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To Infinity and Beyond: Harnessing the Power of Positive Thinking

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

Positive thinking can make you a better problem-solver.

  • Successful business leaders have cited positive thinking and optimism as a strategy for succeeding in work and life.
  • The power of positive thinking is leaving yourself open to success and happiness. Positive thinkers avoid negative thoughts and self-criticism.
  • Improve your outlook by practicing daily affirmations and always focusing on the positive in any situation.

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?

What is the power of positive thinking?

The idea behind the power of positive thinking is that when your mind is in a positive place, good things come into your life. Being optimistic opens yourself up to allowing good things to come your way. Some people believe positive thinkers aren't realists. However, even if each day doesn't go perfectly, they hone in on the parts that did. Furthermore, the power of positive thinking is that you will attract others like you and all encourage one another to reach your life goals.

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.

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 that "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."

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.

Tips on practicing positive thinking

Start each day on a positive note by focusing on the good in your life. You may want to say a positive affirmation or take the time to consider the things you're most looking forward to that day.

Stopping negative self-talk is another positive thinking strategy. Being your own worst critic is self-sabotaging. Turn any setbacks or failures into life lessons that you could use later on. Always keep your mind on the present and the future, leave the past in the past.

Psychology Today offers a unique exercise to increase your ability to think positively. The authors suggest writing phrases like laughter and happiness on index cards and cutting each word in half. To match the word to each piece, your brain has to recall positive memories and feelings.

Image Credit: ESB Professional / Shutterstock
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