4 science-backed benefits of positive thinking (and how to do it)

Positive thinking is often linked to being happy.

And as cliche as it may sound, we often hear that positive people are more successful.

In fact, research is beginning to reveal that positive thinking is really powerful.

Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson stated that positive thinking has an impact on your work, health, and life.

The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions

Fredrickson created an experiment with 5 groups of participants. Each group was shown different film clips.

Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy.

Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment.

Group 3 was the control group which means they saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion.

Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear.

Lastly, group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.

Afterward, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation that would create similar feelings.

They were encouraged to write down what they would do starting with the phrase “I would like to…”

The results showed that groups 4 and 5 wrote down the fewest responses. They were the ones shown with negative emotions.

Meanwhile, groups 1 and 2, who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of responses.

Fredrickson concluded that when you are experiencing positive emotions, you will see more possibilities in your life.

These findings demonstrated that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.

Here are other scientific studies that demonstrate the power of positive thinking:

1. Positive thinking decreases anxiety

In this study, people with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) were the participants.

Researchers from Kings College in London tested 102 subjects diagnosed with anxiety disorder.

GAD’s most common symptom is excessive worrying.

They were told to replace their worries with possible positive outcomes for one week.

The main finding was that participants showed significant reductions in their anxiety.

Thus, it seems when you replace worry with any alternative positive idea, your anxiety condition will improve positively.

2. Positive thinking results to happiness, and happiness results to success

In our world today, being successful means accomplishing those things that are valued by one’s culture.

It means you flourish in terms of the goals set forth by your society – like having a lot of money, owning your house and car.

The focal question in this study is whether happy people are more successful.

Dr. Lyubomirsky, head researcher from UC Riverside, concluded that happy people tend to feel confident and optimistic.

With these traits, it is easy to like them.

A perfect example is being promoted or closing a huge deal because of one’s positive disposition and aura.

Lyubomirsky concluded that happiest people owe their success, in part, to their optimism and positive outlook.

3. Positive thinking means less stress

Dr. Segerstrom from the University of Kentucky headed a research about the effects of stress on our health.

Her group analyzed over 300 separate studies of the effects of stress on humans.

They found out that short-term stress strengthens the immune system.

When people face a stressful situation, adrenaline floods in. It boosts the immune system and helps them to deal with stress.

However, if people continue to stress about an event, it can lead to illness.

Another study states that positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health.

4. Positive thinking leads to longer life

A lot of factors can lead to long life like heredity, gender, nutrition, lifestyle, and medical care.

Researchers from the University of Kentucky examined autobiographies written in 1930 by nuns.

These nuns lived together at the same convent in their early years.

The researchers rated their autobiographies on a scale of positivity.

Sixty years later, the researchers contacted the surviving nuns, now aged 75-90.

The nuns who scored high on positive thoughts were the longest living survivors!

Another study made with people infected with HIV concluded that those with a positive outlook carried a lower load of the virus.

They were also more likely to take their medication correctly and did not need antidepressants.

These research studies suggest that being positive is beneficial.

Now the question is how do you increase positive thinking?

Here are 3 simple ways to increase positive thinking:

1. Meditation

A study by Fredrickson and her colleagues found that people who meditate daily show more positive emotions.

Additionally, people who meditated also built valuable long–term skills.

They were able to display increased mindfulness, know their purpose in life, give social support, and have overall good health.

2. Writing

A study shows that writing has health benefits.

The experiment made participants write about an intensely positive experience each day for three consecutive months.

Those who did reported better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses.

3. Relax and play

Give yourself the gift of happiness.

Get yourself to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotion.

When you schedule time for play and adventure, you will also experience contentment and joy.

Now that you’ve read about the scientific benefits of positive thinking, now read our article explaining the concept of “emotional agility”. We’ll make the case for experiencing the full spectrum of your emotions — from positive to negative. Or, check out these questions that make you think about life, human existence and the universe.

NOW READ: 8 seriously effective life hacks to get your life back together

Jude Paler

Jude Paler

I am a poet with a positive outlook in life and a writer with a purpose in mind. I write to express my thoughts so that others will be inspired.

Be the first to comment on this article at Ideapod Discussions

Back to Top

Like this article? Get more like this in your email inbox. Twice weekly.