The Psychology behind positive thoughts
Positive Self Help

The Psychology behind positive thoughts

positive thoughts

Thinking positively is a broad definition of positive cognitions. Positive thinking does not always translate into avoiding difficult situations. Instead, positive thinking means making the most of potential obstacles, trying to find the best in people, and keeping a positive view of yourself and your abilities. This distinguishes constructive thinking from emotions, behaviors, and long-term outcomes like happiness as well depression. Positive thoughts have the power to increase positivity and transform your life, these can uplift ideas and practices to cultivate a brighter mindset.

What is the Psychology behind positive thoughts?

A consensus definition for positive thinking in research is still developing. For instance, Caprara and Steca (2005) proposed that optimism, self-worth, and life satisfaction were markers of positive thinking. Although these ideas may entail positive thinking, they are also frequently seen as potential benefits of using positive thinking techniques. Others have provided more specific definitions of positive thinking. Bekhet and Zauszniewski (2013) listed eight essential abilities that support optimistic thinking and are readily remembered when using the acronym THINKING:

  • Changing one’s negative ideas into positive ones
  • Highlighting the situation’s advantages
  • Using relaxation techniques to break through negative thoughts
  • Methods and diversion
  • Noting the necessity of adopting an optimistic outlook
  • Understanding how to divide an issue into manageable chunks
  • Forming positive ideas for every aspect of the issue
  • Nourishing strategies to counter negative ideas
  • Controlling negative thoughts to produce positive feelings

Several scholars have examined the various facets of positive thinking as well as proposed that it can be comprehended as a four-dimensional construct (Tsutsui & Fujiwara, 2015).

  • Self-affirming thoughts: This entails thinking of oneself as an advocate for oneself
  • Thinking with confidence: This includes ideas about performing well for other people
  • Self-taught and in charge thinking: This involves the ideas that direct actions
  • Thinking in an affirmative manner: This requires thinking with confidence

Also Read: 8 Techniques from Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Positive Change

Advantages of Positive Thinking

The advantages of positive thinking may vary depending on the definition and elements used.

  • First, it is generally beneficial to one’s wellbeing to think positively about oneself. For instance, people are more likely to succeed and achieve when they have faith in their capacity to do so (Taylor & Brown, 1994).
  • Secondly, it’s widely accepted that thinking positively promotes well-being. Whether or not these ideas are unrealistic, doesn’t seem to matter. People who think optimistically typically feel better, interact with others more positively, and handle stress better (Taylor & Brown, 1994).
  • Third, optimistic views or convictions regarding control seem advantageous. For instance, it appears that we can handle stressful situations better when we feel in control of the situation (Taylor & Brown, 1994).

    The advantages of having a positive control mindset seem to align with previous studies on the challenge mindset. When we approach challenges with a challenging mindset, we think we can manage the pressures we face today. A threat mindset, on the other hand, is distinguished from this mindset by ideas and convictions that we are unable to manage the stressors we are currently facing (Crum, Akinola, Martin, & Fath, 2017).
  • Finally, having a generally optimistic view of life, oneself, and the future is thought to be so beneficial that it is frequently included in discussions of well-being (Caprara & Steca, 2005).

Also Read: 7 Positive Psychology Habits for Everyday

Relation between Positive thinking and Overall Well-Being

Strong evidence for a connection between positive thinking and physical health has started to emerge from research. Specifically, optimism—which is frequently regarded as a positive mental attitude—seems to be associated with favorable health consequences. Scheier and Carver (1987), for instance, connected optimism to a lower incidence of physical illnesses like fatigue, coughing, headaches, and dizziness.

  • Additionally, after coronary artery bypass surgery, optimists appeared to recover more quickly (Scheier & Carver, 1987). Additional data suggest that positive thinking may have an effect on cardiovascular health, resulting in reduced blood pressure and heart attack risk.
  • In addition to potentially preventing allergies, the common cold, and other immune system problems, positive thinking have been shown to enhance the quality of life for cancer patients (Naseem & Khalid, 2010). Moreover, active coping is associated with optimism specific to AIDS (Taylor et al., 1992).
  • Positive thinking in psychological support can add needless stress to patients who are already experiencing difficulties. Therefore, it’s critical to remember that positive thinking is only one of many potentially effective tactics, and it shouldn’t be imposed on people who don’t believe it to be a good fit for them (Rittenberg, 1995).

Neuroscience Basis

  • Recent studies using neuroimaging techniques, such as sophisticated scans that can reveal changes in brain activity, have examined how the brain reacts to both positive and negative thoughts and emotions. According to these research, happier people—those who are more likely to feel positively—may react to emotional cues less strongly than pessimistic thinkers. As a result, they might be more adept at controlling their emotional response to trying circumstances. This is probably due to the amygdala, a region of the brain that controls emotions and stores memories, being less sensitive to unpleasant stimuli in happier people.
  • Additionally, research indicates that practices like mindfulness and other types of meditation may have an impact on the way the brain reacts to emotional cues. For instance, people who engage in future-focused self-affirmation, as opposed to those who don’t, may exhibit increased activity in the brain systems in charge of self-processing and valuation.
  • Specifically, one study demonstrated how self-affirmation modifies the brain’s reward system by turning on regions that establish links between positive stimuli and favorable results. As a result, people who strongly believe in their own integrity and have a positive self-image may be more likely to strongly link positive affirmations to the results they want.

Also Read: 9 Tips to Ensure a Positive Work Environment

What Distinguishes Positive Thinking from Positive Affirmations?

Positive thinking and positive affirmations, both employ upbeat ideas that promote self-improvement. These two related concepts do, however, differ greatly. Reciting empowering words and phrases repeatedly helps practitioners challenge negative thoughts and enhance their self-perception. These are known as positive affirmations. Having a positive mindset entails consistently concentrating on constructive ideas and convictions, even in the face of unanticipated events.

In essence, positive thoughts apply to every aspect of one’s life, whereas positive affirmations are frequently concentrated on particular objectives or areas for self-improvement. One useful tool for developing a mindset that supports constructive thought patterns is the use of affirmations.

Research views – Diadvantages of positive thinking

Furthermore, there is a connection between decreased well-being and overthinking about happiness. Lower happiness has been associated with, in particular, having unreasonable expectations for happiness and thinking about one’s emotional state a lot (Ford & Mauss, 2014). According to this research, there might be some negative aspects of positive thinking. Another prevalent critique of positive thinking is that, in certain circumstances, such as after a loved one passes away, it may not be the best course of action and may even be ineffective (Bonanno & Burton, 2013).

According to more research, cognitive reappraisal—which entails focusing on the advantages or positive aspects of a situation—can be detrimental in some circumstances and beneficial in others. More precisely, in situations that were under control, applying this positive thinking technique was actually linked to higher levels of depression (Troy, Shallcross, & Mauss, 2013). This implies that not every situation calls for the use of positive thinking techniques.

Also Read: Psychology of Growing Positively Out of Regret: A Guide

How to develop Positive Thought ?

These resources will help you develop your positive thinking abilities and learn more about positive thinking.

  • Wild cards of self-love: You can create a self-affirmation card deck with the help of this worksheet. These can support the development of more positive, self-focused thoughts.
  • Turn the Rabbit Hole Around: Anxious people are aware that their thoughts have a life of their own and drag them along with them.You may be able to stop this process and escape the anxiety rabbit hole by thinking about the bright side.
  • Focusing on the good things that happen: People typically pay more attention to the negative than the positive. However, if we only pay attention to the negative things in life, we will never notice and value the positive things.
  • I’m Outstanding Due To.. We are sometimes harsh on ourselves because we haven’t taken the time to consider our positive traits. We can facilitate positive thinking by reflecting on our positive traits
  • My Letter of Love to Myself: We can learn to appreciate ourselves more by examining our positive traits and making an effort to comprehend how they serve us.

Positive thinking has long been of interest to psychologists. However, people have not yet universally accepted a definition for positive thinking. Positive thinking seems to have a beneficial effect on both physical and mental health, regardless of how it is quantified. To further assist people in developing their positive thinking abilities, a wealth of helpful resources is accessible. Overall, the research points to the value of practicing positive thinking whether through therapy, counseling, or self-help.


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