The Power of a Positive Outlook

The Power of a Positive Outlook

Recently, I had a discussion with a friend who had injured his back. He shared with me that this had taken a toll on him both physically and emotionally. His injury was affecting his emotional state because he was not able to move in the way he was accustomed to, and therefore not able to exercise in ways he enjoyed. Can you relate? I can– recently, I injured my foot and have been on crutches for the past couple of weeks.  I asked my friend if he had considered seeking out professional help to assist him in dealing with the emotional side of his more prolonged injury. 

Though this might first sound unusual, there is a great deal of research that links the length and ease of recovery time to one’s emotional state. 

One study out of Harvard found that feelings of stress or depression surrounding an injury can increase the likelihood of developing physical symptoms, such as high blood pressure, which make recovery a more strenuous process. Another study shows that “maintaining a positive attitude and using mental skills are related to a shorter rehabilitation.”

This research illustrates that it is entirely possible to obtain positive outcomes by practicing a more positive outlook. This positive outlook is a function of an internal dialogue that happens– essentially talking oneself into what could be a better reality. A higher level of optimism about one’s circumstances could lead to better outcomes.  This mindset can apply to recovery from physical injury, work, or circumstances in our everyday lives.

How do you frame events in your life? When something bad happens, are you tempted to give into catastrophic thinking? Do you automatically assume the worse out of every situation? Often, framing can be the difference between a good day and a bad day. 

What do we do to help with framing things more positively relative to the future?  Here are some easy tips: 

  • Make positive self-talk your mode of operation.  When something seemingly bad happens in your life, be it an injury or not getting a promotion at work, don’t assume that the outcome must be negative. Instead, reflect on why these things could be positive. For example, maybe an injury would provide for a temporary slow down and a chance to refocus your life on the things that are really important.
  • Pay attention to your choice of words. Pick words that are active rather than passive. We all know the importance of words and the effect they can have on us emotionally. Our own words to ourselves are perhaps some of the most important. Say a coworker makes a rude comment under their breath about a presentation you have given. You could internalize this and let it skew how you see your work and your value, or you could just let it go and trust your own instinct. 
  • Re-evaluate your situation. Especially in times like these, it’s easy to feel downcast about our circumstances. It is vital, however, to take a moment and reflect on what is and could be good right now. 
  • Additionally, we can turn to trusted others to help us reevaluate our situations. Oftentimes, I have found it helpful to tap into a close friend to help me reframe a tough situation. Community is key in allowing us to evaluate our circumstances with clarity. 

What’s happening in your life today that is causing you to be in a negative emotional space? On one hand, this question may seem rhetorical– there is so much happening in the world that has the potential to make us feel down and out. On the other hand, I would really encourage you to rethink your view of your circumstances.  

Let’s make a list and take each issue on, one by one.  Create two columns: positive outlook, and negative outlook. Jot where you are and use the above easy tips to work through your emotions.  By simply reframing the situation, you will be able to harness the power of emotional wellness to engage the world around you in a more impactful and positive way. 

Yasser Youssef is the president of The Budd Group, one of the leading facility service companies in the country, a North Carolina-based company that provides facility support services in the Southeast. Throughout his career, Youssef has met leaders from all backgrounds, and believes leadership is for everyone. Over the past few years, he has developed an affinity for writing and contributing thought leadership, and is often asked to speak to businesses throughout the country about authentic leadership.

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