Updated: Jul 30
Whether you’re dealing with grief, mental illness, or are simply going through a challenging chapter of life, sometimes it can be hard to remain positive when we feel like we are only being handed negative situations. Fortunately, maintaining a positive outlook can help you handle these challenges with confidence, instead of letting them define you.
As we approach the end of another year, Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries encourages you to welcome the New Year with a positive outlook. Of course, “positive thinking doesn't mean that you ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst (mayoclinic.org).”
Below we’re sharing how positive thinking can benefit your mental and physical well-being, and how to embrace a positive outlook, even during difficult moments.
Why Practice Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk, or the endless stream of thoughts that run through our head. These thoughts can be positive, but more often than not, they’re negative. Some of these negative self-talk thoughts come from logic and reason.
However, others may arise from misconceptions we create because of lack of information or approaching a situation with a negative outlook. For example, wanting to be more physically active but telling yourself, “I don’t have the time.” In reality, it’s not about having the time; it’s about making the time.
This small switch in how we approach our experiences and challenges can change their outcomes. In addition, positive thinking has been linked to several health benefits - mental and physical - including:
Lower rates of depression
Greater resistance to illnesses
Better psychological and physical well-being
Better cardiovascular health
Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
“It's unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body (mayoclinic.org).”
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” - Philippians 4:8
How to Prioritize Positive Thinking
Turning negative thinking into positive thinking takes time and practice. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:
Be Mindful of Your Thoughts
Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. It’s easy to get caught up in the day or moment. We often let one moment define our days. For example, maybe you hit traffic on your way home from work. Overall, your day was good, but you let that experience spoil all the positive moments from the day - past and future.
If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them. Here are some examples:
“I’ve never done it before.” vs. “It's an opportunity to learn something new.”
“I don’t have the time.” vs. “I can make the time.”
“I’m not good at this.” vs. “I need to keep practicing.”
Surround Yourself with Positive People
We may not realize it, but we are impacted by the company we keep. If you’re surrounded by negative thinkers, it can be easy to become one yourself. For example, if you have a coworker who always complains about their job, the company, etc., you may find yourself adopting this mindset. Even if you’re happy with your job, all the negative thoughts can start to pile up. By surrounding yourself with positive energy, you have support when things seem bleak and people who can help you focus on the good.
Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries specializes in helping individuals improve their thought processes. Not only by thinking positively, but by thinking Spiritually. This process has been proven helpful in decreasing anxiety and improving mood and self-esteem. Contact us to learn more about how this type of counseling could benefit you.