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The power of a positive mindset

A positive mindset can be defined as a mental and emotional attitude that consistently anticipates positive results. A person with a positive mindset presumes happiness will result and that any difficulty that should arise can be overcome...

It’s easy to instead dismiss yourself as a negative or neutral person, using an excuse like ‘that’s just the way I am’, but positivity is in fact an attribute that can be learnt and embedded into anyone’s life. A mind occupied by negative thoughts, feelings of failure, worry and self-loathing, will often lead to situations developing in the very way that person fears. Yet somehow, it is more difficult to understand how the opposite end of the spectrum – the positive approach – can be of benefit. Visualising the favourable outcome and believing that it is possible is more likely to cause it to come to fruition. And, if it doesn’t, treating it as a chance to improve (rather than beating yourself up) will allow you to move forward and get that bit closer to what you hope to achieve. Many people assume that happiness follows success, but what if, actually, success follows happiness?

Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, conducted an experiment to explore what impact stirring positive emotions would have on people. She found that participants who experienced feelings of joy and contentment were able to express a future full of far more potential than those who had experienced negative feelings. Her experiment implies that thinking positively gives hope to a situation; with hope comes possibility, possibility opens one’s mind, and this in turn will enable one to build new skills. Frederickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory. Often someone with a positive attitude will walk tall and exude confidence, but adopting a positive approach can also help to build skills that will benefit you throughout life. For example, an optimist will often try to improve situations through problem-solving – a fundamental skill for many a career. In contrast, a pessimist would tend to dwell or ignore such situations, and this can often cause prolonged stress, or worse, depression.

Life will inevitably chuck bad things in our path, but it is how we deal with those incidences that impact the outcomes that follow. Having belief and seeing such circumstances as an opportunity to learn and grow will, in turn, have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. Suzanne Sergerstrom, another positive psychology researcher agrees: “Optimists are in general both psychologically and physiologically healthier.” Sergerstrom’s research looked at the way people approached specific situations in their life. She found that those who were optimistic exhibited a stronger immune response than those who thought negatively. Similarly, the Mayo Clinic reports that optimistic people often live longer since they experience less stress-induced health issues.

Whether you believe it or not, I challenge you to give positive thinking a whirl. Minimise negative self-talk and see what effect doing so has on your overall wellbeing. I’m a glass half-full kind of girl, so my guess is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Try this:

Our diaries tend to get full very quickly. We schedule in meetings, conference calls, appointments, etc., but what about ‘play’? Actively try blocking out some time for yourself. You’ll be surprised at what impact it can have!

Did you know?

Affirmations will help to build your self-confidence. Put affirmations around your home and watch your confidence soar. Make sure your affirmations are specific and written in the present tense.

How do people see you?

Attitudes are contagious and the people around you will pick up on whatever vibes you let off. Negative people are little fun so make sure you avoid sucking the life out of others!


Fredrickson, B. et al (2003). What good are positive emotions in crises? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), pp. 365-376.

Mayo Clinic (2011). Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk. Available at: SR00009

Segerstrom, S. and Sephton, S. (2010). Optimistic expectancies and cell-mediated immunity: The role of positive affect. Psychological Science, 21(3), pp. 448-55.

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