Focusing on the Positive
Have you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophesy? A self-fulling prophecy is when something happens because we expect it to. In life perception is reality. In other words, the way we think about our lives, has a powerful impact on the quality of our lives. Our perspective is everything.
By placing our focus on the things which we view as being wrong in our lives, we are unconsciously narrowing our perspective, closing ourselves off from happiness, and promoting our own bad experiences. Negative thoughts about ourselves, our situations, or our relationships, tend to spiral downward. As we repeatedly replay these kinds of destructive thoughts in our minds, we become fixed on them and our lives dissolve into a constant state of turmoil, and stress. Every aspect of life becomes tainted. Work, personal relationships, and our health all suffer.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. Positive thoughts are equally powerful. By consciously choosing to appreciate, enjoy, and be grateful for all that is good in our lives, we can widen the scope of our attention, and multiply our good experiences. When we do that, we become open to the possibilities, we begin to see and appreciate the kindness of others, and we’re able to embrace life with a sense of optimism and well-being. This is called being mindful. When we look at the world through this lens, our relationships deepen, we experience more beauty in the world, we become aware of what truly matters in life, we are more kind to ourselves and to others, and good things begin to flow into our lives.
One easy and effective way to help you become more mindful, is to keep a gratitude journal. While this might sound a bit out-there, numerous studies have been done on the effects of positive emotions like gratitude. Researchers have found that gratitude is strongly correlated to, and is an indication of wellbeing. Gratitude has been shown to: improve sleep, improve immune function, benefit the cardiovascular system, lower cortisol in response to stress, reduce the risk of stroke, and to shorten and lesson episodes of depression.
In 2003, the American Psychological Association published the findings from a large research project on gratitude and thankfulness. The project which consisted of three different studies, was conducted by two of the most well-respected experts in the field of phycology, Dr. Robert A. Emmons, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough. Doctors Emmons & McCullough, found that people who kept a gratitude journal were more likely to achieve their goals, felt more optimistic and enthusiastic, and were more likely to help others.