Why It Pays to Focus on the Good Stuff
I have to admit, it can be really hard for me to get motivated to exercise. I know it’s incredibly good for me and I feel better, but for some reason, it’s still hard. The same can be true for remembering and choosing to notice the good stuff in my life. Sometimes it’s just easier to ruminate and let myself be upset, anxious or feel down. It can seem like an impossible effort to break the downward spiral and shift my thoughts to something more positive.
And yet, I don’t want to waste my life stuck in negative emotions. Not only do they take the enjoyment out of life, they hold us back from having the kind of life we want. Our days are so much better when we enjoy emotions like gratitude, joy, love, amusement, hope, serenity and interest. AND there are added benefits.
- When we are in positive emotions, we think more clearly and make better decisions. For example, doctors primed to experience a positive emotion are more accurate at diagnosing their patients illnesses and students perform better on exams.
- Positive emotions help us see the bigger picture. Studies show that people notice more of their surroundings and see more options.
- People are more creative and can come up with more uses for simple household objects.
- Data also suggest that higher levels of positivity make us healthier and we may even live longer.
- Experiencing more positive emotions promotes resiliency. Research shows we recover from the negative emotions more quickly both physically (decreased cortisol, blood pressure and heart rate) and emotionally.
To be fair, negative emotions can serve a purpose — so next week I will share some of their benefits. Like so many things in life, there is a balance.
But practicing positivity is like brushing your teeth – it doesn’t last so you have to repeat often. That’s where the effort and practice come in. Our brain’s default is to notice and focus on all the bad stuff but instead we can muster the energy to pause and CHOOSE more positive thoughts and attitudes. I hope that reading about some of these great benefits will help motivate you to make the effort!
I would like to end on this thought.
What is the definition of true success? True success is not the money you earn or the things you own. True success is the emotions you feel every day. If you feel gratitude, serenity, and optimism, you are successful beyond measure.
Here’s to your success in 2015!
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations fulfill their true potential using strategies from the science of Positive Psychology.