Monday, July 4, 2016

How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work



How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work


Positive thinking sounds useful on the surface. (Most of us would prefer to be positive rather than negative.) But, “positive thinking” is also a soft and fluffy term that is easy to dismiss. In the real world, it rarely carries the same weight as words like “work ethic” or “persistence.”
But those views may be changing.
Research is beginning to reveal that positive thinking is about much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude. Positive thoughts can actually create real value in your life and help you build skills that last much longer than a smile.
The impact of positive thinking on your work, your health, and your life is being studied by people who are much smarter than me. One of these people is Barbara Fredrick son.
Fredrick son is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina and she published that provides surprising insights about positive thinking and it’s impact on your skills. Her work is among the most referenced and cited in her field and it is surprisingly useful in everyday life.
Let’s talk about Fredrick discovery and what it means for you…

What Negative Thoughts Do to Your Brain
Play along with me for a moment.
Let’s say that you’re walking through the forest and suddenly a tiger steps onto the path ahead of you. When this happens, your brain registers a negative emotion — in this case, fear.
Researchers have long known that negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When that tiger crosses your path, for example, you run. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. You are focused entirely on the tiger, the fear it creates, and how you can get away from it.
In other words, negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. At that same moment, you might have the option to climb a tree, pick up a leaf, or grab a stick — but your brain ignores all of those options because they seem irrelevant when a tiger is standing in front of you.
This is a useful instinct if you’re trying to save life and limb, but in our modern society we don’t have to worry about stumbling across tigers in the wilderness. The problem is that your brain is still programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way — by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.
For example, when you’re in a fight with someone, your anger and emotion might consume you to the point where you can’t think about anything else. Or, when you are stressed out about everything you have to get done today, you may find it hard to actual start anything because you’re paralyzed by how long your to–do list has become. Or, if you feel bad about not exercising or not eating healthy, all you think about is how little willpower you have, how you’re lazy, and how you don’t have any motivation.
In each case, your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative emotions of fear, anger, and stress — just like it did with the tiger. Negative emotions prevent your brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround you. It’s your survival instinct.
Now, let’s compare this to what positive emotions do to your brain. This is where Barbara Fredrickson returns to the story.

What Positive Thoughts Do to Your Brain
Fredrickson tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain by setting up a little experiment. During this experiment, she divided her research subjects into 5 groups and showed each group different film clips.
The first two groups were shown clips that created positive emotions. Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy. Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment.
Group 3 was the control group. They saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion.
The last two groups were shown clips that created negative emotions. Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear. Group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.
Afterward, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar feelings would arise and to write down what they would do. Each participant was handed a piece of paper with 20 blank lines that started with the phrase, “I would like to…”
Participants who saw images of fear and anger wrote down the fewest responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take, even when compared to the neutral group.
In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that proved that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.
But that was just the beginning. The really interesting impact of positive thinking happens later…


How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skill Set

The benefits of positive emotions don’t stop after a few minutes of good feelings subside. In fact, the biggest benefit that positive emotions provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life.
Let’s consider a real–world example.
A child who runs around outside, swinging on branches and playing with friends, develops the ability to move athletically (physical skills), the ability to play with others and communicate with a team (social skills), and the ability to explore and examine the world around them (creative skills). In this way, the positive emotions of play and joy prompt the child to build skills that are useful and valuable in everyday life.
These skills last much longer than the emotions that initiated them. Years later, that foundation of athletic movement might develop into a scholarship as a college athlete or the communication skills may blossom into a job offer as a business manager. The happiness that promoted the exploration and creation of new skills has long since ended, but the skills themselves live on.
Fredrickson refers to this as the “broaden and build” theory because positive emotionsbroaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you tobuild new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.
As we discussed earlier, negative emotions do the opposite. Why? Because building skills for future use is irrelevant when there is immediate threat or danger (like the tiger on the path).
All of this research begs the most important question of all: if positive thinking is so useful for developing valuable skills and appreciating the Big Picture of life, how do you actually get yourself to be positive?

How to Increase Positive Thinking in Your Life
What you can do to increase positive emotions and take advantage of the “broaden and build” theory in your life?
Well, anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love will do the trick. You probably know what things work well for you. Maybe it’s playing the guitar. Maybe it’s spending time with a certain person. Maybe it’s carving tiny wooden lawn gnomes.
That said, here are three ideas for you to consider…
1. Meditation -
 by Fredrickson and her colleagues has revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions that those who do not. As expected, people who meditated also built valuable long–term skills. For example, three months after the experiment was over, the people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.
Note: If you’re looking for an easy way to start meditation, here that was recently sent to me. Just close your eyes, breathe, and follow along.
2. Writing — published in the 
Journal of Research in Personality, examined a group of 90 undergraduate students who were split into two groups. The first group wrote about an intensely positive experience each day for three consecutive days. The second group wrote about a control topic.
Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses. (This blew me away. Better health after just three days of writing about positive things!)
Note: I used to be very erratic with my writing, but now I publish a new article every Monday and Thursday. I’ve written about my writing process and how you can stick to any goal in a more consistent manner in the articles .

3. Play — schedule time to play into your life. We schedule meetings, conference calls, weekly events, and other responsibilities into our daily calendars … why not schedule time to play?
When was the last time you blocked out an hour on your calendar just to explore and experiment? When was the last time you intentionally carved out time to have fun? You can’t tell me that being happy is less important than your Wednesday meeting, and yet, we act like it is because we never give it a time and space to live on our calendars.
Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotion. Schedule time for play and adventure so that you can experience contentment and joy, and explore and build new skills.
Note: for more ideas on the importance of play,  on how one man cured his anxiety.

Happiness vs. Success (Which Comes First?)

There’s no doubt that happiness is the result of achievement. Winning a championship, landing a better job, finding someone you love — these things will bring joy and contentment to your life. But so often, we wrongly assume that this means happiness always follows success.
How often have you thought, “If I just get ___, then I’ll be set.”
Or, “Once I achieve ___, I’ll be satisfied.”
I know I’m guilty of putting off happiness until I achieve some arbitrary goal. But as Fredrickson’s “broaden and build” theory proves, happiness is essential to building the skills that allow for success.
In other words, happiness is both the precursor to success and the result of it.
In fact, researchers have often noticed a compounding effect or an “upward spiral” that occurs with happy people. They are happy, so they develop new skills, those skills lead to new success, which results in more happiness, and the process repeats itself.

Where to Go From Here
Positive thinking isn’t just a soft and fluffy feel–good term. Yes, it’s great to simply “be happy,” but those moments of happiness are also critical for opening your mind to explore and build the skills that become so valuable in other areas of your life.
Finding ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your life — whether it is through meditation, writing, playing a pickup basketball game, or anything else — provides more than just a momentary decrease in stress and a few smiles.
Periods of positive emotion and unhindered exploration are when you see the possibilities for how your past experiences fit into your future life, when you begin to develop skills that blossom into useful talents later on, and when you spark the urge for further exploration and adventure.
To put it simply: seek joy, play often, and pursue adventure. Your brain will do the rest.

How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Using Affirmations


“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~Buddha
I used to teach Adult Upgrading. My students were people who had never completed grade school and/or high school. For a variety of reasons, they were now ready to try it again.
New students would say, “I wasn’t ever any good at school.” “I can’t do math.” “I hate fractions.”
It’s my belief that our self-talk is programming ourselves for our statements to be true.
Those students thought they’d been stating the facts, not revealing programmed beliefs.
My work was less about teaching math than it was about coaching them toward a change in their beliefs about themselves.
“I never again want to hear you say you’re not good at math,” I’d say. I’d ask them to switch to “I’m learning math” or “I’m getting better at math” or “I’m working on fractions.”
I’d help them start to notice their own negative self-talk and then transform it into positive statements. “Sure it sounds weird. So humor me,” I’d have to say. “Yes, I know it doesn’t feel like it’s true. Not yet, anyway.” They’d roll their eyes at me.
I’ve read that schools teach fractions before many of our brains are developmentally ready to cope at that conceptual level. I believe this, because I’ve met so many people whose problems in school began around the time fractions were introduced.
Children’s developing self-images are vulnerable. Once children begin to feel stupid about a school subject, begins. It soon defeats their egos along with their will to learn.
My adult students did humor me, probably because I was such a nag about wanting to hear only. My use of pizza-portions and other grocery items as examples of fractions helped them realize they already knew about fractions and used them frequently in everyday life.
Gradually they’d begin to feel better about math. Many would even begin to enjoy it. Grade school math felt easier. Positive self-talk became natural. Other subjects became less overwhelming, too.

We all keep saying self-defeating and/or negative things to ourselves, don’t we! At the same time, we keep wishing it could all change. Well, it can change!
Affirmations. I’m sure you’ve heard about them. An affirmation is, simply, positive self-talk. It’s a statement about ourselves or our situation, phrased in the present tense as if the statement is already true.
Affirmations work to help us change. I’d like to share with you one method to start creating very personal affirmations.
1.      Identify your negative self-talk and beliefs.
2.      Create affirmations out of those beliefs.
3.      Begin using the new affirmations.
4.      See the “magic” gradually unfold.

1. Identify your negative self-talk and beliefs.

Do this in handwriting, not with a computer. Connecting your physical self with your neurons and psyche and intuition is important here. What our bodies do, our subconscious learns from.
Fold a piece of lined paper in half lengthwise, and then unfold it. Down the left side, write a list of those self-limiting statements you’ve been thinking and saying. “I can’t afford a vacation.” Or “It’s hard to lose weight.” Or “I’ll never meet the right guy/woman for me.”
Stick to one theme or personal issue on this first list. Write everything that comes to mind on the topic. Don’t think, just be spontaneous and real. It needs to be a stream-of-consciousness set of statements.
Then spend a few days listening closely to yourself, to what you’re saying, thinking. Ask a friend to listen, too. Add every negative self-talk statement to your list as it comes up.
After you think you’ve written them all, wait. More will come. As you empty out the top layer in your mind, the next layer will be revealed and released.

2. Create some affirmations out of those beliefs.

This next part is not easy, but you can do it!
You are going to write some new statements. You may feel huge resistance as you do it. Maybe you won’t believe a thing you write. Perhaps you’ll feel discouraged. You’ll probably think it’s weird. But humor me, just like my students did.
Down the right side of your paper, across from each left-side statement, write a new one that transforms that negative statement into a positive.
Examples:
·         “I can’t afford a vacation” becomes “I can afford to take a nice vacation.”
·         “It’s hard to lose weight” becomes “Losing weight is easy for me.”
·         “I can’t save any money” becomes “I’m good at saving money.”
·         “I’ll never meet the right guy/woman” could become “I’m open to new relationships” or “I’m ready to meet my perfect mate.”
The new statements must be in the present tense. Write “I am…” rather than “I will be…” or “I’m going to be…” Avoid using the word “try” because “I’m trying” is a self-perpetuating statement.
To get around your disbelief about writing something that feels untrue and seems impossible, you can write things like “I’m learning to….” and “I’m getting better at….” It’s still present tense, still a positive affirmation. Something like “I’m getting better at saving money” might feel better than “I’m good at saving money.”

3. Begin using the new affirmation statements.

Fold the paper in half again. Never again read the left side. Ignore it forever.
Post the folded paper, positive-statements on top, somewhere you’ll see it often. Above the toilet paper roll. Over the kitchen sink. Read your affirmations from time to time, but there’s no need to dwell on your list. It is simply an occasional reminder that you’re transforming your thinking.
If you catch yourself thinking or saying any of your old (negative) beliefs, stop yourself. Transform it into the positive, right then and there.
Ask your family and friends to help by simply pointing out any negative self-descriptions when you say them. When they do, transform the negative to the positive immediately, and say the new statement aloud to them.
You’re literally changing your mind.

4. See the “magic” gradually unfold.

The “magic” will happen, if you do the first three tasks. Truly! I’ve done this ever since I learned how, and I promise you it absolutely works. I have a good and happy life and things generally go my way. I believe it’s because I do this kind of work ongoingly.
Soon you will not only say you’re good at handling money (or whatever your issue is), but you’ll also begin to believe it and—here’s the magic—one day you’ll notice that you are good at it!
The negative statements will gradually disappear from your mind.
If you stick with this, what’s absolutely true is that:
·         When you write it, the magic begins.
·         After you write it, you can start reading it.
·         When you start reading it, you’ll be able to start saying it.
·         When you start saying it, you start hearing it.
·         When you start hearing it, you start to believe it.
·         When you believe it, things begin to change.
·         When things begin to change, you will understand. And believe.
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” ~ Goethe


“No matter how far we come, our parents are always in us.” ― Brad Meltzer
This weekend, my mother celebrates her 60th birthday. In two months, my father will celebrate his 60th as well. Unfortunately, the miles separate us. And I regret not being able to be there to celebrate with them.
My mother and father have been wonderful parents to me. They have worked hard to provide a stable foundation for my life and future. They have taught me invaluable lessons about work, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. And to celebrate their 60th birthday, I thought I would use this public forum to give them the praise they deserve.

60 Life Lessons I Learned from my Parents

• Admit mistakes. It would be foolish for me to claim my parents have been perfect. They aren’t. But when they make a mistake, they humbly admit it. And work to fix it.
• Appreciate teachers. My mom worked a number of jobs while I was growing up ― including being a teacher. From her, I learned to appreciate the time, energy, commitment, and care that teachers show every day.
• Assist your neighbor whenever possible. Everywhere I’ve lived, my parents knew our neighbors. More importantly, they recognized their needs and assisted when possible.
• Attend church. Worship has always been important to my family. Then and now.
• Be a good friend to find a good friend. Healthy friends cultivate healthy friendships. And my parents taught and modeled what it means to be a good friend to others.
• Be content with little. There were numerous times growing up when money was tight. Nevertheless, my parents were content in it.
• Be content with much. There were also times when the bank accounts were healthy. Even more impressive, my parents were content then as well.
• Be open to criticism. We never stop learning, growing, and changing. My mother and father were always open to being challenged in new ways.
• Be quick to help. If a need in the community was articulated, my parents were among the first to be there. They set a healthy example from the very beginning that life is not all about getting… it’s about giving.
• Care about the right things. Our lives and resources are finite. And you just can’t care about everything. Seek to care about the right things.
• Care for the fatherless. My parents provide, protect, and care for the orphan and the fatherless. And if there is a greater compliment to be given, I’m not sure what it is.
• Celebrate holidays with family. Even when we lived far away from extended family, I always remember making it home for the holidays as a kid. And as an adult, I still do.
• Choose the narrow path. Many will choose the broad, well-trodden path. My parents never did. Their values always dictated their decisions even when they were unpopular.
• Come home for lunch. I distinctly remember my dad coming home from work each day for lunch―usually for a hot dog on bread with chips. Let me repeat that, I always remember my dad coming home from work for lunch.
• Commit to your spouse. My parents have remained faithful to each other in every possible way for 40 years. I can’t thank them enough.
• Compete but remain fair. Competition runs deep in our family. But so does fairness. And I’d hate to have the first without the second.
• Concern your life with more than money. My mother and father always concerned themselves with greater pursuits than money.
• Disagree humbly. Nobody gets it right every time. I’m glad I learned from them the importance of being able to disagree with genuine humility… sometimes I wish I learned this even more.
• Discipline is a virtue. Self-discipline ought not be feared, but nurtured.
• Don’t fear change. My family moved a number of times while I was growing up  (5-6 times before graduating high school). Through the experience and their example, my parents taught me never to fear it.
• Don’t look for wealth in money. True wealth is never measured on a bank statement. And they never evaluated theirs by the number of zeros printed on it.
• Eat cereal for dinner. Not sure why we had cereal every Sunday night for dinner… but surely, that’s where I learned it.
• Education is worth pursuing. My mom and dad had twin sons while still in college. They both graduated. Well done.
• Express gratitude. Gratitude is a discipline best experienced in both the good times and the bad. My parents displayed it regardless of external factors.
• Forgive quickly. Wrongs happen and mistakes are made. Sometimes, those decisions hurt. But not granting forgiveness only harms yourself.
• Get on the floor with your kids. My dad worked hard. But when he would come home, he would get on the floor and play with his kids. If I haven’t said it yet, “Thank you.”
• Have an opinion. You can always count on my mom to have an opinion. And thankfully so. She taught me the value of forming one.
• Invite others. My family always sought to include others into our plans and lives. From them, I’ve learned the value of this simple question, “Would you like to come with us?” Our world needs more people like that.
• Laugh often. 
• And then laugh some more. Needless to say, I love the culture of joy my parents established in our home.
• Learn from others. My parents never considered themselves so above someone else that they couldn’t learn something new from them. And I’ve always appreciated that trait.
• Live in Aberdeen, SD. We moved a number of times growing up. But somehow, my parents always returned to Aberdeen, SD… and that’s where they continue to live today. Know that I look forward to visiting home again soon.
• Live within your income. My parents always made adjustments in their spending based on their income. They taught me the value of frugality when necessary. But more importantly, they taught me the joy of living within my means.
• Love conversation. Both my mom and dad excel in the gift of conversation. They use both their ears and their mouth during communication. And evenings spent in the living room talking about life pass too quickly.
• Love is best spoken and shown. Words are important. But so are actions. My parents express love using both.
• Love your work. Both my mom and my dad love their work. It’s no coincidence that I do too.
• Overcome difficulties. This world isn’t easy. And our lives are defined by how we respond in adversity. The greatest among us overcome trials and seek to learn from them.
• Pack an afternoon snack. My dad also taught me the value of a fun-size Snickers bar in the afternoon.
• Parenting matters. Stephanie Martson once said, “Everything our children hear, see, and feel is recorded onto a cassette. Guess who is the big star in their movie? You are.” The lives we live and the decisions we make absolutely matter in the worldview of our children.
• Play athletics. I learned to love sports from my dad.
• Play board games. But I learned to love board games from my mom.
• Practice generosity. Give your life and resources to others as much and as often as you can. They need your help. Your kids need the example. And you need the practice even more than them.
• Remain honest. It’s no great accomplishment to be honest when it is easy. But our true appreciation of honesty is displayed when it is difficult. And a truly honest man or woman is hard to find these days. I’m so glad to have two in my life.
• Respect character. Your character is of far more value than anything you can sell it for. Don’t trade it for something foolish like money, fame, power, sex, or the entire world.
• Rise early. I have vivid memories of playing basketball with my father at 6am before school would start. Great memories. But an even greater example.
• Schedule rest. As long as I can remember, my mother and father have taken naps on Sunday afternoons. They were probably just tired. But for me, it became a healthy model of appreciating both hard work and scheduled rest.
• Seek God. Some people choose to reject God. Others choose to ignore Him. My parents taught me to seek Him. And as the old saying goes, “If you seek, you will find.”
• Serve others. As I learned from them in both word and deed, life is bigger than yourself. And truest life, fulfillment, meaning, and joy is found in the service of others.
• Study words. My mother loves games that value words: Scrabble, Boggle, even Words with Friends. And even to this day, unless I cheat, I am unable to beat her.
• Take care of the elderly. The sunset is no less beautiful than the sunrise. I’m grateful for parents who see the beauty in young children, but I am also grateful for parents who have stood by those at the end of their life as well.
• Track spending. My dad is a banker with a mind for numbers. As a result, I can’t possibly remember the complicated system that he used to track our family’s budget… nobody else could either. But what I did learn is the importance of tracking dollars and developing budgets. And I’ll take that any day.
• Trust others. I learned optimism from my parents. They live their lives seeing the good in others and trusting them because of it. They taught me it is better to trust and get burnt once in awhile than to live your entire life suspicious of everyone around you.
• Use your talents. As I mentioned, my dad is a financial guy and my mom is a gifted teacher and trainer. Apart from their careers, they often use their talents in various community-based organizations to better the lives of others. They recognize their gifts and utilize them whenever possible.
• Vacations don’t have to be expensive. We went on summer vacations almost every summer growing up. And while a few of them required a significant financial investment, most of them didn’t. But we enjoyed all of them regardless of the destination (except for maybe the drive through the Colorado mountains without an air conditioner…).
• Value children. Both my mother and father love children and continue to invest their lives into kids. As a matter of act, even at age 60, you can still find my dad on the floor playing with his grand-kids.
• Value education. The ability to learn is a gift and a responsibility. My parents taught us early not to take it for granted.
• Value family. I’m so thankful to have grown up in a family that was filled with love, care, and joy. If you did not, seek to develop those attributes in your own life/family today. I can attest that your kids will forever thank you for it.
• Volunteer. Give freely to your community. Your gift is needed. And it makes the world a better place for everyone.
• Work hard. My parents have not wasted their lives. Their example has taught me the value of working hard and pursuing lasting significance over worldly success.
Mom and Dad, I can’t possibly express how thankful I am for each of you. Happy 60th birthday. Here’s to 60 more.

One thing that I noticed immediately when joining Buffer was our emphasis on cultivating positivity. If you take a quick look at you can see the high priority we place on this. Since I joined the team, positive thinking is something I’ve focused on a lot, and it’s been fun to see how spending time with positive thinkers rubs off on me.
At the moment, some of us are experimenting with sharing one great moment we had at the end of each day. I’ve found that making this a habit has encouraged me to look out for positive moments during the day, since I know I’ll need to share one later on. It’s also been a great way to increase my feelings of gratitude—often for everyday things, like a great coffee to start the day or encouragement from a friend.
I wanted to really dig into positive thinking as a habit and see what science has to say about it. I found some really interesting research on how positive thinking can improve our health and happiness, as well as some great advice to cultivate a habit of being positive.

Why be positive in the first place? – Consider these 3 key benefits

Before we get into building positivity into your life, let’s look at why we would even bother. What are the real benefits of being more positive?
The first thing I realized is how negative emotions affect us: they have proven many times and scope of work. It’s one of the most powerful ways shut our minds off to opportunities or new ideas. This is why  is so great—it encourages listening with a positive emotion (agreeability) in mind, so that our minds will more naturally open up to what the speaker is saying.
We know that the effects of negative emotions are biological instincts programmed into our brains to help us survive. For example, if we were to come across a dangerous animal in the wild, the negative emotions of fear and anxiety would narrow our focus so that all we could think about was not becoming that animal’s dinner. This helped us to more efficiently direct our energy and mental functions towards that objective, without wasting our resources on unnecessary actions like working out which direction we’re going or thinking about what to have for dinner when we get home.
Of course, modern life doesn’t often put us in life-and-death situations like this, so allowing negative emotions to narrow our thinking can be harmful. It can make us less open, more hard-headed and more difficult to communicate with.

1. Negativity doesn’t work – Literally – Our subconcious brain can’t handle it

The other thing about negativity is that  according to the latest studies. So when we hear phrase like “don’t smoke” or “don’t touch that,” our subconscious skips over these negative words and simply hears “smoke” or “touch that.” Ourconscious mind can obviously process these words, but it’s the subconscious that makes a lot of our decisions without us realizing.
For young children, this can often be an issue because they haven’t learned to use their conscious minds to process those negative words and take control of the subconscious to make sure they follow instructions correctly. It’s no surprise why children decide that way if you look at the split between conscious and subconscious mind according to psychology:
What this means for us is that we struggle to change our habits or thought patterns when we tell ourselves negative phrases, since only our conscious minds can take those in. We can make this much easier and let the subconscious do its job by using positively-framed phrases like “refrain from smoking” or “walk away from that.”

2. You’ll improve your outlook of the future

Positive thinking can actually improve our overall happiness. I’ve written about this before in terms of noting down things we’re grateful for on a regular basis and how that can improve our happiness.
also showed that positive emotions are more likely to encourage people to plan ahead and think of actions they would like to take or activities they’d like to participate in the future. Negative emotions, on the other hand, led to participants being less inclined to think positively about their future.

3. You’ll be more healthy

Yep, positivist has shown to directly affect your physical health used the ancient practice of loving-kindness  to test how cultivating positive feelings like love, compassion and goodwill towards others could affect the emotional and physical health of the participants.
Compared to the control group who did not participate in the meditation, the mediators showed increases in positive emotions like amusement, awe and gratitude during the research period. They also reported feeling more socially connected and closer to the people around them.
Physically, these participants showed improvements in  which is linked to cardiovascular health and a general indicator of physical well-being.

Cultivating the positivity habit – 4 things to start with

Now that we know how beneficial positivity can be to our health and happiness, let’s look at some ways of building a habit of being positive.

1. Prepare your environment

Leo Babura always has great advice on building habits, and. The environment we try to build new habits in (or break old ones, even) has a huge effect on how successful we are. Environment in this case includes the people we spend time with and the messages we hear or tell ourselves, as well as our physical environment.
The trick here is to ensure your environment is as conducive to you continuing your new habit as possible. Here are some of Leo’s suggestions for how to achieve this:
·                     Hang out with people who are doing the habit you want to do.
·                     If there are people around you who don’t do the habit you want to do, talk to them about what you’re trying to do, and ask for their help. Ask them to support you, and not rag on you all the time for changing.
·                     Join a supportive community online who are doing the things you want to do.
·                     Read blogs and books that inspire you to do the habit.
·                     Have reminders all around you.
·                     Create a public challenge for yourself, to create accountability.
·                     Have a habit partner you report to each day, and make a vow never to miss.
In terms of being positive, you could find a friend or family member to do this with to keep you accountable, or set a daily reminder so you don’t forget. Filling your work space with positive sayings or images could help, and reading books that encourage positive thinking will reinforce this.

2. Start smaller than you think – The “floss only 1 tooth” – approach

Another of my favorite pieces of advice from  is to make your habit so small that you can’t say no. If you do this to start with, you can focus more on building a habit, rather than on results or how big your habit is.
Here’s Leo’s explanation of why this works:
Another common habit that too few people actually do is flossing daily. So my advice is just floss one tooth the first night.
Of course, that seems so ridiculous most people laugh. But I’m totally serious: if you start out exceedingly small, you won’t say no. You’ll feel crazy if you don’t do it. And so you’ll actually do it!
That’s the point. Actually doing the habit is much more important than how much you do.
Right now I’m just taking note of one great moment I noticed, at the end of each day. Sometimes it only takes a few words to share this, sometimes it’s two sentences. I’ve incorporated it into my daily practice of  with the Buffer team, so it’s easy to remember and easy to do.
Starting small has helped me to incorporate the practice into every day so it’s becoming a habit, without worrying about what a big task it is.

3. Take note of 1 positive moment every day

Noticing the positive things that happen in your everyday life has been proven to be of increasing your positive thinking. This doesn’t just happen when you’re doing the exercise: the effects can actually last much longer.
had one half of them write about positive experiences for three consecutive days. The second half wrote about control topics that didn’t affect their emotions. After three months, the study found that the students who had written about positive experiences still had better mood levels and fewer illnesses. If your  like they do for me, not to worry, you can take notes there too with something like Aqua notes:
Negativity that’s often said to improve positivist is to write down (or share with someone) three things you’re grateful for at the end of each day.