Our world seems to be increasingly full of bad news, which can make it incredibly difficult to maintain a positive outlook. But positive thinking isn’t just about keeping a smile on your face when things get tough. Below, we’ve outlined 10 benefits of maintaining a positive outlook on life.
1. Increased Life Span
Who doesn’t want to live longer? It might sound far-fetched, but maintaining a positive outlook can actually add years to your life expectancy. The findings of a study conducted at Yale University in 2002 suggested a link between positive self-perception of aging and increased longevity. The study of 660 individuals over the age of 50 found that, on average, those with a positive self-perception of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with a negative self-perception of aging. These findings were echoed in a study in 2019, which found increased levels of optimism can result in an 11% to 15% longer lifespan, and an increased likelihood of living to age 85 or older. So, try keeping a positive mindset, it might give you some extra years!
2. Reduced Stress Levels
The world we live in can be a very stressful place. Whether it’s work, financial, or relationship stress, it’s often difficult to avoid. Adopting a positive mindset won’t eliminate these pressures from your life, and it doesn’t mean that you should bury your head in the sand. Instead, it means that you need to change the way you perceive this stress. When problems arise, try to frame them in a more positive light. It can be incredibly frustrating when your car gets a flat tire. But instead of dwelling on the fact that you’re having to spend money on a new tire, focus on the positives that can come from getting new tires, such as increased road safety and fuel efficiency. Trying to shift your mindset when faced with problems will help to greatly reduce your stress levels.
3. You’ll Feel Happier
We all want to live a happier life, don’t we? Most of us do, at any rate. The problem is that human beings very rarely know what it is that will make them happy. We equate happiness with success as if it is something you can “find,” as the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It isn’t. Happiness is a choice.
There’s an old saying that goes “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” Things will happen in your life that are out of your control; the only thing you can control is how you react. An optimist confronts problems by trying to solve them or seeing them as a lesson to be learned, whereas a pessimist will view the problem as being insurmountable and defeating. Practice positive thinking to try and keep a lid on negative thoughts, reframe the way you look at problems, and you’ll feel happier as a result.
4. Increased Physical Health
We’ve already talked about the fact that positive thinking can help to reduce stress levels. Reduced levels of stress result in lower blood pressure, which drastically lowers your risk of heart disease and strokes. Not only that, but those with a positive mindset tend to lead healthier lifestyles. Whether it be through increased exercise or adopting a healthier diet, research suggests that positive thinkers tend to have lower levels of cholesterol than their pessimistic counterparts.
5. Improved Mental Health
It isn’t just your physical health that benefits from a positive outlook. It can work wonders for your mental health as well, substantially decreasing the risk of developing anxiety or depression. Research suggests that by embracing a positive mindset, you naturally spend less time focusing on the stresses and the negatives that are a part of everyday life. While we all go through hard times, it is the optimistic among us who tend to get through them easier than others.
6. Boosted Immune System
What would you say if I told you that a healthy dose of optimism could help your body fight off the common cold? It’s true! Researchers at the University of Kentucky conducted a study examining the link between levels of optimism and levels of immunity. The research found that as levels of optimism among the subjects changed over time, so did the strength of the subjects’ immune response. The strength of the immune response rose and fell line with the subject’s feelings of optimism. It goes to show, an apple a day isn’t the only thing that keeps the doctor away; a positive attitude will as well!
7. Better Relationships
It isn’t only yourself who benefits from a more optimistic mindset; the people in your life will notice the difference in you as well. Suffering from stress and negative thoughts will have an impact on your mood, which will be apparent to the people in your life, and you can risk pushing those closest to you away with your negativity. If you adopt a more positive outlook, you’ll feel happier and more content with your lot in life, and people will feel happier around you. Positivity is contagious. Human beings are social animals, but we naturally gravitate to those whom we feel most comfortable around. Your thoughts determine your happiness, and your happiness can have a huge impact on the strength of your relationships.
8. Higher Self-Esteem
If you’ve embraced a negative mindset, it’s more than likely that you also struggle with your self-image and self-esteem. This stems directly from the fact that when stresses present themselves in your life, you probably direct the negative emotions you feel towards yourself. You most likely blame yourself for the situation you’re in, which can form a cycle that’s incredibly difficult to get out of.
Instead of blaming yourself, try to view your mistakes as lessons that you commit to learning from so that you can produce a different outcome next time. Instead of putting yourself down, try identifying three characteristics that you like about yourself.
To be truly happy, you must have a positive attitude towards yourself. Practice self-affirmation daily until it becomes a habit. Try standing in front of a mirror every morning and telling yourself, “I am awesome!” It might sound silly, but the most successful people in the world are the ones who have the most confidence in themselves and their ability to reach their goals. It might take a little practice and time to shut down that negative inner monologue, but adopting a positive mindset can help your self-confidence levels soar sky-high.
9. It Can Give You Perspective
Given the volume of stress which impacts our everyday life, it’s a wonder that we ever leave the house. When you’re struggling to shift a negative mindset, it’s easy to view every minor inconvenience, such as traffic on your way to work, as being the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you adopt a more positive view of the world, you’ll realize that the traffic on your way to work is just that, traffic. It’s a given in the world we live in, and it isn’t worth getting stressed or worked up over. A positive mindset can help put “problems” like these into perspective and allow you to focus on the things which truly matter: your health, your happiness, and your relationships.
10. It Can Make You View Your Problems in a New Light
The truly positive-minded don’t view problems in the same way as you and me. They don’t view problems as stress-inducing things to be avoided, they see them as opportunities. Whether it be an opportunity to learn or to grow, this shift in mindset will completely change your response when you’re faced with new “opportunities.”
Also, try to avoid compounding the problem by envisioning potential outcomes. If you’re caught in traffic on the way to work, it’s easy for your mind to jump straight from ‘I’m going to be late’ to ‘I’m going to be in trouble with my boss for being late.’ This compounding achieves nothing other than increasing your stress levels. Focus on the situation, not the outcome that your mind feeds you.
Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer can form part of your outlook on the world, how you view yourself and your own life, and how you deal with problems should they arise. Keeping a positive outlook can help you overcome these problems with grace, and ultimately help you regain inner peace.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.