The supposed benefits of positive thinking

Research shows that positive thinking can benefit our physical and mental health.

But promoting positivity might be overly simplistic and have possible negative consequences in certain circumstances.

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There’s a way to avoid the slippery slopes of over-optimism | Psyche Ideas

psyche.co

What you expect to happen in the future will steer your decisions. It will determine if you will pursue a goal or when you will give up.  Your expectations will also affect your emotions. You will feel good if your future looks like it will match your expectations, and you will feel bad if the future looks gloomy.

But our optimistic expectations about the future are often wrong and are often consistently wrong. 

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  • Optimistic expectations motivate us. If you don't think you have a chance to succeed, you are less likely to try. But this only applies where effort can translate into success, such as studying and expecting a good grade. However, if you hope your favourite sports team will win, it will not help them win.
  • Expecting a future experience to be positive could reduce worry. For example, a student who expects a good grade can feel confident and less stressed. But if you expect a positive outcome, you risk disappointment if you fail.

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Only expecting good things to happen is not enough. We also need to be willing to put in the effort to make it happen. The combination of optimism and action help drive motivation to achieve our goals and persist when facing challenges.

Having positive expectations is not the same as fantasising. Fantasising can make you overconfident, leading to performing worse and lowering your motivation. But believing that success is possible will help you succeed.

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