The Power of Thoughts
We’ve all heard about the power of ‘positive thinking’; people have written whole books on the subject, and we’re constantly being reminded to be optimistic, in the hope that this will magically change the outcome of a situation. But why? How can simply thinking positively impact our external lives in such a profound way?
It’s all down to the mind-body connection. Our mind can really heal our body, and depending upon what we believe, we can totally change our emotional and physical wellbeing.
The posture / mood cycle:
Just for a moment, think of the way someone looks when they’re in a low mood. Their back may be rounded, shoulders hunched, head hanging and a kind of distant greyness about their expression.
The mind and body work in union in a situation such as this; the bad posture actually sends messages to the brain that there is a reason to be hunched over, and your mood gets lower and lower, which in turn effects your posture – and the cycle continues. This body position also effects your breathing, restricting the ability of the ribcage to expand, putting pressure on the accessory respiratory muscles and causing strain in the upper back, neck and shoulders. This restricted air and blood flow means the brain gets less nutrients than it needs to function optimally, which adds to the bad mood and less of an ability to think clearly and positively.
In many studies, positivity has shown to bring about health benefits such as these:
- Longer life span
- Less stress
- Lower rates of depression
- Increased resistance to the common cold
- Better stress management and coping skills
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
- Increased physical well-being
Laughing – something positive people may tend to do more than those with the ‘glass half empty’ attitude – has shown to actually boost the immune system. Laughing decreases cortisol levels (the ‘stress hormone’) and increases particular white blood cells, which play an important role in immunity. Laughter also produces endorphins – (‘feel good’ chemicals) which can help to reduce pain, and a recent study showed that those who were more likely to laugh in a situation were less likely to suffer from heart disease. One more reason to laugh? A good belly laugh helps to regulate appetite – swap the sugary comfort snack for a conversation with someone who makes you laugh!
Open Your Mind:
Positive thinking allows us to be open to different opinions, and have a broader view of life. Contrastingly, negative emotions (especially those brought on by fear) narrow our mind, allowing the brain to focus only on that one negative aspect.
Positivity is contagious!:
Studies have shown that if you live close to a friend who is happy, you’re 25% more likely to be happy yourself. Most days, we interact with different people – whether it be family, friends, or the people working in the public places you visit. Every interaction has an effect on us, contributing to our overall mood.
Just by being around happy people, we have a much higher increased chance of being happy ourselves. And if we’re happy, we’re influencing others around us to be happy too. Just think of the way you feel even when the person working behind the cash desk at the supermarket is particularly friendly and happy – it rubs off on you a little and makes you feel more positive, right? If you spend time in the company of happy friends or relatives too, that’s likely to have a profound and long lasting effect, which helps you to spread the happiness to the people you meet throughout your day.
The key is to think positively – ofcourse realistically – if we’re living mindfully we’re accepting and observing whatever happens (good or bad) with no judgement – but we can see everything as an opportunity to grown and learn.
Thinking good thoughts really can have a big impact on the way our lives play out. What we think, we become.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. We are made of our thoughts” – Buddha