Think positive. Don’t you get tired of hearing that worn out phrase? Not only is it overused, it is a lot harder to achieve than it sounds. You know this if you have ever tried to think positively for any amount of time. It is the same as someone telling you to “Get well soon”, as if it were a choice.

Why is it so hard to maintain a positive outlook? Besides the fact that life can be full of stressful, frustrating, and even heartbreaking situations.

You are, after all, human. Long ago, the human brain evolved and grew synapses that were trained to look for signs of danger to the human body’s survival. In modern days, this brain function still comes in handy if you are walking down a dark street alone at night and hear footsteps behind you. It serves you well when you hear the scream of an oncoming train. The rest of the time, the primitive brain just hangs out causing stress. If there is no danger, it will keep looking until it finds some, like a bored teenager looking for trouble.

It is primitive brain that tells you everything will not work out the way you want. Primitive brain tells you that you will get stuck in traffic, that you are going to be late, receive a poor performance review, not get the raise you had hoped for, and possibly be fired. Your brain tells you all these things and you haven’t even left the house yet.

The problem with viewing life through these gray-colored glasses is that it can be an extremely limiting view. Negativity does not allow you the freedom to be successful or happy, because you have doomed yourself before taking the first step.

                                             Positivity and Health

A collection of scientific studies have proven again and again how negative emotions eventually harm the body. Sustained stress alters biological systems, eventually causing illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Alternately, a 2007 study conducted by Harvard Health which followed 6,000 people over a period of 20 years found that emotional vitality (enthusiasm,hopefulness, engagement in life, emotional balance) appeared to reduce the risk of heart disease by a measurable amount.

Part of the good effects of positivity on health may be that people who are generally positive take better care of themselves. Those possessing consistently higher levels of positivity sleep better, exercise more, and have a healthier diet, according to a paper published by Carnegie Mellon University.

                              Positivity and Performance

Positive thinking can add to your performance, productivity, and creativity as well as providing health benefits. 

In a study at Brandeis University, researchers used eye-tracking technology to measure the effects of positivity on visual attention. The findings showed that by imagining a joyful memory or receiving kindness, the subject’s visual attention was broadened, reflecting an enhanced creative problem-solving ability.

Those in management positions have also been found to be more successful in undertakings if they have a positive outlook. Scientists at the University of California, Berkely Haas School of Business found that more positive managers were careful decision-makers, effective in working relationships, and had a positive effect on their teams, thereby creating a collaborative and productive environment.

                                             Pause, and Identify

First, you have to recognize the negative patterns of thoughts that may be destroying your potential. You may not realize how many negative thought you have in the course of a day. Try counting them. Even better, try writing them down for later review. You may be surprised at how much negativity you are swimming in on a daily basis. Not only are you creating a negative environment in your brain, you are lying to yourself. Notice how often you exaggerate the negative things. “Why does this always happen to me?” “Why do things never go right?”

Once you have identified the lies you are telling yourself, you can fight them. Try turning these negative statements around, one by one. Find a positive lesson in everything you can. Focus on the one good thing that happened during the day. Eventually, you will be able to chase away primitive brain with his big mouth and take control of your outlook on life.