What is positive thinking?

Have you ever noticed how some people always see the positive in every situation? Perhaps you are one of them. They are the people who see the glass as half full, notice the helpers in a crisis or pick themselves up when things go wrong.

Positive thinking, or an optimistic attitude, is the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation. It can have a big impact on your physical and mental health and can actually make your life more successful and happy. 

The reality is, at any time there are postive and negative things all around you. If you listen to the news every day, you'd begin to think the world is a pretty awful place to be, yet look beyond the negativity and you can see the positive stories everywhere. It doesn’t mean you ignore reality or look through rose tinted glasses. It simply means you approach the good and the bad in life with the expectation that things will be OK - all will be well.

Optmitists tend to take the credit when something goes well, understanding the part that they played in the success. They blame external factors when things go wrong and dust themselves off and keep moving forward. Pessimists on the other hand, give credit to external forces when things go right and blame themselves when things go wrong.

You might pray to a God and thank them for all the blessings you have. You might make postive affirmations into the universe  by practicing the law of attraction. You might choose a mantra, practice gratitude or start the day with a postive practice. Whatever you do, or call it, it's an intention and an outlook.

"What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity." ~ J. Sidlow Baxter

"Whether you think you can or you think you can't - you're right." ~ Henry Ford

The re are no downsides to having a positive mental attitude, but the upsides are huge. In fact, studies have found to have a real impact on mental and physical well being.

Physical impacts

  • Lowers heart rate, stress, and likelihood of strokes and heart attacks
  • Improved immune system
  • Longer life span
  • Better pain management
  • Lower stress levels

Mental impacts

  • A greater sense of wellbeing
  • More creativity
  • Better relationships and collaboration
  • Better decision-making
  • Less depression and addictive tendencies
  • Hope

Yet not everyone is naturally optimistic. In fact, the pessimists have great value to add, looking at the risks and assessing the pitfalls of a given situation - after all, only fools rush in. However, always looking for the negatives can keep you in fear and losing courage and taking bold action. 

The realistic optimistic leader is a successful leader. We need our leaders to have a vision, set a stretching, yet realistic strategy and to inspire us to do more and be more.  


Think about a recent issue that you faced. What were your automatic thoughts? Did you think optimistically or pessimistically? How did this impact your mood, your thoughts and actions?

Next lesson, we look at the benefits of positive thinking in leadership.

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