by past negative experiences.

Certainly, we all know how much trouble we borrow when we assume the worst only to find out that everything was fine all along.  And even in situations where bad things have happened, it doesn’t serve you well to ponder on the dark and difficult continually.

Hoping for the best doesn’t mean we won’t still have regular stress and challenges, but looking through the filter of optimism will accentuate the positive we can enjoy and relieve us from making some stressors into more than they realistically are.

Isn’t it true, when we worry we can make a mountain out of a molehill, so to speak.  So instead of thinking of what can go wrong, let’s look for what is going well and for ways to maintain balance during the storms of life.

Cultivating encouraging thoughts and developing a positive attitude can have a powerful effect on your personal level of success and the quality you experience in life. We may not always have control over what we can do in any given situation but we always have control over what we choose to feel and think.

In recent years, many self-help books have been written on the power of positive thinking. Unfortunately, so many of these books are focused on the “don’t worry, be happy” mentality and that doesn’t always take into consideration the individuals involved or the appropriateness of each situation. Putting on a happy face is not entirely reasonable under difficult circumstances. Instead, I’m suggesting we choose the best thoughts for each situation. Perhaps, ask yourself, “What is the next best thought?” In effect, we train ourselves to step up the emotional ladder of feelings to something more comforting.

For example, it’s a natural tendency to worry if a loved one is ill. Under these circumstances, it’s not necessarily possible to jump directly to joyful thoughts. However, it may be sustaining to count our blessings, recall happier times and seek encouraging words to share. Our kind and loving thoughts may be just the healing balm needed to soothe the worried mind of our suffering loved one.

When we feel emotionally well, we generally feel better all over. So it is with our mind, thinking encouraging thoughts can shore up our physical well being and give our body the ease required to rejuvenate.

Keep in mind, for all our positive thoughts, sometimes it may be best to simply offer ourselves to others as a comfort in the form of a listening ear. Being available, showing concern and taking good care of ourselves serves as a witness for well being to our family and builds our own healthy resources.

So the next time you come to that crossroads of thought, consider what your options are and don’t feel pressured to follow the same old thought patterns.  Sometimes it can feel like we don’t have a choice about what we think, but ultimately we are constantly choosing one thought over another.  And the good news is, even in the most trying times, we can choose our thoughts well.

Send questions and comments to lynnvannoy@gmail.com or visit http://www.lynnvannoy.com.

The information in this column is not intended as medical advice. Its intention is solely informational and educational.

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