“Hakuna Matata!” It means no worries for the rest of your days! This phrase comes from the Swahili language and has been popularized in the Disney animated movie, The Lion King. Ever wondered why they’re so happy singing that phrase over and over? Psychologists now suggest thinking positively may actually have an effect on reducing overall stress levels.
Being clear on thinking positive
Positive thinking is different from ignorance. The Chopra website says positive thinking is…
- Acknowledging when things go wrong.
- Is adopting a growth mindset.
- Thinking is confidence in your ability to remain calm amid chaos.
- Thinking changes your ability to survive to an option to thrive.
In addition, Kendra Cherry, MS, and Psychiatrist Carly Snyder, MD, says, “Positive thinking does not necessarily mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things; instead, it involves making the most of the potentially bad situations, trying to see the best in other people, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.”
A study from Johns Hopkins University reported, “people with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.”
Those who were able to look on the bright side and think positively were able to decrease their risk by 13 percent, the study found.
Other health benefits from positive thinking include:
- increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Ways to Be Happier
A University of Kansas study cites simply smiling more may reduce blood pressure and heart rate. It does not seem to matter if you are genuinely smiling or fake smiling, showing your pearly whites is a great way to induce happy feelings.
Reframe the Situation
We often get stuck in situations that we do not want to be in (i.e. traffic jams). One way to be happier and increase positive thinking is by reframing the situation and perspective. Johns Hopkins University explains, “Instead of stressing about a traffic jam, for instance, appreciate the fact that you can afford a car and get to spend a few extra minutes listening to music or the news, accepting that there is absolutely nothing you can do about the traffic.”
Resiliency is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. You can build resiliency through maintaining a good support system of family and friends, accepting that change is a part of life, and we must go through it, and understand that actions speak louder than words. Take action if something is bothering you and if you cannot do anything about it, why worry?
Practice Positive Self-Talk
If you want to be positive, it must start internally. Throughout the day, periodically check in with yourself and observe if you are talking to yourself in a positive or negative way. Be gentle with yourself if this does not come easily to you. Remember to practice self-compassion. Good things take time.
Using Positive Affirmations
Affirmations are defined as statements or propositions that are declared to be true. Affirmations are stated either out loud or in your mind. They help to affirm what you want to achieve or feel. When creating a positive affirmation, it is best to make the statement present-tense as if you are already living it. This reprograms your mind to think that you already possess the traits and qualities you are affirming to yourself. Examples include:
- I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to
- I forgive myself for not being perfect because I know I’m human.
- I know, accept, and am true to myself.