While it’s hard to muster up positivity these days, positive thinking does have power over our long-term emotions and outlook on life. According to a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found that how a person’s brain evaluates fleeting, negative stimuli can influence their long-term, psychological well-being. The study found that the longer you hold on to negative experiences, the unhappier you become. In short, how well you think you’re doing in life depends on whether you’re the type of person who lets a dropped cup of coffee ruin your day, or someone who won’t give it another thought after cleaning the mess up.
Indeed, it’s necessary to cultivate positive thinking in our daily life. The way we react to our life situation, and how we take action for the things we’re responsible for are often tied to positivity — which can help us grow into better people. So, here are three must-read self-improvement books that can help you develop positive thinking habits:
The Happiness Advantage
Common wisdom from culture and society teaches us that happiness is achievable through hard work, especially when we attain professional and personal accomplishments. We think once we achieve our desired weight, receive a promotion, or marry an attractive person, we’re all set to be happy. Shawn Achor’s book called The Happiness Advantage begs to disagree. Achor digs into positive psychology research and tells us that we have things backward: happiness is the secret ingredient to success.
According to Achor, our brains are bombarded with too much information, so we can’t make much sense of everything. To keep us safe, the brain scans our environment for danger and threats first — leading us to dwell on the negative side of things, and leaving no room for gratitude or positivity. The Happiness Advantage teaches us how to retrain our brains to focus on happiness first, rather than waiting for the “right” conditions to come by. When we’re happy, open-minded, and positive, we become more creative, productive, and energetic to take life on and don’t worry about things we cannot control.
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
Often, people think in a defeatist, negative way, and we feel helpless whenever we have to confront a problem. In his book called Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, author Gary John Bishop says that this negative self-talk is what holds people back from achieving wealth, success, happiness, and purpose. Because we set our own obstacles with negative thinking, we have to figure out ways to overpower these thoughts and achieve real change from within.
While there are no instant fixes to getting out of your own head, Bishop’s book challenges the way we may be thinking about ourselves and other people. Unfu*k Yourself will show how the language we use to describe our circumstances can dramatically affect the way we confront daily situations, and encourage us towards a positive, confident mindset.
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
Psychologist Martin Seligman believes that with a bit of training, we can choose what we think about and how we think about it. In Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Seligman shares insights from his research on learned helplessness. In a series of experiments, dogs can be conditioned to remain passive — even if they had an opportunity to escape their situation.
A third of people, however, could not be made to feel helpless; Seligman found that the difference was whether they were optimistic or not. Over the course of Learned Optimism, Seligman walks you through how to unlearn self-defeating thoughts and embrace the habit of optimism.
As we discussed in our post called Does Going to a Yoga Class Make You a Yogi?, uncomfortable experiences have a lot to teach us about ourselves. Even in bad things, there is constantly something for us to win. The key is to look on the bright side, and claim happiness for ourselves.