I borrowed the following excerpt from the Mayo Clinic:
Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
It's unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It's also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don't smoke or drink alcohol in excess.
I'm certainly no more an expert at maintaining a positive attitude than the next person. I just wanted to mention an experience we had with my son...he's 20 now, serving a mission for our church in New York City. A couple of years ago he was bodysurfing with some friends in California and he had an accident that hurt his neck (like a couple of hours before he was to fly home). They put his neck in a brace and said he would be fine, but the scans they did showed up what turned out to be a cancerous tumor in his head. Wow, thank goodness for that accident! He had surgery followed by chemotherapy and pretty much missed his senior year of high school. He didn't complain, he didn't mope, he just buckled down and did what he felt like he needed to do. He was pronounced cancer-free and now on his mission he posted on his blog:
I've often heard an analogy comparing life to a rollercoaster. Everybody has low points, but also high points; there are times when its moving a little slower, and times when it seems to speed by; times when we feel a little sick and times when we feel exhilarated; times where life forces us into our seat and times where we throw our hands up with a light and free feeling.
Although its comforting to hear that no matter how dark our situation appears now that its going to get better, do we really have to wait for things to pick up again to be happy? Are we going to let our happiness and our personal quality of life be determined by factors that we can't control?
Though I've heard all these analogies comparing life and a rollercoaster, the one I don't hear very much that I like the best is life is fun! Would you believe me if I said we can be happy and grateful even in the most awful trial we've ever been through? Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: "We shouldn't wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect... No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it."
This is one of the principles that I have strived to live by these last few years of my life. A few years ago I realized that I was simply not happy, and I didn't know why. It was then that I realized that being happy is a choice, not a consequence! Having a good day is a conscious decision to make today a great day. If you don't believe me, try it. For one whole day try to recognize every single good thing that happens and ignore the bad, and note every single thing you're grateful for (bed when you wake up in the morning, computer to read random blogs, food to eat, clothes to wear, eyes to read this, etc.) Make your prayers only prayers of gratitude, and try to find opportunities to help others. I promise if you'll do this for one day, it will be the best day you've had in a long time. Nothing will have changed; only your attitude.
Pretty amazing to have learned that by the age of 20, but he did learn it the hard way.
“If you say you can or you can't you are right either way”
Now go and make it a great day!