Resiliency and Positive Thinking
Resilience can be defined as our ability to navigate and recover from the challenges and hardships we experience in life. It is our capacity to deal with and overcome stressful and difficult experiences versus allowing stressful and difficult experiences to overcome us. There are numerous aspects that contribute to the development of a resilient mindset, with one of the most significant being positive thinking.
Research in the field of positive psychology has found that positive thoughts and emotions can strongly influence our level of happiness and lead to flourishing, both physically and psychologically (Kuo, 2017).
Essentially, positive thoughts feed positive perspectives which better equip us mentally to overcome challenges. When we think positively, we approach situations with more hope and feel more empowered, thus we tend to embrace challenges more openly and feel more empowered to take action.
3 Simple Ways to Cultivate Resilience Through Positive Thinking
While positive thinking in general certainly contributes to the building of a more resilient mindset, there are specific ways positive thinking can be used to foster resilience. The following list outlines specific methods of positive thinking and how they foster resilience.
Reframing is a process that involves altering the way we view a current situation/circumstance so that we see it differently. Positive reframing involves looking at situations and circumstances typically deemed negative or challenging and intentionally choosing to seek out the positives of those situations and circumstances. It’s about consciously and intentionally shifting perspectives to adopt a positive one (Kuo, 2017).
The challenge-hindrance stressor framework researched by Cavenaugh and colleagues in 2000 found that individuals who reframed problems and viewed them with curiosity were more likely to solve those problems and move forward, as opposed to being defeated by the issue (Pennock, 2014). This promoted resilience because the more positive perspective (the challenge perspective) that was intentionally fostered led people to see challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement. This meant people faced and rose in the face of challenges, becoming more resilient.
Research suggests that people who spend a few minutes per day focusing on gratitude begin to develop a brain pattern of automatically scanning for positives versus negatives after approximately three weeks. The practice of gratitude fosters resilience by changing our brains to automatically see challenges through a positive lens which then allows us to embrace hardships and grow from them (Pennock, 2014).
Embracing a hopeful and optimistic attitude is another way to utilize positive thinking as a means of fostering resilience according to the American Psychological Association. Optimism and hope are attitudes that allow us to envision possible good or best-case scenarios versus harping on negatives and worst-case scenarios.
Consciously choosing optimism and hope over time shapes our perspective so that we begin to naturally see challenges as something to be welcomed because they can lead to success and opportunities (Editor, n.d.). When there is the belief that good could come from what might be considered bad or a focus on the good that exists within the bad, one is already on par to be more resilient because they’ve put themselves at a mental advantage. From that mental state, one can embrace the challenge and pivot as needed to adapt to it.
The connection between positive thinking and resilience is clear. The more positively we think, the more resilient we become. Our goal then should be to find ways to implement and practice positive thinking in our daily lives. Reframing, practicing gratitude, and embracing hopefulness and optimism are just a few of many ways to implement positive thinking in our lives.
By implementing these practices, over time we can expect that the way we approach challenges and navigate through them will improve for the better. Thus, we bounce back from hardships quicker and easier and achieve better overall outcomes.
Editor. (n.d.). Optimism, resilience & positive thinking. Retrieved from https://www.positivityguides.net/optimism-resilience-positive-thinking/
Kuo, H. (2017, October 19). Four ways to build resilience using positive thinking — En masse. Retrieved from https://www.enmasse.com.au/blog/2017/10/19/four-ways-to-build-resilience-using-positive-thinking
Pennock, S. (2014, December 30). Resilience in positive psychology: Bouncing back & staying strong. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/resilience-in-positive-psychology/