Are Negative Thoughts Ruining Your Life?

Being happy may improve both the quality and longevity of your life. Many of the chronic diseases we see in industrialized countries can be attributed to the stress that we encounter daily in our society.

By Nunzia Stark3 min read
Shutterstock/Alena Ozerova

Since happiness is something we all strive for, behavioral scientists have spent a lot of time studying what makes us happy (and what doesn't). Negative thoughts are ruining your life.

In our society, for various reasons, we seem to have forgotten how to be happy because we are too busy being angry at the world. Studies show that people who engage in positive thinking have better health. We all know that optimistic people seem to enjoy life more. They smile frequently because they know where and how to seek happiness.

Positive Emotions Are Good for Your Health

According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, a negative attitude can affect the way you think. In addition, if you already have a pre-existing health condition, the effects can be drastic. Research has shown that even a small amount of negativity can harm our health. It can weaken the immune system, and even make us more susceptible to a heart attack or stroke.

Research has shown that even a small amount of negativity can harm our health.

Speaking of adverse effects on health, you may want to rethink your personal relationship with the smartphone that is wired to your hands.

Sometimes, We Need To Filter out the World

While technology has improved our lives, communication on social media has placed a stranglehold on modern society. We spend hours scrolling, “liking,” and sharing pictures. Then we do it all over, again and again. The 24/7 availability of instant communication with almost anyone, and the unprecedented ability to access virtually every bit of human knowledge in no time is making us chronically irritable and exhausted. It's also affecting our attention spans. All these symptoms among Americans have become disturbingly common.

If you feel stressed out, maybe your cortisol level is high. As this excerpt from The New York Times states: "Elevated cortisol levels impair the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain critical for decision-making and rational thought. 'The prefrontal cortex is the brain’s Jiminy Cricket,' says Dr. Lustig. 'It keeps us from doing stupid things'."

Cutting out the negativity whenever possible is always a good idea for the body and mind. Studies show that people who engage in positive thinking experience better health. Oprah Winfrey herself advocates this method, and has said, “Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”

Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.

A Yale University researcher has claimed that “we spend at least 60% of our adult conversations talking about people who are not with us at the time.” What percentage of those conversations are positive? Listening to someone complain or gossip about someone can be tempting because it often makes us feel good. However, if we spend too much time with an eternal pessimist who complains about everyone and everything, we need to be hyper-vigilant, because we tend to emulate the people around us, and misery loves company. Just remember the old saying: “One bad apple spoils the barrel.”

In this fast-paced world, stress and negative emotions are impossible to avoid. At the end of a stressful day, we're all familiar with those feelings of hopelessness and frustration, not to mention the inner negative voice inside us that always makes us feel less confident about ourselves and the choices we made throughout the day. It certainly wreaks havoc in our daily lives. Arianna Huffington calls that voice the “obnoxious roommate.”

How Can We Lessen the Effects of These Negative Emotions on Our Bodies and Minds?

Getting rid of negative thoughts is not always an easy task, and it's tempting to hide them from others and silently struggle with them inside the brain. When they suddenly pop up out of nowhere in your mind, it may be a good idea to talk to someone you trust about managing your thoughts. Doing so will also help you put things in perspective.

Barack Obama said, “If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

Maintain your emotional distance. It's essential not to allow ourselves to become infected with toxic negativity. Boundaries are a good thing. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't interact with your negative friends, but there are some techniques that we can learn to make our lives easier.

Create Your Emotional Toolbox

To ensure a happier and healthier life, we need to keep our bodies and minds in good shape. "Train Your Brain With Exercise.” We must take care of our bodies and minds because they're our most precious assets. It's easy to get caught up in the continuous and vicious cycle of work, sleep, then more work. Let's put into motion, in our daily routines, what our doctors keep on reminding us: Exercise is good, not just for our physical health, but also for our mental well-being.

Exercise is good, not just for our physical health, but also for our mental well-being.

The Mayo Clinic Shares the Following 10 Tips To Tame Stress

  1. Get active

  2. Eat a healthy diet

  3. Avoid unhealthy habits

  4. Meditate

  5. Laugh more

  6. Connect with others

  7. Assert yourself

  8. Try yoga

  9. Get enough sleep

  10. Keep a journal

Peace and Happiness

Face it: We don't get anything by yelling and screaming at people. Limit your expectations when dealing with a difficult person who is seemingly out of control. Everyone has the power to make small changes.

Stay calm as the temperature rises. Try to resist the urge to fight in order to win the argument. When someone or something is challenging you and making you feel vulnerable, why not practice something that can be beneficial to your health? Remain calm.

On a biochemical level, it's believed that kindness increases the production of oxytocin, the love hormone. Many studies have shown that developing a good habit of kindness helps reduce stress, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

On a biochemical level, it is believed that kindness increases the production of oxytocin, the love hormone.

When confronted and under stress, we sometimes feel the need to lash out in self-defense. It can be totally worth it, but not necessary. To keep our minds calm and attain a sense of peace, practicing patience is essential. It will help develop empathy and compassion in our hearts.

Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief:

  • Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.

  • Breathe out through your nose.

  • Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.

  • As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your stomach should move more than the one that's on your chest.

  • Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.

Closing Thoughts

These proven techniques will help you manage a stressful situation and maintain a peaceful state of mind. You can use the same techniques with your boss or with that antagonistic family member. Remember that being positive is a choice. So, why not?