The Power of Thoughts
Have you ever felt tired at the end of a day, and wondered why when you felt you hadn’t done much? A recent study showed that we average over 6,000 thoughts per day – that’s a lot of work and those thoughts truly do shape our lives. There is plenty of evidence that our thoughts – positive or negative – affect our mental and physical health. Research has also shown that people who have a positive self-image are better problem solvers and are more likely to achieve their goals.
Put simply, positive thoughts lead to better physical and mental health and increase in your ability to adapt to difficulties, resulting in better outcomes.
You choose your thoughts
We have all seen the quotes to start our day: “Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.” “Start each day with positive thoughts and a grateful heart.” “Always look on the bright side.” These are helpful, but it takes a little bit more than a cheery quote with our morning caffeine to retrain ourselves to be positive thinkers.
It takes intention and awareness to change those 6000 thoughts, something we are not trained to do. Think about the traditional performance appraisals you have had in the past. Your boss spent 60 seconds on what you did well, then 30 minutes on your weaknesses and what you needed to improve. What if you took that 30 minutes to work on growing your strengths? How would your business be different if you focused on what you can do for your customers?
Does it really work?
By now your negative thinking is asking if positive thinking really works or is this just wishful thinking. Again, science has shown that when you think in new ways, you are actually creating new neural pathways. Over time, the negative pathways will actually shrink, making it easier to think positively.
If I asked you what controls your feelings, what makes you happy or angry, you would likely list events or situations that trigger these emotions. In reality it is your thoughts about these events that trigger the emotions. Let’s look at an example at Acme Services. A form used daily is often filled out incorrectly, leading to frustrations and delays. Manager A gets angry, often expressing his dissatisfaction to his team. Manager B searches out a solution with her team. Maybe the form is poorly designed, or new employees have not been trained on how to complete it correctly. Manager B acknowledges the problem, fixes it, and gets rewarded. Which manager do you want to hire? Which manager do you want to be?
Take positive steps towards positivity
You do have the power to become a positive thinker. Here are a few steps to take to shift your thinking:
- Take time to praise yourself and others for little things.
- Surround yourself with positive people who will support you.
- When you become aware of negative thoughts, acknowledge them, perhaps write them down, then ask yourself how you can reframe them. Replace the word “can’t” with “can” to focus on what action you can take today.
- Do something to help someone else. Make a donation, volunteer, help a neighbor in need.
- List at least five things you have accomplished so far in your life.
There are many times when we experience negative feelings in our lives, anger, depression, confusion, stress. That is part of life. You have the choice to dwell on the negative or shift your thinking to the positive. We are not helpless; some type of change is always possible. Acknowledge that a difficult situation will end and focus on what you can do to change it.
Our thoughts are powerful, and they become self-fulfilling. Make a conscious choice of positive thoughts. The results will be better health, improved concentration, and progress towards your goals.
Author: Sandy Merritt , Business Coach in Louisville, KY