Positive Thinking: More Than A Mantra
For many people, mentioning of the power of positive thinking causes them to roll their eyes. The term has been overused to the extent that it has lost much of its impact. Recent research, however, reveals that there is a lot more to positive thinking than putting on a veneer of happiness.
In this article, we delve into the science of positive thinking to discover how your attitude impacts your success both in and out of the ring.
The Destructive Power of Negative Thinking
Humans have thousands of thoughts every day. Most of those thoughts are repetitive thoughts from the day before. And, let’s be honest, probably the day before that as well.
For most people, the vast majority of those thoughts are negative. Often, those negative thoughts manifest themselves as statements of failure such as:
“I will always be fat.”
“I can’t do that.”
“I’m not worthy of a promotion.”
Negative thoughts rob our attention. Imagine walking down the street and coming across a wild, loose doberman, complete with snarling fangs and a slobbering tongue. It doesn’t matter what you were thinking about before; now your total focus is on getting away from this threat to your safety.
That is an extreme example of what negative thinking does. It infiltrates all your other thoughts. We tend to obsess over the negative, convincing ourselves that we will never be able to change.
The Constructive Power of Positive Thinking
We’ve known about the power of positive thinking ever since Norman Vincent Peale wrote the book of that name in 1952. But it wasn’t until 2011, when Barbara Fredrickson– a psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina– investigated the relationship between positive thinking and actions that it’s power to transform our lives was quantified.
Fredrickson’s approach included five test groups who were each shown video clips that created different emotions: joy, contentment, neutral, fear and anger. The participants were then asked to imagine the same situation and write out how they would deal with that situation.
The people who were shown the positive videos wrote down significantly more ideas than any of the other groups. Fredrickson’s conclusion was that positive thinking opens up the mind to greater possibility, in contrast to negative thinking which restricts the mind.
How Positive Thinking Develops Skills
Dr. Fredrickson has built upon her research findings by developing what she calls the ‘broaden and build’ theory. The theory contends that positive emotions act as a motivating force that sparks the urge to be creative and to engage in activities that are to our benefit. As a result, positive emotions are the spark that lead to future skill development.
Rather than providing us with merely a momentary soft and fluffy feel-good emotion, positive thinking can lead to the development of skills and life habits that will last a lifetime.
3 Ways to Think More Positively
- Slam On the Brakes: When you identify yourself slipping into negative territory – condemning yourself, using negative self-talk, wanting to give up – do something about it immediately. Pull yourself up. Tell yourself to stop being stupid and get your head back in the game, because you are better than that!
You may choose to try reframing your ideas. First, identify the negative thought and why it exists. Then, think of a positive aspect of the negative experience. Finally, reframe the negative thought in your mind using the positive aspect to create a positive thought. On a particularly exhausting day, you may be thinking “I didn’t do my best work in the ring today.” By reframing the thought, it may become “I pushed myself to get to the gym despite how tired I felt. Something is better than nothing.”
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the process of becoming attuned to the present. When you are in a state of mindfulness, you are in the zone, able to control and train your brain. It involves meditation and relaxation techniques that allow a person to temporarily disconnect from the everyday demands of their life.
5 Tips to Developing Mindfulness
- Practice mindfulness at the same time every day
- Select an environment that is quiet, free of artificial light and distraction free
- Sit comfortably in an erect position
- Develop awareness of your breathing
- If you find that your mind begins to wander, gently refocus on your target object. Don’t get annoyed with yourself – it’s part of the training process!
- Plan Recreation Time: Taking the steps to include recreation time into your schedule is a vital part of developing positive thinking. This is your time to explore, relax and play. Yes, it’s ok for adults to do that! Explore, get into the great outdoors, revel in the love and companionship of your family – and smile!
Positive Thinking in the Ring
Your success in the boxing ring greatly depends upon your skill and fitness level. What goes on in your head, however, is arguably more important than either of those factors. When you step into that ring, you need to leave all of your doubts behind. You must have an absolute conviction that you belong there, that you are super prepared – and that you will conquer.
You need to shut down the negative self talk while you are in the ring. Overpower them with positivity. Tell yourself that you are strong and confident. Then focus your attention on the specifics of your performance in the ring:
How can I improve my power?
How can I counter this guy’s extra reach?
How do I clinch on the inside?
By combining positive thinking, skill and ability you will Become Unstoppable, both in and out of the ring.
Allow your positivity to spur you to healthier future by booking a session with one of our friendly Gloveworx coaches.