Positive thinking can be the answer to all sorts of woes in life. Good thoughts really work. But, why? Perceptions are just that – they aren’t ‘real’ concepts. Although reality reminds us when negative things happen, good thoughts keep us feeling positive. Is there really any science behind it? Is it true that our perception of the world, ourselves and life creates our reality?

How perception works with our daily lives

Our perceptions massively contribute to our outlook on life. They can have a positive or negative impact on how we look at situations and in turn how we react and deal with them.

As humans, we seek happiness and health, and we believe they are the foundations for a successful and settled life. There is some science behind that too. It’s true that happier people live longer. They are also more likely to be healthier and have more success in their lives. To those people, their perception becomes their reality because their positive outlook and thinking have contributed to their long, happy, healthy lives.

Perception is reality – in happiness

The reality of happiness is a bit different than how we perceive emotion. It can be argued that instead of searching for what or who can make us happy, it is possible to take more of a scientific approach.

If we can learn how to suppress negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, we increase our chances of happiness. For example, we only need to look at behavioral research to see how visualizing positivity can change a state of mind.

1st study: changing behaviour

In March 2016, researchers from Kings College, London, tested over 100 subjects diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Their findings were compiled into the Journal of Behaviour Research and Therapy.

Researchers asked one group of anxiety sufferers to use imagery to visualise and focus on a more positive outcome from three worries they’d had. Then verbal positive outcomes were observed next. The last group was asked to visualize any positive image as soon as they started to recognize any worry process.

The greatest increase in anxiety and an increase in happiness came from focusing on a positive image, even if it somehow related to a previous worry. So this research shows that the participants’ perception became their reality and visualizing positivity can lead to behavioral changes for the better.

Happiness and success can be connected, at least that’s what we’ve learned. Dr. Sonia Lyubomirsky, head researcher from UC Riverside, conducted a study that involved more than 270,000 people.

Happiness is contagious. When other people show signs of a positive attitude, it tends to spread. Then these people become likable and confident.

2d study: it’s not all about happiness

Happiness is difficult to quantify. Does money make you happy? Maybe it’s a success that does the trick? Does the measurement of how happy you are determine how much money you make? Does it determine success? All these questions relate to how perceptions can relate to more than just striving for happiness.

It’s been said that a person’s life expectancy can improve due to positive thinking. This is all caused by happiness. In a study carried out by the University of Kentucky, researchers examined autobiographies written in 1930 by nuns. All of them were between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, living together at the same convent. On a positivity scale, they were rated.

Sixty years later, the researchers contacted the surviving nuns and of those that were still alive, half had lived beyond average life expectancy.

The research concluded that the higher scores of positive thoughts from the longest living survivors were due to the perceptions they had about their lives, regardless of the circumstances. So, in this case, perceptions can be a reality.

3d study: more resilience to stress

There is further evidence to suggest that, actually, short-term stress strengthens the immune system. These happiness-based perceptions have opposite views, and these views make us healthier.

There’s a couple of studies to support this. The Penn Resilience Program is based on decades of research and has successfully helped a number of people become more resilient to stress and anxiety by increasing their mental fitness.

The idea behind the studies is to learn coping mechanisms and increase levels of positivity. It meant they were better equipped to better cope with stress or trauma or issues which may occur as part of daily life.

Researchers conducting a similar study report similar findings. A person’s overall health can be affected by stress levels. These researchers were led by Dr. Segerstrom at the University of Kentucky. They analyzed over 300 separate studies done in the previous 30 years within the psychological community of the effects of stress on humans.

They concluded that when people face a stressful situation, they get a burst of adrenaline that boosts their immune system and helps them to better deal with the immediate situation. Anxiety and depression can set it if, over time, people keep worrying about certain situations.

Basically speaking

So, if you can’t change your situation, change your thinking about it! Perception can be a reality, and that is part of what studies have been trying to proclaim to us. The best thing to do, with that being said, is to be just as positive as you can.

References:

  1. http://www.psychologytoday.com
  2. https://www.researchgate.net

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