First posted to: https://surehopecounseling.com/the-benefits-of-positive-thinking/
How many times have we heard the familiar phrases,” “You are what you eat” or “Look at the glass half full instead of half empty.” Both imply that positive thinking influences one’s ability to have a positive perspective on life. Furthermore, the Bible also echoes this sentiment, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). If those statements really are true, then perhaps there are significant benefits to positive thinking.
Science has discovered the numerous neuropathways in a human brain and the study of neuroplasticity explains how it is possible to rewire pathways in the brain by changing one’s thinking. Neuroplasticity defined is “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.” (Oxford Languages dictionary) The term “rewire” in this context simply means anyone can change thoughts, responses, or patterns of thinking for the brain to create new neuropathways. Many 12 step groups support this premise in their approach to having members work through the 12 steps. The steps encourage hopefulness and optimism to promote healing and freedom from whatever substance or behavior has become unmanageable. By using positive thinking an individual may gain confidence and courage to make slight changes one step at a time.
According to an article by Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-another-name-pain/202001/affirmations-and-neuroplasticity) it is possible to use affirmations to “rewire” our thinking positively. This article discusses how one practitioner uses affirmations with his patients to help heal physical pain. In another article by Johns Hopkins University (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-power-of-positive-thinking) the findings support the benefits of decreased heart attack risk for those who have positive thinking. And finally, in a study done by Harvard Medical School (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/if-you-are-happy-and-you-know-it-you-may-live-longer-2019101618020) it was found that positive thinking also may affect one’s longevity of life overall, as well as elevating the chances of living past the age of 85.
The benefits of positive thinking certainly are supported by science, but they are also easy to see in social settings. For example, most people can think of a time when they were in a not so optimal situation such as waiting in a long line or being stuck in traffic. It is easy to observe how behavior is influenced by a person’s thinking in such a situation. We might observe a person who is thinking impatient and angry thoughts, yelling or beeping their horn with a frown on their face. In contrast, a person choosing to think about being patient or curious in that scenario might smile or make a statement indicating they are thankful the weather is at least beautiful while having to wait.
The benefits of positive thinking are without a doubt, worth working hard to achieve. Whether it is for healing emotionally, physically, or spiritually, the result is worth the effort. In conclusion, consider taking some time to decide how the benefits of positive thinking might be helpful in your own life.
-Susan Steier – Learn about working with Susan here!