What Is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking is a phrase we’re all familiar with, but what does it actually mean, and why is it important? Find out at HealthyPlace.

What is positive thinking? By now, we’ve heard the term so many times it has begun to lose its meaning. So many of us think we are pessimistic by nature without accepting that positive thinking is a choice; that the ways in which we feed our brains shape our whole reality. Positivity is not about seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses or making everything in your life perfect. It’s about adopting an optimistic mindset through acceptance and change so you can see both the “good” and “bad” with a balanced mindset ("What Is Positivity? The Definition May Surprise You").  

What Positive Thinking Is and What It Is Not

“When I’m worried and cannot sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep.”
~ Bing Crosby

So, what exactly is positive thinking? First, let’s talk about what positive thinking is not. Positive thinking is not an escape or denial of reality. On the contrary, positive thinking is about acceptance. When you think positively, you accept what you cannot change and act where you can.

Positive thinking does not mean you think the world is wonderful. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to see the good in everyone or everything. It’s easy to think positively when your life is going well, when people act the way you want them to, when you feel loved, happy, wealthy and calm. The challenge lies in adjusting your focus so that you can embrace positive thinking as a skill, even when life is challenging ("What is a Positive Attitude?").

Positive thinking means making a choice each and every day to appreciate life and all the variety that comes with it, even when it’s easier to be negative.

Why Do We Need Positive Thinking?

The power of positive thinking has been proven by scientists. According to doctors, positive thinking skills lead to lower rates of depression, less stress and anxiety, greater resistance to common illnesses and a healthier cardiovascular system. Being calm and positive has a myriad of health and wellness benefits, so why is it so hard to feel optimistic about our lives?

Positive thinking, in itself, is quite a broad term. Being positive means different things to different people of course, but positive people tend to have certain attributes in common.

In the international bestseller, The Rules of Life, Richard Templar lists what he deems to be guiding principles to happiness. The book became a global phenomenon after it was published in 2006, presumably because so many people were on that illusive quest to find happiness. The book is essentially a guide to becoming a more positive and fulfilled person, and each of Templar’s “rules” can be linked back to positive thinking in some way. Here are some examples:

Rule 7: Be flexible in your thinking: “Try to see life not as the enemy, but as a friendly sparring partner.”

Rule 10: Only dead fish swim with the stream: “And that’s what life is, what it is meant to be: a series of struggles and lulls.”

Rule 30: Have a sense of humor: “See something funny in whatever life throws at us along the way.”

Rule 48: Draw the lines around yourself: “Setting personal boundaries means you don’t have to be scared of other people anymore.”

The Final Word on Positive Thinking

Remember that positive thinking requires a little commitment each day. As Albert Einstein said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

In other words, if you want a different perspective on life, you have to be willing to try different approaches. Challenge your negative thinking: does it serve you? Does it make you happier, more productive or successful? Chances are, it is holding you back.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2021, December 15). What Is Positive Thinking?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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