The power of positive thinking

Cathy Brownfield

The experiences we have in life are about how we react or respond to the negatives. Rolling with the punches (reacting) doesn’t allow time to think things through, as does taking some time to decide how to handle something (respond.)

Look at the negativity around us. Many news media outlets focus on the negative side of the stories they report. But what about the positive sides? What about the things that are being done with good effects against those bad things?

Medically, it is documented that a positive attitude has positive benefits on our health and well-being. People who are cheerful, high energy, less anxious, and content in their health, their lives, are positive thinkers, advises Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“What is clear is that there is definitely a strong link between ‘positivity’ and health. Additional studies have found that a positive attitude improves outcomes and life satisfaction across a spectrum of conditions–including traumatic brain injury, stroke and brain tumors.”

Smile more. People may or may not smile back. Even a fake smile is expected to make a difference.

Practice reframing. Instead of road rage, I tend to think a moment or two of inconvenience might be protecting me from some adversity ahead, like a car crash that would really put me behind in my time budgeting.

Build resiliency. This comes from good relationships with family and friends, accepting that change is a part of life, and dealing with problems as they come up. It’s much easier to deal with a small problem than to wait for the snowball down the mountain that lumps a whole lot of problems altogether at once causing a case of overwhelm to not even know where to begin to fix everything.

The Mayo Clinic explains that resiliency builds skills that help us to endure hardships. When something goes wrong, how do we react or respond?

“If you lack resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed, or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, eating disorders, or risky behaviors.”

Is your goal the opposite of these things? Resilience doesn’t fix anything but it does hold you up to deal with the problems as you work to get to the other side of them. Resilience doesn’t mean you won’t get angry, or feel pain, or mourn. But you will be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will be less likely to be anxious or depressed.

Being connected to others, finding meaning in every day, hope, are all resilience builders. Thinking about how you have dealt with other problems and what helped you to get past them helps. Focus on the positives. Remember that self-care is not selfishness. It is seeing to your own needs – emotional, mental and physical. Everyone needs time for self, to re-energize and be at their best, better able to grasp what needs to be done and decide how to get there from here.

Not easily done, because compassionate, empathetic people are easily inclined to think, “I can take care of myself later.”

If you can’t find your way and you need help, reach out to people who can help. The first step of a challenge is the hardest.

Family Recovery Center offers mental health services as well as addiction services. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, Visit the website at FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.