The Power of Positive Thinking

This approach emphasises the link between the mind and the body. It directly connects what you believe with what you can achieve.

The message here is that by thinking in a positive manner we are more likely to get positive results. This may sound just like the Children’s Story “The Little Engine That Could” but if you look on the website of Cancer Research UK you will find references to how visualisation has been used to manage symptoms of cancer.

What is it?

Essentially, in positive thinking you are drawing on your own mental resources in helping you to achieve goals and to be more in control of your moods and your behaviour and what you can achieve.

A positive mind anticipates happiness, health and success, and believes that in spite of obstacles or difficulties success is possible. It is certainly possible to change your perspective if you are willing to work at it. Here are some steps to follow:

Begin by believing that “happiness” is a choice; one that you make and one that you can have a lot more control over. For example; two people get into the elevator in the morning- they both travelled to work the same way and it rained on both of them as they got to work. For one person it was a miserable start to her day for the other person it was just about getting to work and she was still happy about seeing her friends later. When they arrived at their desk one woman arrived already tinged by negativity and the other arrived with optimism; which of them do you think was easier to work with?

Some people give up their choice to be happy by the way they see the world. Having something to look forward to is important for all of us.

You can begin to embrace positive thinking by monitoring how much positive you can see if you look. Catch yourself when you begin to criticise or when you hear others moaning about things in their life. Are you feeding your own negativity? Notice happiness in your life and state it to yourself and to others.

If you enjoy the sandwich tell yourself “this tastes good”. If you are having fun with friends don’t be afraid to say “hey I am having a good time”. Often people only comment on the negative “this food is bad”, “I’m not enjoying this” “I wish I could be somewhere else”. So how about trying to balance that with noticing the positive times when you are feeling happy. Imagine your comments were like photographs: photos often remind us of the happy moments in our lives can you imagine a collection of photos which were all about the times when you felt miserable or were having a bad time? That’s what we end up collecting when we only comment on the negative. It’s time to get a new album of positive messages to yourself.

Recognise the times when you do things well and are pleased with what you have achieved.

This can be personal achievements, things that you have put effort into a feel pleased about. It may be a project you did, it may be how you look or it may be how you are with people. There are things that you do well and feel pleased with:- there are also things you don’t do well and you know the difference. Allow yourself to receive compliments about the things you do well. Do not push the compliments away, do not say things like “oh it was just what anyone else would do”- no! no! If someone compliments you then learn to be gracious and say thank you and accept the compliment. You have earned it and it will feed your own positive self-belief.

Do not be afraid to say positive things to others as this is another way to nourish your own positivity. Have you noticed that you like being served by some people in a shop? Then tell them; it can make their day. Have you felt that somebody did a good thing? Do not be afraid to tell them.

Learn to thank people and be able to say what it was about what they did which caught your attention. Sharing positivity even just saying hello to people on the street where you live can feed your own positivity. Don’t be put off by the reactions of others don’t get infected by their negativity. Positive thinking means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span

  • Lower rates of depression

  • Lower levels of distress

  • Greater resistance to the common cold

  • Better psychological and physical well-being

  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease

  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles – they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess. Whatever the explanation, having a positive outlook on your life does make you a happier person and people around you notice what you bring into their lives too. Come on…you know you want to.. 🙂


Connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.Build relationships for wellbeing

Taking time to strengthen and broaden relationships is good for your wellbeing, and good for the wellbeing of the other people involved.

Building relationships for wellbeing means: There are many ways to build stronger and closer relationships:

  • Make time each day to spend with your family.

  • Arrange a day out with friends you haven’t seen for a while.

  • Switch off the TV tonight and play a game with the children, or just talk.

  • Speak to someone new today.

  • Have lunch with a colleague.

  • Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company.

  • Volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group. This is also a “way of time” that is fixed each day, or time that you find around other commitments, giving your time.

Be active

You don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.

If you really do not feel energetic start by going to the Exercise section on this website for some very simple ideas to get you started.

Keep learning

Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?

Classes and formal courses are great ways to learn new things, but there are lots of other ways too. You might:

  • Learn to cook a favourite dish that you’ve never eaten at home.

  • Visit a gallery or museum and learn about a person or period in history that interests you.

  • Take on a new responsibility at work, such as learning to use an IT system or understanding the monthly reports.

  • Fix that broken bike or garden gate. Once you’ve done that, how about setting yourself a bigger DIY project?

  • Sign up for a course you’ve been meaning to do at a local night school. You might learn a new language, or try something practical such as plumbing.

  • Rediscover an old hobby that challenges you, whether it’s making model aeroplanes, writing stories, sewing or knitting.

Give to others

Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.

Giving can take many forms, from small everyday acts to larger commitments.

Today, you could:

  • Say thank you to someone, for something they’ve done for you.

  • Phone a relative or friend who needs support or company.

  • Ask a colleague how they are and really listen to the answer.

  • Offer to lend a hand if you see a stranger struggling with bags or a pushchair.

  • This week, you could:

  • Arrange a day out for you and a friend or relative.

  • Offer to help a relative with DIY or a colleague with a work project.

  • Sign up to a mentoring project, in which you give time and support to someone who will benefit from it.

  • Volunteer in your local community. That might mean helping out at a local school, hospital or care home.

Be mindful

Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”, and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Learn more in the Mindfulness and Meditation section of this website.