To Infinity & Beyond: Harnessing the Power of Positive Thinking

Business.com / Entrepreneurship / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The power of positive thinking can be applied to almost all aspects of life; but when applied in business, it can be the key to success.

There's an abundance of interviews with successful business leaders floating around the Internet and they make for great reading, most of the time. If we're honest, perhaps we read them with hope that some of their knowledge and good fortune will rub off on us.

But maybe we're overthinking it. Perhaps we shouldn't be looking at what they do, but how they do it. While it's impossible to say that every single successful entrepreneur is a positive person, it's highly unlikely that any of them approached their professional goals with anything less than a "can do" attitude.

So, could power of positive thinking be the key to success?

Positive thinking has been proven to help problem solving

Research by Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology professor who has written extensively about positivity, found that those who think positive thoughts have a greater capacity to take on board new information. This then improves a person's perspective and ability to "connect the dots", enabling them to tackle any problems and obstacles that may arise.

Related Article: Who is the Next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs? 

Positive thinkers have more energy

Whether you see things positively or negatively, this personality trait is called "dispositional affect". Scientists have long concluded that those of a positive dispositional affect have more energy and enthusiasm than those who have more negative affectivity.

That said, low levels of negative affectivity isn't a bad thing, as these people can be more calm and relaxed.

Positivity builds resilience

Very few entrepreneurs make it big with their first idea or business venture. There are often many failures and mistakes behind a prosperous business. The good news is that studies have shown that positivity can help you become more resilient. Fredrickson states "...positive emotions help speed recovery from negative emotions," even if the positive thinking is self-generated.

Positive thinking improves decision making

It is somewhat logical that if you're in a negative frame of mind, you're less likely to make decisions that have a positive impact. This is highlighted in the book Understanding the Entrepreneurial Mind, which states that "negative thinking from entrepreneurs in a negative mood could lead to decisions which are more likely to be poor for their venture".

Related Article: Stop Wasting Time: Tips to Raise Productivity and Reduce Procrastination

Positivity is infectious... Even in the workplace

The same book also highlights that positive-thinking entrepreneurs who have direct contact with their customers are more likely to persuade a (potential) customer to try a new product. That is because positivity is contagious.

Some say it's because the act of being positive towards another person releases the chemical oxytocin in the recipient's bloodstream and others state that it's to do with our 'mirror neurons' which cause us to replicate the actions of those who interact with us. In the case of the latter, it's worth remembering if you're a manager or team leader that this will also mean negative words and actions can be just as infectious too.

However... positive thinking is nothing without positive action

Much of the above may be old news to you, but more recent research referred to a 2014 book by Gabriele Oettingen, which found that just thinking positively about possible positive outcomes can actually be so energy-consuming that it prevents the person from actually achieving their goals, or indeed anything else.

In other words, positive thinking (or daydreaming) on its own is going to be ineffective, so it's time to start acting positively as well as thinking positive thoughts.

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