The human brain is made of 86 billion neurons with roughly 100 trillion neural connections that allow thoughts and commands to move through our brains to the rest of our bodies. The mind and its functions are not yet fully understood by scientists, but what has been studied is whether having a positive mindset affects human well-being, both emotional and physical. While growing up, whenever something negative happened in our lives, we’d always be told to have a positive mentality. But have we really thought about the true benefits of being positive and about how a positive mindset can affect our well-being? Having such a mindset has not only been shown to give great physical benefits, but also has proved to provide long-lasting mental health benefits. In this article, we will dive into these two areas related to positive mindsets and our well-being.
What is a positive mindset?
First and foremost, let’s try to understand what encompasses a positive mindset. Positivity or staying positive is an attitude that is practiced by a person. The formation of this winning attitude truly comes down to perspective. When something negative happens, how we view that event in the scope of our personal growth and life is what fosters a positive attitude. For example, if we don’t get a job we worked hard for, we can either see the situation as a result of external factors and feel sad, or we can see it as an opportunity that wasn’t meant for us and think that something better is coming.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring the problem at stake, but rather broadening your perspective to realize that all good and bad things are meant to happen to essentially lead you to a better life. As human beings, it’s almost impossible to be positive 100 percent all the time. However, by simply acknowledging the positive side of events more often, we are one step closer to achieving true bliss. This is the secret to having a positive mindset.
Positive mindset: Illustration of a skeleton in a suit sitting on the bean bag with a though bubble above it by Megan Lermanda
Positive thinking on our physical well-being
With a positive mindset comes numerous physical health benefits. According to Jane Brody, an author for the NY Times, studies have proven that positive attitudes are correlated to “lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control, and healthier blood sugar levels.” In fact, one specific study conducted with 49 patients with Type 2 diabetes showed that a positive attitude about their condition helped alleviate stress associated with it. In addition, according to WebMD, positive thinking results in longer life spans, better pain tolerance, and greater resistance to illnesses.
Better mental health with a positive mindset
Not only does having a positive attitude benefit our physical health, but it also helps us maintain a better state of mind. According to WebMD, studies showed that adults with positive attitudes experienced more upbeat emotions and eased out of depression “regardless of whether they are naturally optimistic or pessimistic.” In addition, Paradigm Treatment mentions that positive attitudes help people cope with mental illnesses, or at least puts them at a lesser risk of getting these illnesses. Since one out of every five Americans suffer from a mental health issue, this finding becomes crucial for a better society.
A positive mindset allows us to focus on the good things instead of dwelling on the bad. This in turn helps us navigate the sea of obstacles in our lives more smoothly and patiently. In simple terms, positive thinking fosters feelings of self-appreciation. It allows us to see the light at the end of the tunnel and remember that it doesn’t stay stormy forever. Thinking positively provides us with hope, which is what essentially keeps humans going at the end of the day.
Altogether, it is clear that a positive mindset does improve our well-being. It poses physical benefits such as helping us cope with illnesses while also helping us steer away from other health conditions like high blood pressure and increased sugar levels. Additionally, an uplifting mentality has strong mental health benefits, allowing us to have the strength to navigate the hardships in life while also protecting us from mental illnesses. Although there are many other causes that play into both physical and mental health, if our attitude can make a significant difference, shouldn’t we consider pursuing an optimistic mindset?
- Brody, Jane E. “A Positive Outlook May Be Good for Your Health.” The New York Times, March 27, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/well/live/positive-thinking-may-improve-health-and-extend-life.html.
- Cohn, Michael A, Martha E Pietrucha, Laura R Saslow, Jen R Hult, and Judith T Moskowitz. “An Online Positive Affect Skills Intervention Reduces Depression in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes.” The Journal of Positive Psychology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, January 1, 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4157680/.
- “Here’s How a Positive Attitude Improves Teens Mental Health.” Paradigm Treatment, August 13, 2021. https://paradigmtreatment.com/positive-attitude-improves-mental-health/.
- Sherwood, Alison. “Positive Thinking: What It Is and How to Do It.” WebMD. Accessed January 5, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/positive-thinking-overview.