The Amazing Power of Optimism

Article by Dee DeWitt


Regardless of current events and the pundits who want us to feel otherwise, I believe we all have reasons to be optimistic.  In fact, the most important reason to be optimistic might be just be for the sake of it. Read on, and tell me if you agree:


The concept of positive thinking has been around for centuries and there is a good reason for this. It works.  If you are a person who has a habitual “glass half empty” thought pattern, your glass probably is half empty.  The good news is, you can change your thinking and it will change your life.  It’s not as difficult as you might think, but, first, you must be willing to try.


Here’s what researchers know.  Researchers have spent a lot of time looking into the effects of our thought patterns on our physical and mental well-being.  They know that we all have a steady stream of thoughts going through our head every day, many of which we may not even be aware.  These automatic response thoughts can be positive or they can be negative and most are learned and created when we are children.


Research shows that these thoughts play a major role in how we live our lives and how we feel.  If your stream of self-talk is negative, you will undoubtedly find yourself depressed and/or anxious. You may have high blood pressure, a lowered resistance to colds and illness, or an increased risk of heart disease or cancer.  In addition, your negative thought patterns can often create the very things you fear.


For example … John grew up in a home with parents who chose to live a frugal lifestyle but they were not particularly happy about it.  They did not do many of the things they enjoyed doing because they focused on keeping track of every penny.  John adopted their negative thought pattern with regard to money and now has a deep belief that there will never be enough.  Consequently, he has avoided taking risks with his career and stays in a job he doesn’t really like because it is secure.  John’s self-talk is keeping him from making a change and looking for a new job that could provide not only monetary rewards but be one in which he would feel more fulfilled.  And by the way, he has just been diagnosed with high blood pressure due to stress.


The truth is, John can change his thoughts and he can change his life, and in the process, quite possibly lower his blood pressure.


When we are in a pattern of negative self talk, we often filter out positive messages as well.  We do not hear compliments as compliments and are more likely to doubt the sincerity of the person delivering them, wondering instead what their motives might be.  Negative thought patterns also lead us to blame ourselves for things that occur and to assume that the worst is going to happen.


If you are in a habit of negative self talk, you can begin to make changes today …


You are in control of your mind and your thoughts; they are not in control of you.  Remember, what you think, you will become.  Therefore, when you are developing a new thought pattern, make sure it is stated in a positive fashion and is something you want to bring about in your life.


For example, Say you are overweight.  You’re not happy about it.  Your negative self-talk may sound something like this: “I’m fat, ugly and unhealthy.  I hate myself.  I wish I were different.”  If you keep thinking these thoughts you will remain “fat, ugly and unhealthy” and you will continue to “hate” yourself.  These words are not motivation to change.  Do not say “I don’t want to be fat”, say instead, “I love being slender and healthy,” “I enjoy eating fruits and vegetables and healthy foods,” “My body feels great when I’m exercising.”  It doesn’t even matter if you think today that these thoughts are not true.  Say them, and if you want them to be true they will become so.


To start, pick one or two negative thought patterns that you are aware of and that you want to change. Write down the positive thought you wish to master.  Write this positive affirmation on paper ten times each morning.  Also, write it on a 3 x 5 card and place it on your bathroom mirror.  Repeat the thought while looking in the mirror several times throughout the day. 


Change takes time and practice.  Your thought patterns are like a river and the bed is worn deep.  You are creating a new route for the river and every once in a while the stream may wander off course. Just acknowledge this and move it back to the river bed you are creating.  In time, the new one will become well worn and the river of thought less likely to stray.


If you are struggling with this concept or would like more information and assistance in making changes to your thought patterns, you might want to pick up one of Louise L. Hay’s books.  A particularly good one to begin with is You Can Heal Your Life.  It is also available on podcast as are her “Feeling Fine Affirmations.”  Listening to these everyday can greatly improve the speed at which you are able to change your thoughts.  Listening to them before you go to bed each night will help you sleep better and wake up in a more positive frame of mind.


As you begin to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, you will see your life improve. You will become what you are thinking and your glass will start to fill.  Your stress level will decrease and your blood pressure will lower.  You will be a happier, more productive person.


That is the power of positive thinking.


“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged.  Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”
-Lucille Ball


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Posted on 26 October, 2009 in Goals, Happiness, Motivation
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