“Keep your thoughts positive,
because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive,
because your words become your behaviours.
Keep your behaviors positive,
because your behaviors become your habits.
Keep your habits positive,
because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive,
because your values become your destiny.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about how powerful our thoughts, words and beliefs are – they create our world.
Synchronously, today I came across an article citing a landmark research paper by positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson that provides insights about positive thinking, and its impact on our skills. I’m sharing the short version of her findings in this post, if you’d like to read the details, you can find the article here.
Fredrickson found that when we are exposed to a negative stimulus, our brains register a negative emotion – ultimately the brain registers fear, because fear is at the root of all negative emotions. Our brains are still programmed to respond to negative emotions by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options we see around us – the fight or flight response. So, when we are focused on negativity, we don’t function properly because we cannot see the options around us to accomplish a given task, or move towards our goals and desires.
Conversely, when we are exposed to positive stimuli, our brains register positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, and expand to see more possibilities in the world around us. Not only did her experiments show that positive emotions promote the exploration and creation of new skills, they have an immediate impact on health and wellness. Her research showed that the effects of positivity are far-reaching; long after the initial effects of experiencing happiness faded, the skills developed as a result of that positive emotion lived on.
The article offers three suggestions for increasing positive thinking – meditation, play, and writing. Apparently, writing about positivity increases health and lowers stress levels. I didn’t have a baseline medical exam done at the beginning of this year before I started this blog to write about positivity every day for the whole year, so I cannot measure the health effects of my positivity project scientifically, but I can tell you that nine months in, I feel good, I sleep more soundly, and I don’t react to negative stimuli the way I used to.
Keep your thoughts positive…they become your destiny.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!