The mind-blowing benefits of positive thinking
Adopting a winning mentality can super-charge your health and happiness and help you achieve your goals. It may even contribute to a longer lifespan.
Are you a “glass half empty” kind of person?
It might be time to flip that outlook on its head and start looking on the upside.
Research shows adopting a winning mentality comes with a raft of potential benefits – including a healthy heart, for starters.
A John Hopkins University study found people with a family history of heart disease were one third less likely to have a heart attack if they had a positive outlook.
Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic says positive thinking and optimism may deliver you a longer life span and less risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory conditions and infections.
How the right mindset can make you a winner
The physical rewards that come with an winning mentality come as no surprise to former Cronulla Sharks NRL player and Flow Athletic founder Ben Lucas.
Ben says elite sport teams have had psychologists and mindset coaches on staff for years because they recognise the right attitude will “help to give an athlete the winning edge over the competition”.
“You can have all the skill, speed and endurance in the world but if your mindset is not right, that may stop you from achieving your goals and/or it may stop you from being as good as you can possibly be,” Ben says.
Benefits of a positive outlook
Counsellor and The Curious Life podcast host Jana Firestone says lots of research demonstrates links between mindset, health and happiness.
“For example, some studies have found an increase in positive emotions leads to higher levels of happiness, faster psychological growth and higher levels of resiliency,” Jana says.
“It also reduces cortisol levels, inflammatory responses to stress, and stroke.
“In fact, several longitudinal studies even document a clear link between frequent positive emotions and longevity.
“The research shows that shifting our mindset and being able to maintain a positive outlook in life has lasting health, psychological and career benefits.”
How a winning mentality helps you deal with tough moments
High Performance Mindfulness founder Emma Murray has helped AFL footballers, cricketers and race car drivers shift their mindset to achieve success both personally and professionally.
She advocates an optimistic outlook.
“Optimism is not positivity; optimism is effectively saying, ‘Hey, this is tough, but I believe in my tools and my inner drive to find a way through it’,” she explains.
Having a helpful mindset doesn’t mean you will never have another bad day, get angry or feel sad again.
Emma says it’s about shifting your innate responses to those moments so that, after a bad day, you don’t reach for a bottle of wine, shout at the kids or order up big on Uber Eats — but use them as motivation for the gym or taking some time out for mindfulness.
“Our mind wiring is powerful. It’s there to keep us alive. You know, it’s not about getting it right all the time,” she says.
“It’s about being able to have that awareness when you can get it right and learn from it, so next time you can do a little bit better.”
Don’t be blindly positive
Soul Alive founder and meditation expert Luke McLeod cautions that happy thoughts will only get you so far.
“A positive mindset can certainly help but an aware mindset is much better,” he says.
“Being delusionally positive can be just as bad as having a negative mindset because life’s not like that.
“If there’s a situation that requires you to really question and be sceptical about it, then do so.
“Blind positivity can lead to people really taking advantage of you. An aware mindset sees things as they are – the good and bad — which then puts you in the best possible position to respond.”
Practise makes perfect
Like any skill, Jana says, attaining a winning mindset is something that takes practise and perseverance.
But she says it is worth the effort.
“I have seen people flourish in countless ways through a positive mindset,” she says.
“From steering away from unhealthy relationships and into beautiful ones, to shifts in career and vocational paths.
“But most importantly, the most significant transformations have come from the evolution of self-worth.”
More on mindset:
- Healthy ways to boost your dopamine
- When ‘always looking on the bright side’ can actually be bad
- Why you need to stand up tall to look and feel more confident
- The 3 building blocks for happiness, according to an expert
Written by Siobhan Duck.