If you made it through high school English Lit, then you may remember it was Shakespeare’s Hamlet who said: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
The “Bard” was wise about many things, even 400 years ago. And he was spot-on here.
In fact, today’s leading psychologists remind us that when we adopt an attitude of wellbeing, we have control over our own body and how healthy it will be. So we can choose – it’s up to us!
Of course, the goal is to have outstanding, vibrant health, not just to be merely free of disease.
But the exciting news is that wellness can be a natural normal state if “thinking makes it so.”
Positives and Negatives
Numerous studies have demonstrated that positive thinkers are generally optimistic and hopeful about life. They also enjoy better health than those who are pessimistic or negative thinkers.
Positive people are proven to feel more energetic, get fewer colds, flu, and other diseases, and recover more quickly from illness. Scientists are studying COVID patients who have recovered to inquire about their levels of optimism compared to others. Could thinking positively shorten an illness? The latest studies are heavily leaning in that direction.
While we wait for the definitive results, have you noticed that people with a positive attitude are more enjoyable to be with? Their optimism actually attracts more positive energy toward them as a result.
Naturally, all of these studies don’t mean to suggest that a positive attitude makes everyone’s problems and worries go away. But they do make those problems feel like a much lighter burden, so they are easier to endure.
On The Road To Positivity
Get your positive thinking cap on and begin your journey to better moments, days, and weeks ahead. How do we get there? The first step is to recognize the signposts that say you are beginning to enter negative thought territory. Try to catch yourself when you begin to criticize the clothes someone is wearing, or how the neighbor’s lawn looks. You can’t very well enjoy an evening stroll around the block if all you do is count the dandelions in everyone’s yard.
As you find yourself feeling irritable, or angry, remember there are always negative thoughts going on behind these unpleasant experiences. You don’t have to stop to smell the roses, but you do have to pause and ask yourself “what am I thinking?” Then tell yourself to get rid of those negative thoughts before they take full bloom. This will create a void that leaves you room to substitute positive thoughts in their place.
For example, instead of letting yourself think “These gas prices are way too high,” replace that thought with something like “I am glad that we have plenty of gas and the freedom to drive wherever we want.”
Instead of thinking “I hate my job,” let yourself think “No job is perfect, and there are actually a few nice people I enjoy working with.”
You can be in full control of your mind if you put in the effort to pay attention. It takes time to change your thinking habits. Focus on how a positive attitude will make life become much more pleasant. And you’ll arrive at Positivity before you know it.
When All Else Fails – Just Smile
You’ve probably heard the expression: “Fake it ‘til you make it,” and not given it much thought. The true meaning behind it is that happiness can be a decision vs. just a pure feeling or emotion.
Put it to the test. The next time you don’t feel like it, smile and act happy anyway. You might be surprised at how quickly your “case of the grumps” can turn into positive feelings.
What you will most certainly find is that the people around you will react in a happy way to your smiles. Surrounding yourself with positive people makes you feel that way, too. Smiles are every bit as contagious as yawns. Which would you rather do?
Good Times = Fond Remembrances
Take the time to create “feel good experiences.” Anything safe that brings you pleasure. It might be stargazing, going for a nature hike, gardening in the fresh air, playing a board game with friends, or doing a hobby like scrapbooking or practicing piano. Each of these experiences bring a lot of pleasant thoughts along with them. Thoughts you can recall later when you’re having a bad day. Thoughts that also give you something to look forward to when you’re going through a rough patch.
Learn to appreciate the little pleasures that happen every day. Playing with the dog. Hot water from the shower on your shoulders. Laughing at an old sit-com rerun. Notice the joy from things while you are doing them. Even just admiring the sunrise from your kitchen or your morning commute.
Seeing is Believing
Beyond the old glass-half-empty-vs.-half-full scenario, it is true that the way we look at things has a strong impact on our mood.
There are always options for being more positive about otherwise negative situations – depending upon how you look at it.
For this reason, it really is true that life is what you make it. Never discount the power you have to make a day positive or negative. You get to choose. “Thinking makes it so.”
And not only does choosing a positive attitude feel good, it also helps to maintain or improve wellbeing.
Another Shakespeare bit of wisdom to consider: “Health shall live free, and sickness freely die.” From the aptly titled: All’s well that ends well.
By Mark Smith, contributing author
We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others. Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. UCA resources available to help include the Self-Care Center, Virtual Volunteering, radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.