What can a positive outlook do for your life?
Having a positive outlook has often been a desirable quality to aspire to. But do you know it could help you to improve your health, have a successful career, increase your happiness or even help you to live longer? The results of recent studies have supported these findings.
What does it mean to have a positive outlook?
Having a positive outlook is about being able to persevere in the face of challenges, having the ability to look beyond obstacles, being able to focus on the "can" rather than the "can't" as well as an ability to put problems into perspective rather than viewing them as all-consuming.
Our outlook is something we have control over; we can choose to think more positively and approach situations with a more positive outlook. This choice can influence our feelings and actions.
How does our outlook influence our thinking patterns, our feelings and our actions?
We face challenges in many areas of our life; work, family, relationships, health. Perhaps changing our outlook and increasing our positivity could help us to improve our ability to cope.
This is because psychologists believe that how we think about situations, ourselves and our life has a direct impact upon how we feel. Someone facing a challenge in their life with the thought "this is difficult but I know with the right support I can get through it" will feel more positively about their challenge than a person whose thought is "I just can't cope with this".
Our feelings have influence over how we behave in response to these challenges. Person one is more likely to seek support or look for resources to resolve their situation because they have told themselves that they can deal with it. Person two is likely to be experiencing a higher level of distress, because of their negative view of themselves and ability to cope. This distress can cloud our thinking, make us less likely to seek support or even become avoidant about the problem rather than tackle it. This can then become an ever increasing pattern of how we approach problems in our life.
How do we create a more positive outlook?
There are many ways that we can start to change our outlook. Here are just a few:
- Make the decision to be more positive. We often believe that our outlook is something we cannot control but we have to believe that how we approach life is something that we can change if we want to.
- Start to recognise some of the negative thoughts you experience on a regular basis. Try asking yourself "Is there another way of viewing this situation?", "Is my current viewpoint helpful?", "What might be a more helpful thought in this situation?"
- Set goals and review them regularly. Concentrate on your successes and how you achieved them. This will increase your knowledge of your personal resources.
- Maintain a good network of friends and acquaintances. Try to surround yourself with positive people, people who can be a role model for you and who can encourage you.
For more tips on building a positive outlook please have a look: www.positivepsychology.org.uk/pp-theory/optimism.html