The Science of Positive Thinking

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Positive thinking is a term which every people knows very well. Many people have ever told you about positive thinking. About the power lies behind positive mind. It’s really easy to think positively when you feel satisfied or you feel good with your life: you are the best in your class, you get a well-paid job, you have nice bestfriends, you are loved, you have a lover that loves you with all of his soul. In contrast, it can be very challenging for you to think positively while you are not in a good condition, when you are in your bad or worst time: you don’t do that well in class, you get fired or even you find it very hard to have a proper job, you are betrayed, you are hated, you are alone. Can you stay positive when everything seems like it goes wrong and when life shows you that you are pathetic and that all of your struggles and hard works all this time has never given you any good results? No matter what, positive thinking is really important for your well-being. It IS difficult. But you have to do it. Be annoyingly optimistic and positive, rather than being pathetically hateful and negative. Many articles may view positive thinking from psychological point of view. But how does positive thinking really work from scientific lens? How does it work with your brain?

Barbara Fredrickson, a researcher from University of North Carolina conducted a research against several subjects. She divided the research subjects into 5 groups. Each group was given different movie clips:

1st group was shown a positive movie clip that created the feeling of JOY.

2nd group was shown a positive movie clip that created the feeling of CONTENTMENT.

3rd group was shown a neutral movie clip that produced no significant emotion. This is the control group.

4th group was shown a negative movie clip that created the feeling of FEAR.

5th group was shown a positive movie clip that created the feeling of ANGER.

After that, each participant was told to imagine if they were in similar situation as the movie clip that was shown to them. They were given a piece of paper to write “What would you do if you are in that situation?” The piece of paper contains 20 list numbers that they could fill as much as they could, with 20 is the maximum number.

The results showed that the groups that were shown positive movie clip give more number of answers than than the negative ones. To put it simply, the positive groups are able to think many options or many things that they can do when they are put in positive situation. Meanwhile, the negative groups are only able to think few options when they are put in negative situation.

So this is what actually happen to your brain: 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. On the contrary, when you are experiencing negative emotions like fear and anger, your brain limit your options, you only focus on one possible option that is safe for you.

Let’s see the example:

Imagine you are in a forest and then suddenly you meet a huge bear whose eyes filled with hunger. The very first normal reaction is to run away. There are actually many other options like climbing a tree, grab a stick to fight with the bear, stay in your position, or play dead. Actually, playing dead can also be effective because bear doesn’t eat corpse. However, your brain think that the safest option is to run away. It shows that negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts.

As you see, being positive affects your way of thinking and finally affects your action, and it results in positive outcome. It is proven in science. So start being positive! Don’t dwell in your negative mind. So how to be positive? Can you increase your positive thinking in your life? You can. Here are three things that you can do to increase your positive thinking:

  1. Meditation

Meditation is a way to clear your mind from negative thoughts. To refresh your mind. To calm your emotion. Eventually, your mind will be occupied by positive views. You can start by doing meditation regularly on daily basis. Do a simple meditation for ten minutes like closing your eyes and take a deep breath, and follow along. You can also browse other ways of meditation on internet.

  1. Writing

Writing is also a good therapy. You can start by writing a diary to pour all of your emotion in it. Write whatever you feel. There were several researches that proved that writing is an effective way to ease your mind from the burden that you have in your mind. So, what do you wait? Take a piece of paper and pen and start writing!

  1. Playing

Schedule your time for playing. Seriously. You have to start schedule your time for playing. Going on journey, travelling, hanging out with your friends, doing activity that can relax your mind. You may be busy but don’t forget to allocate a time to relax yourself, otherwise you will be drown in stress.

To conclude, 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. Be positive and positive things will come to you.

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Hi! I am YuniK. I am a fresh graduate that loves writing and reading (novels and japanese comics). I live in a small (yet comfortable and lovely) village in East Java, Indonesia. Writing has always been my passion, especially when I write in English. English is not my native language but I find it fascinating and I am eager to explore more about it. I am also a translator who specifies in Indonesian and English language pair. Nice to meet you ^_^ ~
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