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How Positive Thinking Affects Your Health

Positive thinking has been shown to have powerful effects on both mental health and physical well-being. Maintaining a positive outlook does not mean seeing the world only through rose-colored glasses—it’s about keeping an optimistic but realistic outlook instead of dwelling on negativity.

Take a closer look at some of the many health benefits of positive thinking.

Increased Resilience

Positive thinking makes you more resilient to life’s stresses.

Being optimistic and engaging in positive self-talk can help you better weather the storms of life. Resilience is a key psychological characteristic that helps people carry on, bounce back, and even thrive in the face of adversity.

A 2004 study found that positive thinking helps contribute to better mental and physical wellness by improving coping abilities.

Stronger Immunity

Positive thinking can improve your resistance to the common cold. Improved immunity is one of the many ways that positive thinking affects your health.

In one study, researchers found that participants were more likely to have a stronger immune response during times when they were optimistic. When these same participants were feeling more pessimistic, their immune responses also declined.

While positive thinking might not be a health panacea, maintaining a bright outlook on life might just help you stave off some ailments such as the common cold.

Better Coping

Research also suggests that having a positive outlook also helps people better cope with serious illness. It boosts your ability to deal with health problems when they do arise.

One study found that people diagnosed with HIV who had been trained in eight positive thinking skills had a lower load of the virus, were more likely to take their medication, and were less likely to be depressed.

Increased Longevity

Positive thinking can even help you live longer. Research has also found that positive thinking can have an impact on longevity.

One study found that a positive outlook not only led to better health outcomes but also to a longer life. Researchers believe that positivity improves coping abilities, lowers stress, and increases healthy behaviors.

How to Think Positively

Some people just seem to be born optimists. However, there are also things that you can do to help cultivate a more positive outlook on life.

  1. Recognize at least one positive thing each day.
  2. Allow yourself to enjoy the moment and describe it to someone else.
  3. Keep a gratitude journal where you note and describe that positive event.
  4. List one of your personal strengths and describe how you utilize that talent.
  5. Make note of minor stresses and describe how you can think about them in a more positive way.
  6. Set an achievable goal and make note of your progress.
  7. Commit to performing a small act of kindness each day. Recognize other people’s acts of kindness as well.
  8. Start practicing mindfulness by keeping your focus on the hear and now rather that ruminating about the past or future.

It may take some time and practice, but eventually seeing things from a more positive point of view will come more naturally. If you notice pessimistic thoughts creeping in, make an effort to intentionally shift your mindset and focus on some more positive thoughts.