5 Reasons to Think Positive

01/16/2017 01:54 pm ET

We all have had days or weeks when nothing goes right, everything and everyone seems to be going against you, and your mood cannot get any lower. What have you done in those challenging times? Did you feel sorry for yourself and start being pessimistic? If yes, what have you noticed?

Fact is, it’s way easier to take on a bad attitude and become negative in stressful and challenging times. Maybe we start worrying about the future, or feel like we are attracting bad things. The ‘ugly’ truth is we are actually creating them because we are, even on an unconscious level, expecting and constantly looking for them. It’s like we walk around with an open umbrella, waiting for it to start raining, although there are many good reasons and examples that should convince us to think and act otherwise.

My mom always likes to say: “Life is like a sine curve.” That means: life is bell-shaped. It has its ups and downs.

Perhaps you are in a tricky situation right now, thus on the lower part of your sine curve, not knowing what to do and how to get out of this phase. Well, I’ve got good news for you! This is simply the beginning of better times that are right in front of you. Isn’t that something to feel good and excited about?

Here are five more reasons to always find the positive side of a challenging situation and to stay optimistic:

1. It’s good for your health

Isn’t that the best reason already? There is plenty of research showing that a positive attitude and outlook on life strengthens our immune system. On the other hand, negative thinking weakens it. The great news is that we can decide which way of thinking to choose, because happiness is an inside job that starts in our head. Sure, all of this sounds so simple and easy, but I know it isn’t. Believe me, I’ve been there. I went through a low phase where I couldn’t find anything to be happy or optimistic about.

When I felt like I hit rock bottom, I “simply” asked myself how this pessimism and constant worry actually helped me with my situation. And I couldn’t find an answer. So I started the process of changing my thinking from negative to positive. And this is what the “aha” moment is.

As John Milton put it: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

So true!

2. It helps you deal with stress better

Have you noticed that if you think positive and stay optimistic in very stressful times, then all the things on your to-do list seem to get done like it’s a piece of cake? A few years ago, I was part of an event management team that organized and planned a big international event. Believe me, anyone who has worked in event or project management knows the “hot phase”, which is the “no-sleep-crazy-busy-working” phase. It was quite a challenge for me to keep my balance, but what really helped me (besides yoga, meditation, and eating healthy) was finding humor in situations and simply enjoy the ride.

A good laugh alleviates a ton of stress. Also, making vacation plans or simply planning something for one day in the week gives you something to look forward to and stay happy.

3. It helps you grow and unlocks gratitude

Gratitude is definitely the key to real happiness. Sometimes we are so busy thinking about the things we want and don’t have, instead of appreciating the things we have and the problems we don’t have. I really like the metaphor that my former supervisor once told me: a bad attitude is like a flat tire, it doesn’t get you anywhere. This is so true and something I try to live by. Have you heard of the term “self-fulfilling prophecy?” It means that if you believe, for example, you can’t manage or overcome a stressful situation then you most likely won’t.

Again, your mind is a powerful thing. If you want to grow and overcome a challenging phase in your life, you not only need to leave your comfort zone, you also need to leave that little prison inside your head which is well-protected by “negative-thinking-guards.” Trust me, it’s worth the fight.

4. It heals illnesses

As I mentioned before, positive thinking is a great way to stay healthy. It also works with healing illnesses or alleviating symptoms. You might have heard that there are psychosomatic and organic diseases, and sometimes it is tough to determine which is which. Have you ever noticed that during great times, when you meet someone, or you are simply enjoying life and what you are doing, you are rarely sick? As opposed to challenging times, when work is no fun, you’re dealing with difficult people, or you just have lots of things to handle, and you get sick on top of all of this.

Perhaps you have heard about those people who were told by their doctors that they had only a few months left to live, but ended up living years, even decades just because they kept thinking positive. I have had one of them in my extended family. This has taught me one of the best and most important lessons in life: no matter how many thunderstorms you have in your life right now, there is always, always something to smile about.

5. It’s contagious

Have you ever heard the saying “positive thinking will attract positive things to happen?” Or have you ever experienced that you couldn’t help but smile when you saw children playing or listened to other people around you laughing and being happy? Didn’t that make you smile and be happy as well? A positive attitude is just like that: it is contagious for others, like a chain reaction. That’s why we like to surround ourselves with positive thinkers instead of people who are constantly complaining and seeing the negative in situations.

Sure, sometimes it’s hard to be the only one smiling at people, keeping your head up even if there are lots of worries in your life right now. However, in those times, I keep telling myself: I am alive. I am here. I can breathe. I can feel. I can move. And if that isn’t something to be happy about, then I don’t know what is.

Karen Naumann
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