The Magic of Positive Thoughts
Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away… In the last 6 years I grew to love this wonderful holiday for the way it makes me feel. I don’t mean the holiday rush and the traveling anxieties but rather the way listing things that I am grateful for brings in a rush of enthusiasm and unbound energy. It is a day that officially encourages us to bring attention to things that are going well, to things that we love and appreciate. Thanksgiving is like a major self-counseling session that encourages us to shift out of a problem-solving negative-focused approach to life and focus on the positive.
Several weeks ago, during my weekly Wellness Coaching class, I got an explanation of why creating a sense of gratitude and highlighting the things that we love has such a powerful impact on the way we feel emotionally and the way we approach life. Apparently, it is so powerful that it can even determine how often we succeed in our life!
“Whatever we focus on grows!” If we focus on the positive, there will be more of it appearing in our life. Unfortunately, it is true with the negative thoughts, as well. That’s the way positive psychology explains this phenomenon. (boys, don’t get any ideas from it!:)) The field of Positive Psychology and modern neuroscientists have been able to prove that our attitude and perception have a strong impact on reality. Our brain will rewire the entire body to make it correspond to the current beliefs. So if you believe that you are overweight, it will be so; if you are certain that you are getting old quickly, you might. On the other hand, if you think that your body is strong and beautiful, your body will respond to that belief as well. For those with a critical mindset, here is the science:
In 1981 a Harvard study placed men in their 70’s and 80’s in the simulated 50’ies. The environment was recreated with magazines, radio, movies, games, and conversations. Everything was done to trick the brain into thinking that it were the 50’ies. In a week psychologists compared pre and post study memory, intelligence, hearing, vision and flexibility of participating seniors. The post study results impressed even the scientists! Those men seemed to have gotten younger.
This study provided evidence for a simple but invaluable fact: wherever you put the mind, the body will follow. It is not our physical state that limits us, it is our mindset about our own limits, our perceptions, that draws the line.
Create Your Own Reality!
Customary on thanksgiving, we say grace for the food on the table, for our family and for close friends. But since feeling and showing gratitude and cultivating a feeling of love is such a powerful tool why not use its power to create a better energy and acceptance for our own body? Who doesn’t want to fill better in their own skin, especially for the holidays?! If you already feel super confident and love your body the way it is, please share your secrets! We would love to hear!
Most of the time we talk about and focus on the things that we don’t like about our bodies: flabby stomach, wrinkles, not the right size on jeans, thin hair… the list goes on and on… Negative thoughts are limiting. We are programming ourselves with ‘I can’t’, and ‘I don’t’ messages into a negative body image and low self-esteem. Now, understanding the science and the effect that focusing on the negative will have on your reality, you might think twice before going on a body hate rant. Body image can change based on what you think and do every day. Listing positive things and things that you love about your body helps to reverse negative self-esteem into a positive one. Remember: we create our own reality! Our thoughts have the power to bring themselves to life.
Take The Weight Of Your Shoulders And Your Body Will Follow!
Whether you want to lose weight or not, having a high self-esteem and a healthy body-image, learning to love and respect your body, and becoming friends with it are a big part of Happiness equation. You can use science and your own brain to change your body by improving your self-esteem. Wouldn’t that be a nice present for the holidays?!
If you wonder how creating a positive body image would benefit you, here’s how:
• Your weight loss or energy goals will become more achievable. Many people can’t seem to lose weight even on a very strict diet and hard-core exercise regimen or if they do it comes right back. The reason is that your brain might still have an image of you being overweight and that image is very powerful. Your brain will make sure that your body lives up to the internal belief. To make weight loss easier and permanent, the body image has to be changed. Positive affirmations help to rewire the brain.
• Staying on track with your current exercise and eating regimen will become easier due to higher self-esteem. It is a self-feeding circle: you believe you can do it, it becomes easier to do.
• You will have a better relationship with your self and with others around you. Feeling comfortable in your own skin will make you more authentic and your communication more open.
Besides, increasing your self-esteem and improving body image, positive affirmations, will increase your mindfulness. Consciously looking for things that are going well, for things that you love and feel good about requires a higher state of awareness throughout the day. Once you pay more attention, more miracles will become visible. Appreciation for our bodily functions that we take for granted like seeing, hearing, walking will grow as well. Along with them the joy of using those functions will increase.
Turning Knowledge Into Wisdom: Action Steps
As most powerful and genius things, creating a better life and cultivating a loving relationship with yourself, is pretty simple. You don’t have to “believe” or “buy into” anything I say. There is nothing to be convinced of but your ability to control what happens in your life. Experiencing something is what brings in true knowledge. Positive affirmations work for me but the only way to find out if they work or you is to try and see what happens!
Here an easy exercise to get you started:
For 10 days before Thanksgiving write down at least 5 positive affirmations about yourself and at least 3 specifically about your body. More is better but 5 is a good beginning. Do it on your phone, in the comment section to this post, on facebook, in a notepad, wherever you want! However, science proves that we are more likely to stick to the task if you are accountable to someone besides ourselves. Support of another person can more than double your chances of success with a goal! Here, on the blog, I will do my best to encourage you and to support you. If you decide to do it on your own, ask your loved one for support. Share the challenge with your gf, bf, or anyone who might need a self-esteem boost and who can become your positive affirmations buddy.
It Is Easier Than You Think!
Start by writing down specific moments when you’ve done something good for yourself and felt good about your body. Big or small – everything counts! If you can’t seem to come up with anything you love about your life or your body, here are some samples and inspirations. It will open up your mind to things that you might have not noticed before.
Here is what I love about myself, about today, and about what I do for myself:
– I love that I took time in the morning to think of a grounding and nourishing breakfast and prepared it. (amaranth oatmeal with raisins and a piece of goat cheese. Yum!)
– I love that I remembered to take my vitamins and added aloe vera juice into my water.
– I love that my body provides me with feedback about food and exercise. I can use that feedback to learn and to help myself function at the top level of energy and clarity
– I love my strong legs that allow me to walk for hours, to run, and to do lunges. And I love lunges!
– I love my brain that always keeps thinking, comes up with recipes, and articles. It keeps me entertained and never lets me to get bored.
Start small and build up to what feels natural! Remember: Doing this simple exercise will help you to reconnect with you body, to be proud of what it can do and to feel grateful for everything that it allows you to do. Only humans have the power to find positive even in the challenging situations. Only we can control how we feel and what we focus our thoughts on. It is your choice 100%. The thoughts you have now are creating your tomorrow, and knowing that means you hold the tools to make all kinds of marvelous things happen.
What do you love about yourself and about today? Let’s start the magic!
- Body Image Books can Help. Here are our Favorites. (psychologytoday.com)