Happiness How to Think Positive By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management. Learn about our editorial process Updated on April 28, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief Print Marko Geber / Getty Images You have probably heard a thing or two about the benefits of positive thinking. Research suggests that positive thinkers have better stress coping skills, stronger immunity, and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. While it is not a health panacea, taking an optimistic view rather than ruminating on negative thoughts can benefit your overall mental well-being. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to learn how to think more positively. How to Be More Positive Benefits of Thinking Positively Being a positive thinker can have a number of important health benefits. In one study, researchers found that people who had a more optimistic outlook had a lower risk of dying of a number of serious illnesses including: Breast cancerColorectal cancerInfectionHeart diseaseLung cancerOvarian cancerRespiratory diseasesStroke Studies have also shown that optimists tend to be both physically and mentally healthier than their more pessimistic counterparts. For example, research has shown that thinking more positively is associated with improved immunity, increased resilience to stress, and lower rates of depression. How to Think More Positively So what can you do to become a more positive thinker? A few common strategies involve learning how to identify negative thoughts and replacing these thoughts with more positive ones. While it might take some time, eventually you may find that thinking positively starts to come more naturally. What Is Positive Thinking? Avoid Negative Self-Talk Self-talk involves the things you mentally tell yourself. Think of this as the inner voice inside your mind that analyzes how you perform and interact with the world around you. If your self-talk centers on negative thoughts, your self-esteem can suffer. So what can you do to combat these negative self-talk patterns? One way to break the pattern is to start noticing when you have these thoughts and then actively work to change them. When you start thinking critical thoughts about yourself, take a moment to pause and assess. Paying attention to your self-talk is a great place to start when trying to think more positively. If you notice that you tend to engage in negative self-talk, you can start looking for ways to change your thought patterns and reframe your interpretations of your own behaviors. Reduce Stress and Improve Your Life With Positive Self Talk Try Humor It can be tough to stay optimistic when there is little humor or lightheartedness in your life. Even when you are facing challenges, it is important to remain open to laughter and fun. Sometimes, simply recognizing the potential humor in a situation can lessen your stress and brighten your outlook. Seeking out sources of humor such as watching a funny sitcom or reading jokes online can help you think more positive thoughts. Cultivate Optimism Learning to think positively is like strengthening a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it will become. Researchers believe that your explanatory style, or how you explain events, is linked to whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Optimists tend to have a positive explanatory style. If you attribute good things that happen to your skill and effort, then you are probably an optimist. Pessimists, on the other hand, usually have a negative attributional style. If you credit these good events to outside forces, then you likely have a more pessimistic way of thinking. The same principles hold true for how you explain negative events. Optimists tend to view bad or unfortunate events as isolated incidents that are outside of their control while pessimists see such things as more common and often blame themselves. By taking a moment to analyze the event and ensure that you are giving yourself the credit you are due for the good things and not blaming yourself for things outside of your control, you can start to become more optimistic. 5 Steps to Being More of an Optimist Practice Gratitude Consider keeping a gratitude journal where you can regularly write about the things in life that you are grateful for. Research has found that writing down grateful thoughts can improve both your sense of optimism as well as your overall well-being. When you find yourself dwelling on more negative thoughts or feelings, spend a few minutes writing down a few things in life that bring you joy. This simple activity can help shift your focus to a more optimistic mindset. Keep Practicing There is no on-off switch for positive thinking. Even if you are a natural-born optimist, thinking positively when faced with challenging situations can be difficult. Like any goal, the key is to stick with it for the long term. Even if you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, you can look for ways to minimize negative self-talk and cultivate a more optimistic outlook. Finally, do not be afraid to enlist the help of friends and family. When you start engaging in negative thinking, call a friend or family member whom you can count on to offer positive encouragement and feedback. Remember that to think positively, you need to nurture yourself. Investing energy in things you enjoy and surrounding yourself with optimistic people are just two ways that you can encourage positive thinking in your life. When to Seek Help If you are finding it difficult to think positively and instead feel like negative thoughts or emotions are taking over your life, you should talk to your doctor or therapist. Negative emotions that are causing distress or interfering with your ability to function normally may be a sign of a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. A doctor or mental health professional can evaluate your symptoms and recommend treatments that can help. Psychotherapy and medications may be used to address symptoms and improve your ability to think more positively. A Word From Verywell Learning how to think positively is not a quick fix, and it is something that may take some time to master. Analyzing your own thinking habits and finding new ways to incorporate a more positive outlook into your life can be a great start toward adopting a more positive thinking approach. Positive Thinking Apps 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Boehm JK, Kubzansky LD. The heart's content: the association between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. Psychological Bulletin, 2012;138(4):655-91. doi:10.1037/a0027448 Kim ES, Hagan KA, Grodstein F, DeMeo DL, De Vivo I, Kubzansky LD. Optimism and cause-specific mortality: a prospective cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2017;185(1):21-29. doi:10.1093/aje/kww182 Segerstrom SC, Sephton SE. Optimistic expectancies and cell-mediated immunity: the role of positive affect. Psychol Sci. 2010;21(3):448-455. doi:10.1177/0956797610362061 Naseem Z, Khalid R. Positive thinking in coping with stress and health outcomes: literature review. Journal of Research and Reflections in Education, 2010;4(1):42-61. Santos V, Paes F, Pereira V, et al. The role of positive emotion and contributions of positive psychology in depression treatment: systematic review. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2013;9:221-237. Published 2013 Nov 28. doi:10.2174/1745017901309010221 Gillham JE, Shatté AJ, Reivich KJ, Seligman MEP. Optimism, pessimism, and explanatory style. In: Chang EC, ed. Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2001:53-75. doi:10.1037/10385-003 Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Gratitude and well being: the benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010;7(11):18-22. By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Happiness Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.