At one time or another we have all had a positive thought – maybe it was first thing in the morning when we managed to wake and get out of bed way before the alarm…our favourite outfit was clean, ironed and ready to wear…we had time for a good healthy breakfast…the sun was shining and the journey into work was stress-free – we felt good and thought ‘today is going to be a good day’.
That – right there – is a positive thought.
And if we continue to think like that for the rest of that day – no matter what comes along – we will feel like we’ve had a good day.
‘You can change your entire life simply by harnessing the power of positive thinking’
– Brian Tracy.
What is Positive Thinking?
Positive thinking is an attitude that is made up of your emotions (how you feel) and a mental expectation of good outcomes (what you think).
An example of positive thinking is when you repeatedly conjure up desirable thoughts in your mind; these thoughts create energy which, in turn, help to transpire into physical actions that you perform.
It is about thinking the best is going to happen instead of the worst, and when your thoughts are full of positivity then you can overcome many of life’s challenges.
You can’t change the world,
but you can change how you perceive it
and untimately how you react to it
There are many areas in our lives that benefit from positive thinking; health, stress, career development, relationships and parenting are just some of the areas that will significantly improve by practising positivity.
Positive thinking is all about focus. Focusing your mind and thought patterns on a goal or desire, and giving that thought detail, meaning and strength.
As mentioned above you need to be telling your subconscious what it is you want and by giving that ‘want’ intense and strong emotions. This will then help to give your subconscious direction and in response it will then make every effort to bring that ‘want’ into reality.
‘The most powerful aspect of positive thinking is focus. Wherever focus goes energy flows’
‘Your brain will go after whatever you focus on…so focus on what you want’
– Tony Robbins.
Where negativity narrows our focus, positivity opens our brains to new opportunities and the confidence to reach them.
You are at your best when you feel positive.
Elements of Positivity
- Positive imagery
Optimism: having a positive outlook on a situation e.g. ‘I will do well in my exam’.
Positive Imagery: when you imagine what it is that you really want and that image is made as clear as possible, focusing on every detail as if you had seen the image in reality.
Affirmations: saying positive phrases over and over, either in your head or out loud. These ‘tell’ your subconscious what you desire to be true; ‘today is going to be a great day and whatever challenges I face, I will overcome them’.
Self-Talk: turning negative self-talk into positive self-talk so saying ‘I will never do this’ becomes ‘if I keep practicing I will become so much better than I am now’.
Continuing to think positive will carve out neural pathways in your brain and eventually these will become new habits.
‘Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be’
– Abraham Lincoln.
How Powerful is Positive Thinking?
To answer that question, we first need to look at how we can manipulate our minds to influence the way our bodies work, from increasing our body temperature to reversing the ageing process.
We all know that if we really concentrate, we can either increase our heart rate or calm it down (we only have to think ‘spider’ and we can almost hear our heartbeat increase its tempo!).
But what about our temperature, can we use our mind to change our body temperature?
Tibetan monks certainly can and they do this by practicing Tummo; an inner fire meditation. The monks wrap themselves in cold wet blankets and sit in a chilled room (4 degrees). Using the power of their minds, the monks increase their body temperature to a feverish 38.3 degrees!
How amazing – a neat trick for those cold, wintery nights!
The placebo effect is a great example of external influences causing our bodies to react in a certain way.
The placebo effect happens when a person believes they are receiving a particular treatment and their bodies react as if they are actually receiving that treatment and respond accordingly.
In fact, the treatment is a placebo; a substitute that looks like the real thing but has no ingredients to cause a physical effect.
An example of a placebo effect was done by a group of students at Princeton University who held a keg party for their classmates. What they didn’t tell them was that the alcohol in the beer was almost non-existent at 0.4%. Surprisingly, all of their peers behaved as if they were drunk, slurring their words and acting foolish.
‘…these college students had such a strong belief they were drinking standard beer that it affected their behavior’
Reversing the Aging Process
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could persuade our bodies to turn back time?
Well, you guessed it – it has been done!
Documented in The World Counts, in 1979 an experiment was conducted on a group of 75-year-old men.
For seven days the men were placed in a make-shift living area from the 1950’s when they themselves would have been in their mid 50’s.
Every detail of their living area was of that era including pictures, furnishings, newspapers, photographs etc and they were told to live, act and hold conversations as if they were in 1959 – they were even given ID badges with old photographs of themselves.
At the end of the experiment the men were tested against characteristics that had been taken before their week-long vacation in 1959.
It was documented that the men had improved in almost every category, ranging from strength, flexibility, eyesight and short-term memory.
So although the mind couldn’t take away the actual physical years, other improvements were made to their physiology – just by the subconscious believing that they were younger than what they actually were.
Now that is powerful.
‘Personal traits such as confidence and appearance is something you can influence through your mental construction of yourself. You can also use this to become happier and have a better and more fulfilling life.’
The above are just some of the studies that have been done to demonstrate how powerful our mind can be to have such an effect on both our mental and our physical being. This can be used for a variety of conditions including:
- Reducing stress
- Lowering depression
- Increasing confidence
- Becoming better at decision making
- Clearer thinking
- Lowering the risk of heart attacks
- Better moods
- Curing phobias
- Getting rid of bad habits
- Losing weight
- Building a greater resistance to common illness’ like the cold
- Boosting productivity
- Having a better influence on personal relationships
- Better pain tolerance
- Lowering blood pressure
Positive thoughts affect your actions, can change your whole direction and can make or – unfortunately – break you.
There are some thorns in our rose of positivity where people can fall into a false sense of security.
For example, choosing to ditch the medication in favour of meditation and mindfulness, and believing that your positive thoughts will heal you, could have serious repercussions on your health.
Then there is the nocebo effect.
‘Where the placebo effect demonstrates how positive thinking can improve treatment outcomes, the nocebo effect suggests that negative thinking may have the opposite effect’
An example of the nocebo effect: a person is given a pill for a particular ailment and is told a possible side-effect is nausea. Shortly after taking the pill, that person begins to feel dizzy and sick.
What they weren’t told is that the pill was actually a placebo – a sugar pill, and the side-effects they were experiencing were merely a result of negative thinking.
A person cannot control the thoughts
that appear in their head but they can choose
how they deal with them – either negatively or positively.
The human mind is a powerful thing but the benefits of positive thinking still far outweigh any ‘side-effects’ when it can contribute to our well-being, actions and aspirations in life.
Positive Thinking and Weight Loss
So, how does positive thinking help you to lose weight?
Well, just like the monks are able to increase their body temperature, and the men living as twenty years younger caused their bodies to respond as such – by using your mind and your subconscious in a certain way you can ‘convince yourself’ to lose weight.
This thinking will cause you to act in a certain way that, in turn, will help your body to start dropping the pounds.
To use positivity to help you lose weight, you can train your thoughts to expect to achieve that weight loss by:
- repeatedly telling yourself ‘I will be as slim as I want to be’;
- drawing mental images of yourself at your ideal weight, envisaging every detail as closely as you can;
- thinking about how you will feel when you are at your new size and how happy you will be.
These thoughts will then translate to your subconscious – or your unconscious mind – what it is you really want. Your subconscious will then do everything it can to make that new, slimmer version of yourself a reality by guiding your actions accordingly.
The words you choose, either in your own head or spoken out loud have a deep impact on your mindset, and the more these words are spoken or thought of, the more your mind and – more importantly – your subconscious begins to believe them.
So it is imperative, if you want to lose weight, to start visualising images, thoughts and words of what you want to achieve and to start believing in them.
In the next article positive thinking for weight loss, we will look at the various ways you can train your mind into believing and acting out your desire for a slimmer you.
if you think and act like a thin person,
you will inevitably become a thin person.
Sometimes this can be as simple as starting the day with images of yourself at your ideal weight, or you transform your whole daily thinking into believing you are that person.
Turning Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk
Flipping negative statements into positive affirmations is one of the strategies for positivity, both for weight loss and in any area you want to improve.
For example writing down all the bad things you think about yourself then writing the opposite of them instead.
This is like telling your mind – you don’t want that, you want this instead.
Negative Thought: “I’m starting a diet again but I probably won’t stick at it and I’ll be at this weight forever!”
Positive Affirmation: “This diet I’m starting will be great because I will get rid of all the fat I need to, and I will be much fitter and slimmer than I am now.”
Negative Thought: “I am fat, I can’t wear anything I want and I look horrible!”
Positive Affirmation: “My body is amazing and it is so capable of doing what I want it to and being the size I want. I am going to look fantastic!”
By repeating positive affirmations, challenges will be faced head-on and although there will be numerous ups and downs, losses and gains, it won’t matter because you believe that you will succeed and be at the size you want to be.
And that’s how you need to be thinking – with the belief that you will succeed.
Respond to situations productively and with a positive outlook and this will determine the outcome of those situations.
Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking
So, now let’s look in more detail at how you can make positive thinking a way of life and by facing it head on, you can deal with the many challenges that are congruent when trying to lose weight.
- Positive Thinking Fuels Powerful Results – Scott Halford
- Understanding the Psychology of Positive Thinking – Kendra Cherry
- Why Thinking Positive Thoughts Won’t Get You What You Want – Amy Morin
- How does plate size affect estimated satiation and intake for individuals in normal-weight and overweight groups – M Peng, Obesity, Science and Practice
Want to read more? See the next post – How to Think Positive